Offering grants to 'B' students impossible in a failing state, Hammond, Davidsmeyer say
A bill to provide College Affordability Grants to college students who maintain a "B" average passed the House on Monday despite criticism from Republicans such as Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) and C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville).
Hammond argued that the two main organizations that monitor and guide higher education don't have the funds to support the measure.
“The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is opposed to this bill, as is the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) -- the two entities that help guide us on issues of higher education in the state of Illinois,” Hammond said. “The ISAC has many, many concerns with this bill because … they have been cut to the bone. They do not have the personnel ... [and] they certainly don’t have money for that.”
HB1316 would require the ISCA to provide selected full-time students at Illinois public universities or community colleges a yearly grant of up to $4,000 if they maintain a 3.0 average on a 4.0 grading scale. It was presented by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).
Davidsmeyer asserted that the state can’t even fund its current grants, such as MAP, and that starting a new program is folly.
“We are spreading ourselves too thin,” Davidsmeyer said. “We need to focus on things we can do well. Right now, I’m not sure if you can name one thing that the state of Illinois is doing well.”
Hammond commended the thinking behind the measure but called it impractical.
“While it is very laudable that the state of Illinois would have these wonderful programs for higher education, the fact of the matter is that we have been cutting higher education in budgets for the last 15 years,” Hammond said. “If you want to help higher education, then you get a balanced budget that funds higher education. Not these kind of ‘Oz’ programs that are going to cost nearly $400 million if it were even to become law.”
Davidsmeyer agreed, saying he just wanted “to make the point that we need to focus on things we can do well before we make additional promises.”
The bill passed 65-50 and awaits action in the Senate.