Lawmakers defending higher education against budget cuts

SPRINGFIELD — Lawmakers defending higher education say it’s an economic issue. The governor’s budget proposes a 31 percent cut in state support for higher education.
That means either higher tuition or diminished universities, says State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), who says that means a direct loss of jobs at the state universities, and a ripple effect throughout the local economy.
Kotowski says one of the largest employers Downstate, south of Springfield, is Southern Illinois University, and this kind of a cut will have a half-a-billion-dollar impact on the citizens who live Downstate, in that area, and an impact on potential jobs that people are going get, and the jobs they’re trained for in the industries that are in and around that area,” he said.
The direct loss to Southern Illinois University, if the cuts go through as proposed, would be $64 million, which SIU President Randy Dunn says could mean the reduction of 450 jobs on the Carbondale campus and 250 jobs on the Edwardsville campus.
State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) says she believes the governor is willing to negotiate on the budget if he can pass his reform agenda.