Around Illinois – May 29

May 29, 2012
  • House committee considers university cuts
  • Detention center opponents continue struggle
  • Kirk’s ex-wife files election funding complaint

State universities face cuts exceeding $88 million

Illinois public universities would lose more than $88 million under cuts being considered by an Illinois House committee. That six-percent cut in next year's budget is nearly double the reduction in the budget plan that passed the Senate last week.

The dollar amount of the cuts would vary depending on the size of the institution:

  • Northern Illinois University would lose more than $6.1 million.
  • The three campuses of the University of Illinois -- Urbana, Chicago and Springfield – would lose more than $42 million.
  • Eastern Illinois University would lose $2.8 million.
  • Illinois State University would lose nearly $4.8 million.
  • Western Illinois University would lose nearly $3.4 million.
  • Southern Illinois University would lose more than $14.7 million.
  • Chicago State and Northeastern Illinois universities each would lose nearly $2.5 million.
  • Governors State University, in the south Chicago suburbs, would be cut by $1.6 million.

The proposal also slashes $15 million from scholarships for needy students through the Monetary Assistance Program, also known as MAP Grants.

The budget proposal also would eliminate reimbursement for mandatory tuition waivers received by veterans, and the cost would fall back on the universities. And that might not be all.

 On top of that, the state could shift more of the pension burden for university employees onto schools. A proposal to deal with the state's under-funded pension systems is expected to come up for a vote today.

Detention center opponents are struggling

Supporters of an Illinois bill that would block a proposed immigrant detention center are struggling to clear their last legislative hurdle.

South suburban Crete is considering contracting with Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America to build and run such a facility.

The bill blocking such an arrangement passed the state Senate in March and a House committee this month.

But its supporters have not lined up all their House floor votes yet.

Over the weekend, they protested at the office of Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, who's close to construction unions that want to help build the detention center.

Carla Navoa, who works at a Korean nonprofit group near D'Amico's district, questions claims that the detention center will create jobs.

“Why can't that go towards projects that [are] not going to end up housing hundreds of people who just, you know, came to this country in pursuit of more economic opportunity?” she asked.

Kirk’s ex-wife files campaign complaint

The ex-wife of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has filed a complaint against the invalid lawmaker, saying he violated campaign law by not disclosing payments to his now-former girldfriend’s company.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Kimberly Vertolli, a lawyer who herself received $40,000 from the campaign, filed the complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

The girlfriend, public relations consultant Dodie McCracken, has acknowledged receiving more than $143,000 in fees and expenses for her campaign work. A former live-in girlfriend, she is no longer romantically involved with Kirk, according to a campaign aide.
Kirk's campaign has characterized Vertolli as an aggrieved ex-wife and labeled "groundless" her complaint filed late last year about payments to McCracken.