Families in Illinois are struggling to afford higher education for their children. Incoming undergraduate students have seen tuition and mandatory fees at Illinois’ public universities increase by more than 60 percent since 2004. But that’s not the only problem. The government expects families to pick up the education bill for state employees, too.
The Upward Mobility Program, available only to American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) members, pays 100 percent of tuition costs at public institutions and a portion of tuition costs at select private universities. Employees must fulfill a work commitment of just two years in state service to receive this perk.
In 2011 alone, $4.75 million was allocated to the program, equal to more than $4,000 for each of the 1,144 employees who participated. Illinois needs to stop choosing union perks over core government services. If it doesn’t, this culture of wasteful spending coupled with the state’s deteriorating fiscal position will prevent the upward mobility of all Illinoisans.
For more government waste, see “The 2012 Illinois Piglet Book.”