Northbrook businessman worries lack of education money will dry up talent pool

  • Northbrook resident and Primera President Pedro Cevallos-Candau talks to reporters about his hope for Illinois to resume funding higher education.

      Northbrook resident and Primera President Pedro Cevallos-Candau talks to reporters about his hope for Illinois to resume funding higher education. Mary Hansen | Staff Photographer

 
By Mary Hansen
mhansen@dailyherald.com
Updated 1/20/2016 5:58 PM

Northbrook resident and business owner Pedro Cevallos-Candau joined a chorus of advocates in Springfield Wednesday urging the legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner to provide state money for higher education, particularly scholarships for low-income Illinois students.

Cevallos-Candau runs Chicago-based engineering firm Primera and employs 250 people, about 80 percent of whom went to Illinois schools, he said. He recruits engineers and technicians from the University of Illinois and Illinois Institute of Technology and told reporters at a news conference that's why he's concerned.

 

"If we don't provide the means for these students to continue to fill the pipeline, the talent pool, we will be in serious trouble," Cevallos-Candau said.

The budget standoff has meant state colleges and universities haven't gotten any state money since July 1. That includes Monetary Assistance Program scholarships, which many institutions have floated for students as the state remains in a spending stalemate.

Last semester, colleges put up $168 million to cover the grants. But many have said they can't do the same this semester, according to a survey by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

Meanwhile, Rauner's administration criticized what it called "financial mismanagement" within public higher education institutions in response to Chicago State University saying it might not have funds to operate come March.

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"Let's find a sensible and responsible way to fund MAP and higher education by tying such funding to other spending reductions or cost-saving reforms," top Rauner aide Richard Goldberg wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Brooke Chilton, a senior at Illinois Wesleyan University, said students are anxious about the uncertainty with the scholarships.

"All the help that I get from the university and the state, it's all just a big puzzle. And when you take this puzzle piece out of it, it's really going to hurt me," she said.

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