SIU president discusses budget concerns with lawmakers in Springfield

SIU president discusses budget concerns with lawmakers in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - The state's 254 day budget stalemate lingers as Illinois' House lawmakers take a one month hiatus from Springfield.

Meanwhile, higher education was the topic of a Senate appropriations committee hearing on Thursday, March 10.

The presidents of the state's public colleges and universities testified on the proposed 2017 budget. Illinois' public colleges and universities have yet to see state funding for 2016.

Southern Illinois University System President Randy Dunn touted the SIU System's affordability and its strong ties to the region.

On Wednesday, the system announced it would need to cut more than 400 employees if the governor's 2017 budget is approved.

"There has been an established covenant between the state of Illinois and its public universities on how we are going to fund that state university system," Dunn said.

Dunn stressed how the university is willing to work with legislators on reform to higher education funding.

"We cannot do what we do without a consistent and, and predictable level of state support as we come from this crisis," Dunn said.

The hearing discussed reforms to pension that could reduce costs to the university and state.

Dunn also said the university would be willing to consider a performance level funding model that would penalize universities for poor student performance.

"Our DNA is accessibility. It is bringing in all students who we think have any ability to show college success," Dunn said.

"Working with them in retention programs, advisement programs, first generation support; we have an array of programs to support these students," Dunn said.

"You don't want to have a performance funding model that causes an 'SIU' to say, 'You know, we're not going to take those students anymore,'" Dunn said.

"It shuts the door to access for students who we at SIU take a chance on. Particularly at SIU Carbondale," Dunn said.

State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) released this statement:

Southern Illinois University is one of the top employers in my district, as well as one of Illinois' finest institutions of higher education. What we heard today was a real reminder of just what is happening in the face of the governor eliminating all state support for state schools. The thing is, we don't have a number to work with because we don't have a budget. SIU can't prepare for the future and operate as it needs to because they don't know where they will stand in the coming months. This situation could have been avoided when we passed a higher education bill last May. The governor blocked us from making progress. First he ran out the businesses, now he is running out the students. How many times do we need to build something up just for it to be torn down for us to rebuild it again?"What we need is a school funding plan, and we need it now.

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