SPRINGFIELD - A $2.26 billion general funds budget recommended by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today places emphasis on access and affordability, economic development, and accountability.
The Governor's budget proposes level funding for the state's need-based student aid program and a change in the eligibility formula to increase assistance for the neediest students. The "truth in tuition" legislation, signed last year by the Governor, will freeze tuition for incoming freshmen in the fall 2004 for the duration of their course of study.
In addition to funding of student aid programs, key elements of the budget include:
- $476,000 for Northern Illinois University baccalaureate completion programs in Rockford, and $300,000 to expand the Quad Cities campus of Western Illinois University as part of Governor Blagojevich's Opportunity Returns initiative.
- $967,000 to open the new University Center of Lake County, a partnership of 16 universities bringing baccalaureate completion and graduate programs to one of the fastest growing regions of the state.
- Increased funding for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy to sustain its premier programs and service to other school districts throughout the state.
The budget outlined by the Governor to a joint session of the General Assembly also recognized the efforts of public universities in recent years to reduce administrative costs. The proposed spending plan also noted that all funds - both state appropriated funds and university-held monies, including tuition revenue - are presented in the budget.