Yesterday, the Illinois House of Representatives provided essential long-term assurance to community colleges in the state by passing HB 4675, which would ensure that all future federal dollars distributed to the State of Illinois for Adult Education and Career and Technical Education are timely appropriated to community colleges, even in lieu of a state budget. Currently, these funds are coded within the Comptroller’s Office as “special funds” rather than “federal funds,” which had previously compromised their ability to be distributed in lieu of a higher education budget. Other similar technicalities within the fund distribution process were addressed by previous bills, but did not include the funds outlined specifically by HB 4675.
“While achieving a full and comprehensive state budget remains my highest priority as a legislator, I am very much committed to doing what I am able in the meantime to alleviate the burden of this current impasse, such as sponsoring and promoting legislation like HB 4675 so that institutions and organizations can continue to acquire as many of the resources they are entitled to as possible. I am especially proud to have had this opportunity to assist our community colleges in this way, as I have always been a tireless advocate for higher education in Illinois. There should be no reason for the state to delay the delivery of these federal dollars to their rightful owners, even in the midst of our own financial dysfunction,” said Rep. Mike Unes (R-East Peoria).
Community colleges in Illinois have been especially impacted by the now ten-month absence of a state budget. In Representative Unes’ District, these colleges include Illinois Central College (East Peoria) and Spoon River College (Canton).
“Having these federal funds not be held up by other budget discussions allows our community college to plan for future offerings of Adult Education and Literacy Programming. In addition, we are better able to budget for expansion and enhancement of our Career and Technical Education programs. Each of these programs has a direct impact on our regional economy and enhances Spoon River College’s ability to have an educated workforce available for our region’s employers. Not having a hold on these funds allows us to put those federal dollars to work immediately,” said Curt Oldfield, President of Spoon River College.
Currently, 45% of Spoon River College’s budget for its Adult Education programs is comprised of federal dollars, and amounts to about $65,000 annually. They also receive approximately $79,965 in federal Perkins funds, which support their Career and Technical Education programs.
According to Illinois Central College (ICC) Interim President Bruce Budde, ICC receives roughly $400,000 annually in federal subsidies for its own programs of this kind.