SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan deal to cut $300 million in spending in Illinois is set to affect college students, as well as Chicago residents with sickle cell anemia.
The Chicago Tribune reported the deal reached weeks ago by Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers calls for a 2.25 percent spending cut across much of state government. But with the cuts meant to help close a $1.6 billion hole in the current budget, they could be felt unevenly. As many as 3,000 college students will miss out on grants this school year. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission has had $8.4 million cut from its budget, though program spokeswoman Lynne Baker said grants were withheld pre-emptively and students won’t have to pay back anything.
Grants through the commission average $3,500 for students at public schools and $3,900 for those at private institutions. Families of students make about $30,000 for those considered dependents.
“During the gubernatorial transition, we were unsure at the beginning about whether we would need to hold back our funds, so we were very conservative in our forecasting,” Baker said.
A $500,000 cut in funding looms for a Chicago sickle cell center at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. Last year, the emergency pain center treated 820 people with the rare disorder, which the center’s Dr. Victor Gordeuk said is mainly diagnosed in African-Americans.
“Patients with sickle cell disease require pain medication intravenously,” Gordeuk said. “We have a dedicated care center to treat these episodes. If funding is removed, it will be very hard for us to continue those services.”
Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said reductions are part of the “bipartisan legislative solution” to fill the hole in the current budget. Other cuts include $419,300 from a state Department of Human Services domestic violence shelter program and $225,900 from an agency program for expectant parents.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com