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Representatives Kay, Meier want House Dems back in session to discuss Higher Ed funding


From Illinois Business Journal news services

EDWARDSVILLE — Two Republican members of the Illinois House said today they are more than willing to compromise on Higher Education funding if they can only get their Democratic colleagues back in session.

Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon and Charlie Meier of Okawville reinforced their willingness to negotiate, citing the numerous proposals House Democrats refused to debate prior to breaking for the entire month of March.

“There are four proposals to fund higher education and MAP grants. Unfortunately the Speaker has not allowed the bills to be voted on in the legislature,” Kay said. “This isn’t the time to dig our feet in politically, it’s time for us to come together and reach a compromise on a realistic plan that can fund SIUE, our community colleges, and MAP grants for college students.”

Kay and Meier listed multiple bills that have been presented including House Bill 4539, which they said sought to reasonably fund MAP grants, community colleges and four-year universities such as SIUE. However, unlike the Democrat proposal on MAP funding, SB2043, or the newly proposed $3.7 billion spending plan, HB648, Republicans are calling for a funding stream tied to any proposal that is approved by the legislature.

The legislators went on to decry the fact the Democrat-controlled House adjourned until the month of April despite a legitimate motion for Republicans to stay in session at the close of business.

“We made a sincere effort to stay and work until we reach a compromise, however the majority of our Democrat colleagues instead chose to take a four-week break, delaying a compromise to fund higher education. The legislature needs to be in session every day until we reach an agreement,” Meier said.

At the conclusion of House session last Thursday, Republicans made a motion to bring the legislature back the following day. The motion, despite being completely in line with the rules, was ruled out of order with Democrat leadership “scurrying quickly from the chamber” to prevent debate on the issue, they said.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who determines the session schedule, put in place a four-week gap in the month of March for what many assume is political reasons. The House is not set to be back in session until April 4.

 “The majority in the House chose to skip town instead of trying to work with us, which means we will be lucky if anything gets done until April 4 at the earliest. SIUE, Lewis & Clark, SWIC, and Kaskaskia College should not have to wait any longer to receive state funding. Rep. Meier and myself are ready to work every day until we reach a compromise with House Democrats to fund higher education,” Kay said.

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