Western Courier

Bipartisan budget failure

Patrick Quinlan

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Yet another week has passed and still there are no signs that the budget standoff in Springfield, Illinois is any closer to ending. Students now have begun jumping on the political bandwagon, signing petitions and lobbying representatives to return funding to schools, lest they cut funding or shut down entirely in the spring 2016 semester.

 Many of these students lack the political pull to actually change anything, but the Student Advocacy Day on Tuesday in Springfield was no doubt a nice touch. Unfortunately, people can protest, rally and yell chants all they want, but the reality of the situation is that neither side is all too excited about caving to the other.

 It, therefore, becomes necessary to examine why each side will not cave. On the Democratic side, House Speaker Mike Madigan — who, for all but two years, has been speaker since 1983 — wants the same budget that has been passed for the past decade or so, including full funding for every governmental program. His expectation is that this standoff, like every other standoff he has overseen during his tenure as speaker, will again go his way.

 Gov. Bruce Rauner, a fiscal conservative, responded by saying that the Illinois constitution requires a balanced budget, and has proposed a 30 percent cut of higher education funding to do so. He also claims that the unconstitutionality of budgets proposed by the Democratic House and Senate will never pass with his signature on them. These stark differences have created the standoff that has put the educational potential of thousands of students in jeopardy.

 Ideological differences aside this budget standoff is the perfect metaphor for both parties when it comes to public welfare (“Oh, you’re relying on us? Sorry, scoring political points is more important”). Neither side really cares for the students that were expecting MAP grant funding next semester but will not receive it, nor do they care for the universities, like Western Illinois University, that have fronted that money to their students at great expense. The only thing they care about is making their political enemies appear weak in the eyes of the rest of the state.

 This shortsighted view of the issue at hand is one of the main reasons that all governmental programs inevitably fall to corruption and unsuccessful ends. The well-meaning politician may work hard his entire career, but he will always be overrun by his corrupt counterparts and the big money of unions and corporations, at the expense of the economic and civil liberties of his constituents.

 I might add that ideologically I don’t think education at any level should be government run, as achievement and teacher pay is much better in private institutions when compared to public ones, but it is a blunt reality that this will not be the case any time soon. As such, I find myself supporting any budget that will give thousands of students across the state access to the funding they need to remain enrolled, and an end to the corruption and disingenuous rhetoric that always spews from the politicians of both sides.

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Bipartisan budget failure