Leef spotlights threat to colleges from state bond-rating downgrade
Dr. Jeffrey Leef, a career radiologist with the University of Chicago who is currently running as a Republican candidate for the 7th District U.S. House seat, recently responded to potential repercussions based on the state’s bond-rating downgrade.
“For more than 50 years, Illinois has operated under the policy of, ‘Don't pay me now. Pay me later,’ Leef said. “Well, the chickens are coming home, not only to roost, but to take a dump on the heads of us and our children.”
Seven of Illinois’ public universities are facing possible hardship following Moody’s bond rating downgrade — University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University.
“Democratic legislators are feigning shock and moral dismay that Gov. (Bruce) Rauner is saying enough is enough,” Leef said. “At some point, someone has to take a stand. Unfortunately, this stand will temporarily adversely affect our students... . Tuition will rise, and programs will disappear. This will only reverse its course if competition is allowed to kick in.”
The seven state universities were recently placed on review for possible downgrading by Moody’s Investors Service following the agency’s recent bond-rating downgrade for the State of Illinois to Baa2 from Baa1. Reviewers will assess the impact of Illinois’ budget impasse on each university and each school’s respective ability to adjust to reduced or delayed state funding.
“As a parent of two students currently attending the University of Illinois, I am ready to both verbally and financially support my beliefs,” Leef said.
Moody's currently calculates approximately $2.3 billion of public university debt in Illinois.