Rally for state funding at Chicago State University

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CHICAGO -- One day after Chicago State University sent layoff notices to all 900 of its employees and shortened the school year, students and political leaders held a rally on the university's campus Saturday, vowing to fight for state funding.

The situation is growing dire at the South Side campus, where money is running out because of the budget standoff in Springfield.

University officials are adamant that the school will not close.

However, as each day passes, the money needed to run this university is running out and the calls for the gove

rnor and the general assembly to find a solution are growing more urgent.

“It’s timeout for politics.  It’s time to get the work of the people done,” said State Rep. Elgie Simms, 34th district.

State Rep. Monique Davis is a 1967 graduate of Chicago State. She – and the legislative black caucus -- had harsh criticism for Governor Bruce Rauner.

“We will never allow Governor Rauner or others to take this great university," said Davis.

The university’s financial problems stem from the eight-month budget stalemate in Springfield.

The state’s public colleges and universities haven't received state money since July 1, when Governor Rauner vetoed an out-of-balance state budget. 

The governor also vetoed a bill that would have funded map grants -- the “Monetary Award Program” that provides tuition assistance to college students.

“I am furious, furious that Speaker Madigan has held our school systems hostage to this budget crisis,” Governor Bruce Rauner said last month.

He said the general assembly had to find the money before it could be spent. 

“I’m with anybody who wants to fund MAP grants.  I’m with you I want to fund it.  And speaker, if you want to pay for it right now, I support you. Vote to raise taxes. He doesn’t want to raise taxes,” said Rauner.

But the anger and the anxiety is building at Chicago State.

About one-third of the CSU budget comes from state funding, and the school doesn’t really have reserves to dip into.

It has already cancelled its spring break and will now end the semester in April rather than May as a way to save money.

Also, while the rally was held at CSU, campaigners were demanding funding for all Illinois public universities and MAP grant funding for all MAP students.