Democratic lawmakers send Rauner bill to pay for tuition assistance

SPRINGFIELD — Senate Democrat leadership say it’s a second chance for students to get tuition assistance, but Republicans say it’s an empty promise.

Senate President John Cullerton’s office said they are sending the governor Senate Bill 2043 Tuesday while the governor’s Office of Management and Budget has already recommended a veto.

The bill passed last month and Democrats say it would appropriate money for the tuition assistance, or MAP grants, and also provide state dollars for community colleges. Before passing the Senate last month leading Republican Matt Murphy said the is a “hollow, empty gesture.”

“This is an opportunity for some people to go back home and say ‘hey we passed this bill for $720 million for you, just don’t look under the hood and realize that we don’t actually have $720 million,’” Murphy said.

Republican legislators say their plan would fund MAP grants, community colleges and public universities but with companion legislation that would allow the governor’s office to manage available state resources, including unpopular special fund sweeps.

Cullerton’s office said in a news release they held onto the bill for the maximum time allowable to give the governor time to reconsider the legislation.

A news conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon will announced the delivery of the legislation that’s expected to be vetoed by the governor.