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Illinois lawmakers OK $600M fix for colleges

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Illinois governor Bruce Rauner. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Illinois lawmakers have approved a $600 million short-term funding infusion for higher education institutions that have been struggling financially due to not receiving state money during the state budget impasse.

The Senate unanimously approved the deal Friday after House members voted for it 106-2.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign the bill. He issued a statement through his spokeswoman that praised lawmakers in the Democrat-led chambers for putting “aside political differences” to provide emergency assistance for colleges and universities.

Rauner and legislative Democrats have been deadlocked on a spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1, which has led some state universities to institute layoffs and cutbacks. Chicago State University is on the verge of closing.

Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks, who voted no on the bill, says he prefers a full resolution to the budget that should’ve taken effect July 1.

Money for the education fix is possible because of a surplus in the state’s Education Assistance Fund. The funding proposal also has nearly $170 million in tuition grants for low-income students.