Rally held for education funding as budget stalemate continues in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. --  On Tuesday, women’s issues took center stage in Springfield as a crowd of demonstrators packed the state Capitol backing abortion-related legislation and other progressive bills.  Thursday, it was all about support for higher education funding.

Temporary funding for social services and higher education expired January 1 and put a strain on Illinois colleges and universities.

Today a rally was held on the steps of the capitol. Faculty and students joined by Democratic candidates for governor Daniel Biss and J.B. Pritzker.

Democrats launched another blistering attack on Governor Rauner.

“We need to save higher education in the state of Illinois and we need to do that by getting rid of Bruce Rauner,” said Rep. Chris Welch.

“Professors laid off, student aid cutoff, larger class sizes, furlough days, credit downgrades,” said Pritzker. “Gov Rauner is holding our state hostage to his Koch brothers agenda, his right wing agenda.”

The Rauner administration responded to the rally with a statement from Secretary of Education Beth Purvis.

The Governor understands and is gravely concerned about the severe financial challenges facing our students, colleges and universities and that is why he is working every day to find consensus on a budget that is truly balanced

The House recently approved a stopgap spending bill that would give $800 million to social services. The Senate is expected to take up the measure, but Rauner has signaled he will not back another temporary spending measure.

Today, House Speaker Madigan urged the governor to sign off on a stopgap. The speaker, in a statement, said he met with Rauner to discuss the matter.

I requested a meeting with Governor Rauner to ensure he understood my desire to pass a full-year budget and discuss the urgent need for a resolution to the state budget impasse….Schools, human service providers, rating agencies and thousands of others have asked us to do one thing – pass a budget.  I ask the governor to turn his focus to the budget.

A spokeswoman for the governor said that Speaker Madigan hinted he’s willing to do what Rauner calls “a truly balanced budget” with reforms.

On Day 667 without a budget and both sides are using the same talking points.