Gov. JB Pritzker toured Heartland Community College in Normal on Tuesday to push his plan to increase funding for higher education.
The governor’s budget plan would increase that funding 10%, and also hike funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants by $100 million.
Pritzker pledges more money for education and child care in his budget address
“We are making smart investments now so that Illinois residents can reap the economic rewards they deserve,” Pritzker said at a news conference where he stood with local government and college officials and students.
The proposed MAP grant increase to $701 million would mark a 75% increase from Pritzker’s first state budget in 2019.
Pritzker said every student who applied for a MAP grant this year received one, adding state and federal grants can ensure virtually all community college students at or below the median income will have their tuition and fees fully covered.
He dismissed claims from Republicans that his budget plan will lead to a tax increase.
“I know that when you have nothing else to say, the Republicans just want to complain and project something into the future that they’d like people to believe, but isn’t true,” Pritzker said.
His administration projected less revenue this year, he said, but noted revenue has exceeded projections in previous years. He said the state used that money to reduce its bill backlog and pay down debt to get lower interest rates.
Heartland Community College President Keith Cornille said Pritzker’s proposed budget would enable the school to grow existing programs without a need to raise taxes or tuition. It could provide up to $250,000 in additional revenue for the college.
“Heartland is dedicated to taking a proactive role in the creation and enhancement of an equitable, diverse and inclusive community,” said Cornille, pointing out that 70% of Heartland students rely on financial aid and one-quarter of students rely on grants from the state.