Dunn says SIU will remain open despite potential cuts - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Dunn says SIU will remain open despite potential cuts

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Illinois -

WSIL -- Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn spoke with Illinois senators on Thursday in Springfield to discuss funding that institutions desperately need.

He said the school will not close, but they are really hurting.

"SIU is not going to close. We may look like a very different institution two or three or four years down the line, depending on what happens to state support. We're not going anywhere," he said.

On Wednesday, Dunn released a list of potential cuts the school will have to make if Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget proposal is approved. The proposed fiscal year 2017 budget requests a 20 percent cut to higher education. If that happens, Dunn said programs will be dropped and 400 classes will be cut, and that is only a part of it.

But the proposed budget is not what has Dunn really worried.

He just wants a budget, any budget.

"We still have to rely on some level of state support, whether it's the 20 percent reduction, a ten percent or a 92 percent, whatever comes forward,"

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

Illinois is in its ninth month without a fiscal year 2016 budget and so far SIU has fronted the money to their students and employees, money the state is holding off on.

"Don't forget that we've also floated the state in terms of payments that we hadn't received," he said.

Republican state Sen. Dale Righter of Mattoon said it is time lawmakers take action.

"At some point, we need to move forward. Put a bill in committee and have a conversation about it," Righter said.

The senator said discussions and solutions for significant issues always happen behind closed doors at the Capitol but, "that's not working right now."

Righter believes legislation regarding higher education funding needs to be pushed through committee for discussion, whether people support the bills or not, just to get some conversation flowing.

One of those ideas is about performance funding, something Dunn does not want to do.

"It is not in SIU's DNA," Dunn said. "It shuts the door to access for students who, we at SIU, take a chance on. Particularly at SIU Carbondale."

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said it is clear the state needs reform.

"We've got to do things to bring your cost of doing business down," Rose said. "So we can create more taxpayers, make it easier for you to operate and put us in a position where we can more consistently and reliably fund you."

Dunn said he knows many potential students are looking elsewhere and fall applications are looking scarce, but it is too early to tell if there is a real problem.

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