Proposed bill would send millions in aid to state universities

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Chicago State University announced Tuesday that it's cutting the semester short, blaming the State of Illinois' failure to approve a government budget.

And it’s not the only state university facing financial issues. 

Facing the same budget crunch is a state school on the North Side with about twice as many students as Chicago State. Employees at the University of Northeastern Illinois told FOX 32 they've been warned to prepare for furloughs and layoffs. The campus is currently a very nervous place.

“If this budget doesn't get settled, then I am totally -- I totally don't know what I'm going to do,” said NEIU senior Melanie Davis.

Davis told FOX 32 she needs to complete only one more semester to graduate from the University of Northeastern Illinois and already has a job lined up.

Many of the nearly 10,000 students told FOX 32 they're worried sick.

“It makes me feel, I don't know, almost disenfranchised by the level of irresponsibility of the politicians in Illinois,” said NEIU senior Qyjon Clark.

Clark said he already works at the Illinois Department of Corrections and hopes a degree in social justice will help him make more money as a state parole agent. Along with others at Northeastern, he feels like a hostage to Springfield's feuding factions.

As on so many other issues, instead of agreeing on a funding plan for these colleges, the two sides in Springfield stage partisan stunts.

Democrats recently offered a plan Governor Rauner rejected. Now, his allies are countering with a plan of their own. It's sponsored by State Rep. Ken Dunkin, a South Side Democrat who broke with party leaders to negotiate with Rauner on his own. A spokeswoman for the governor said he would sign the measure if it gets to his desk. It would raid state funds dedicated to other purposes to send $160 million to 4 state universities: Northeastern Illinois, Chicago State, Western Illinois in Downstate Macomb and Eastern Illinois in Downstate Charleston; $40 million would go to community colleges.

“All I'm thinking about is, "Am I even going to be able to go to class this summer? Am I going to be able to go to class in the fall? Am I even going to graduate? So, all those stresses are bearing down on the students,” said student government president Nick Martinez.

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