The Latest: Rauner, Democrats bicker over budget blame


CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on budget troubles at Chicago State University (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats are trading barbs over who is to blame for the possibility that Chicago State University may have to close due to financial problems.

Illinois’ public colleges and universities have waited since July for state funding held up by a budget standoff in Springfield.

Rauner accused Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and his colleagues Wednesday of playing games by stalling budget negotiations to force a tax hike.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown put the blame on Rauner, saying it was the governor who vetoed the spending plan lawmakers sent him last year and that “now he wants to pretend that this is something that Democrats did.”

The state’s budget should’ve taken effect July 1. Rauner says he vetoed the budget because it was billions out of balance.

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3:20 p.m.

Chicago State University is backing off a request that department chairs collect keys from faculty and staff while the financially troubled school grapples with a financial crisis.

University spokesman Tom Wogan says faculty and staff now are being asked for their key numbers so the university has an inventory of keys that might be collected in the event of layoffs.

Wogan says the request was clarified in a meeting that university President Thomas Calhoun held Wednesday with other university officials.

On Monday, administrator Aleshia Renee Terry asked department chairs to begin collecting keys “as soon as possible.”

The university has been at risk of running out of money as Illinois’ public colleges and universities have waited since July for state funding held up by the budget standoff in Springfield.

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12:45 p.m.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he’s “very upset” that Chicago State University may have to close due to financial problems.

Rauner said Wednesday at an unrelated event in Springfield that it’s “an outrage.” Chicago State officials have asked employees and students to turn over their keys to campus facilities. The financially troubled university on Chicago’s South Side has been at risk of running out of money as Illinois’ public colleges and universities have waited since July for state funding held up by the budget standoff in Springfield.

Rauner says there’s no excuse for what’s going on at Chicago State. He says that “should never happen.”

The governor noted that there is legislation pending in the Illinois Legislature that would help Chicago State and other higher education institutions by freeing up more than $160 million of excess special purpose funds. Rauner says the measure should be called for a vote and passed.

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11:30 a.m.

Employees and students at Chicago State University are being asked to turn in their keys to campus facilities in an example of how the lack of a state budget is affecting higher education in Illinois.

The financially troubled university on Chicago’s South Side has been at risk of running out of money as Illinois’ public colleges and universities have waited since July for state funding held up by the budget standoff in Springfield.

Notices of potential layoffs were sent in February to all 900 employees. University President Thomas Calhoun also eliminated spring break and announced the semester will end April 28.

On Monday, administrator Aleshia Renee Terry asked department chairs to begin collecting keys from faculty, staff, administrators and students “as soon as possible.”