Governor Bruce Rauner's top education aide is defending his budget proposal for colleges and universities.
Secretary of Education Beth Purvis appeared before a House Committee last week.
In a two-hour grilling that one Republican called "an inquisition," representatives pressed Purvis to justify slashing higher education by almost 60 percent over the past two years. Her answers repeatedly referred to the ongoing "budget crisis," pension costs, and students leaving Illinois to go to school in other states. She was also asked what the administration had done to help schools. "Actually, the responsibility of running those universities and those programs falls directly on those boards. So in appointing high-quality candidates to those boards, I think the governor has done a very important job, as has my team, in putting people on those." Rauner has proposed funding higher education at up to 90 percent of the 2015 level. That's the last time Illinois had a full budget. A recent report from bond rating agency Moody's says state universities have been shorted $2.2 billion dollars since the budget fight began.