Letter: Higher Ed Funding A Good Start

To the editor,

Last week was the first meeting among State leaders in months. Almost immediately after that meeting adjourned, Speaker Madigan paid a rare visit to the House Floor to give a 10 minute pre-prepared speech railing against the Governor before setting up what was yet another sham vote. It has become glaringly obvious that the battle of the wills between the State’s leaders won’t be resolved any time soon. Instead it is necessary for the rank and file legislators to step up and forge our own compromises.

That was what we attempted to do this past week. Legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle worked on a deal to get much needed and fully funded money to higher education institutions. It was modeled off of State Republican Representative Fortner’s recent proposals and efforts led by Democrat Representative Mayfield. The deal would provide stopgap funding for the state’s universities and MAP program and supply a legitimate funding source using the $600 million in the Education Assistance Fund.

The bipartisan deal was reached and it had the complete support of the Governor. At the last minute, Speaker Madigan almost derailed the entire agreement by introducing to the floor completely different and unfunded amendments. Uproar was heard on both sides of the aisle and rank and file members were able to apply enough pressure to secure the eventual passage of the stopgap measure as originally negotiated. As a result we achieved one of the most successful and vital compromise efforts since the budget impasse began.

There is no debate that a lot of difficult work remains to be done. This bipartisan, compromise effort is a good start and should be the template moving forward to find solutions for our deteriorating human services network and a full budget. Common ground can be found, we just need to look for it first and not let state leaders get in their own way.

Margo McDermed
State Representative, 37th district