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Illinois University Students Plead With State Lawmakers For Budget

Students from Illinois universities on Thursday urged lawmakers to pass a budget this summer so they can keep taking classes without disruptions. 

At a state legislative hearing in Chicago, Amy Sticha, a biology research student at Northeastern Illinois University, told state lawmakers that morale is lower than ever on campus.

“Everyone is stressed,” Sticha said. “Everyone is anxious. Everyone I know has a back-up plan out of state.”

Illinois universities haven’t gotten any state money since the beginning of the year. At Northeastern, hundreds of student workers temporarily lost their campus jobs earlier this year. Late last month, the university announced it will be laying off 180 full-time workers. 

Others who testified at Thursday’s legislative hearing also spoke about students leaving Illinois for more financially stable states. 

“I do a little business in Indiana and they make fun of us,” said Jim Zimmer, who owns several student-housing properties in downstate Charleston, Illinois, where Eastern Illinois University is located. 

A group of students from Chicago State University also testified about the impact the budget impasse has had on their school and the surrounding community on Chicago’s Far South Side.

“To see that school not existing because of this political chess game of budgets and just the ego of our politicians is frustrating,” said Charles Preston, a recent CSU graduate. 

The Higher Education Appropriations Committee did not vote on Thursday, but all lawmakers are due back in Springfield next week for a special session.

Becky Vevea covers education for WBEZ. You can follow her at @WBEZeducation

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