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Rauner touts higher education advantages despite damage caused by impasse

* The governor was on CNBC yesterday to talk about the state’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2. He was his usual self. Click here to watch. I don’t know why he couldn’t answer the “cloud” question. Chicago has one of the best Internet hubs in the world.

Anyway, one of the things the governor talked a lot about was higher education. The DGA pounced…

[Yesterday] morning, Governor Bruce Rauner appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to talk about the state’s Amazon HQ2 bid and touted the state’s university system he called “second to none.” Left unsaid is that without Bruce Rauner, the university system would have been even stronger. Due to Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis, the state’s university system saw:

Enrollment drop by 70,000 students with some schools seeing drops of over 10% in enrollment;

Tuition and fees rise 6.7% system wide at a time when the state was not paying MAP grants;

A loss of 7,500 jobs;

And bond downgrades for many universities and colleges, leaving five with “junk” bond status including Governors State and Northeastern Illinois.

On CNBC, Rauner spent time profiling the strengths of Chicago and East-Central schools in particular, but those were some of the hardest hit. Illinois Economic Policy Institute found 78% of job losses occurred in the Chicago and East-Central Illinois, and nearly 60% of the enrollment drop came in the Chicagoland area. Chicago schools like Northeastern and Governors State saw tuition rise over 10%.

When Republican Representative Terri Bryant of Southern Illinois voted for the budget deal, she said “I hope you will help me bring my university back.” Bruce Rauner vetoed the budget and called for legislators to uphold his veto. Now, he wants to brag about the state’s schools.

“Governor Rauner is without shame,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner touts Illinois’ education system to out-of-state businesses while cutting resources at home. He locked the state in a two-year budget impasse that devastated Illinois’ colleges and universities, cut jobs, and increased debt. Rauner’s failed leadership threatens the state’s economic future by leaving the state’s schools worse than he found them.”

* As did the Pritzker campaign…

Yesterday, Bruce Rauner praised our state universities as “second to none” in a CNBC interview, but throughout his term, Rauner has driven those same public colleges and universities into the ground.

Rauner’s budget crisis caused “significant damage” and forced “some of the deepest cuts to higher education in the nation” on Illinois schools according to a new report by The Atlantic. Here’s the real Rauner record:

    * Bond downgrades: Seven state universities saw their credit downgraded, five to junk status.
    * Enrollment drop: 72,000 fewer students enrolled in Illinois public colleges and universities.
    * Funding cuts: Higher education would see a 20 percent cut in Rauner’s proposed budget.
    * Lasting damage: Public universities leaders say, “it will take years to neutralize the harm” to their schools after Rauner’s budget crisis.
    * Local economies hurt: $1 billion in economic activity disappeared each year.
    * Mass layoffs: 7,500 jobs were lost in higher education.
    * Rankings plunge: U of I, ISU, SIU dropped in the latest U.S. News World Report Rankings.
    * Tuition hikes: 7 percent tuition and fee increases were passed on to students.

“Bruce Rauner decimated the same public colleges and universities he is now calling ‘second to none,’” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Bond downgrades, enrollment and rankings drops, mass layoffs, and tuition hikes are the damage done by this failed governor to our state’s most valuable institutions.”

* Meanwhile

The state’s budget crisis has subsided for now, but its impact on faculty recruitment remains a key issue at the University of Illinois.

Campus officials are still massaging the numbers, but outside recruiting of the UI’s top professors was up 50 percent in each of the past two years over previous years, according to interim Provost John Wilkin.

“It was a challenging couple of years,” Wilkin said at Monday afternoon’s annual meeting of the faculty, where the issue generated some discussion. […]

In 2015-16, a total of 124 faculty members were recruited by other schools, up from 84 the previous year; at least 50 opted to stay for the following year, many with the help of retention packages. And the number of new faculty hired dropped by half.

* Related…

* Chicago officially struts its stuff for Amazon: Though the statement refers only to “the Chicago area,” in fact the state and the city submitted one joint bid and it includes sites outside the metropolitan area, a source familiar with the matter tells me.

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