* Gov. Pat Quinn is a well-known champion of veterans rights and benefits. Today, for instance, he’s announcing a new “Veterans’ Cash Stars & Stripes” lottery ticket.
But the Pantagraph just noticed something about the state’s veterans scholarship program. It’s no longer being funded…
In trying to shift as much money as possible to its biggest scholarship program, the state this year stopped reimbursing universities for giving veterans free tuition.
This summer, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission facing a major cut in funding, the commission decided to shift almost all of its scholarship money to the need-based Monetary Award Program. But that meant programs like the Illinois Veterans Grant were shorted.
Veterans in Illinois still get free tuition at state schools. But the state won’t be reimbursing the universities for providing veterans a free education like they have in the past.
Meanwhile, the governor wants to borrow more money…
Gov. Pat Quinn wants to borrow another $900 million to keep state government afloat through the lean winter months.
With the state already months behind in paying its bills, Quinn said the traditional slowdown in tax collections between November and February could cause the nettlesome backlog to grow even larger.
“It’s a cash-management device,” Quinn told reporters following a meeting in the Capitol with legislative leaders.
Actually, it’s more than just a cash-management device…
Quinn said the borrowing could be used for MAP [scholarship] funding, but he’s not concerned scholarships will be shorted.
“I’m very confident we’ll have the money for the scholarships,” Quinn said.
Radogno said it was clear in the meeting that the short-term borrowing will cover the extra MAP grant costs.
“We have committed to it, and it has to be funded,” Radogno said.
The Tribune explains how it would work…
Lawmakers might put the borrowed money into a special pot that would be used to pay state health-care costs, generating potentially another $400 million in matching federal funds. That also would free up money elsewhere to pay for the scholarships in Illinois’ Monetary Award Program.
The situation is increasingly dire…
(T)he state already has borrowed $2.25 billion to shore up its budget and has pushed off payments on another $3.7 billion in backlogged bills
Quinn also wants legislative approval to borrow a billion dollars from special state funds.
Will Hynes sign off? We’ll know soon enough…
The state comptroller and treasurer must approve a deal. A spokeswoman said Comptroller Dan Hynes had not heard about the plan. Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said through a spokesman that funding higher education and paying backlogged bills will likely outweigh concern about continued borrowing.
Quinn said he expected no opposition to the December loan, including from Hynes, his opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in February.
* Back to borrowing