Sunday, February 21, 2016


Illinois is being managed by a Republican governor (Rauner) so it comes as no surprise that he would rather cut public education than increase taxes for the rich.

In a memo to lawmakers from Richard Goldberg, Rauner's deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, the administration questioned spending at universities, saying tuition continues to rise but there's no way to determine how "fiscally responsible" schools have been.

"As you know, appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars in General Revenue funds for MAP or general higher education without finding offsets — whether in the form of spending reductions or cost-saving reforms — could trigger a cash flow crisis in Illinois," Goldberg wrote.

The budget crisis also is having an impact on high school seniors as they decide where to enroll this fall. School officials have been walking a fine line between declaring the stalemate a crisis to pressure lawmakers and the governor to take action, and running the risk of scaring off potential students.

"Our admissions team has been increasing its recruiting efforts into even more schools in Illinois, yet interest in Illinois public higher education continues to wane," said Western Illinois spokeswoman Darcie Shinberger.

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz, who leads the state universities' presidents and chancellors group, said he hopes lawmakers understand "the urgency of the situation as we move into the spring semester."

"No institution can handle this complete disinvestment in higher education. We all need a (budget) figure," Dietz said. "The idea that the state of Illinois has decided ... not to fund anything, to me is highly unusual if not unconscionable."

"Unconscionable"? Yes! and Bernie Sanders has a way to fix it; 

Bernie Sanders believes that all students deserve the opportunity to receive an affordable, quality education from the earliest stages of schooling to high-level degrees. He has sponsored bills to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, as well as to drastically reduce interest rates on student loan debt.

How to pay for this?

There are various measures that have been proposed to cover these changes. In the College for All Act, which Bernie sponsored, a “Robin Hood” tax on Wall Street would be implemented– a 0.5 percent speculation fee on investment houses, hedge funds, and other stock trades, as well as a 0.1 percent fee on bonds and a 0.005 percent fee charged on derivatives. These very small taxes on the financial sector would completely cover the cost of providing free higher education to all students who are willing and able to attend college or university.

Moreover, the cost of not providing higher education must also be factored into consideration. A more educated workforce is likely to lead to higher incomes and a higher GDP for the nation, which will lead to increased prosperity, wealth, and consumer spending in its own right. In addition, families and individuals will spend their income freely instead of saving it for college tuition or using it to pay back student loans. This rise in consumer spending will also likely have a positive effect on the nation’s GDP.