College funding vote called off in surprise move
An Illinois House vote on an apparent bipartisan compromise to pay for community colleges, state universities and a key scholarship program was called off minutes before it was set to be taken Thursday night.
The surprise move made without explanation by state Rep. Rita Mayfield, a Waukegan Democrat, means the 10-month state budget stalemate that has led universities to threaten closure and community colleges to lay off staff will continue for at least one more day.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, also provided no explanation for the vote delay after they adjourned.
The House and Senate are both set to meet again Friday morning, a day that could be important because both are planning to take next week off. Failing to reach agreement Friday would mean a longer wait for schools that would be paid for in the plan, including the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, which has sounded alarms about the lack of funds.
Under the plan, universities, community colleges and IMSA would get enough money to keep going "through the summer," Mayfield said, while lawmakers work out a more complete deal.
Some Democrats expressed dismay that social services spending wasn't included in the deal.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's office tried to set an optimistic tone.
"The governor applauds the members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle who are coming together to deliver emergency assistance to our universities, community colleges and low-income students," spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement. "We hope the majority will respect the bipartisan agreement reached today and move the agreement to the governor's desk without delay."