News Local/State

EIU And Community Officials Plead For State Funding


Speakers at Tuesday's s news conference on the Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston had one common message: EIU needs state funding now.

Most speakers stayed away from blaming any specific people for the state's budget impasse, but there were exceptions.

"Governor Rauner is taking our money, our livelihood, and our community," Hung said, "and he is using that to fuel his agenda.  Balancing our state's budget is very important, but it should not rely only on cuts."EIU Associate Professor Dr. Kai "Bill" Hung singled out one name during his seven-minute speech.

But Effingham Mayor Jeff Bloemker said the governor is not to blame for the state's financial issues.

"He is only doing what he said he would do," Bloemker said.  "I believe we all need to call on those responsible for the untenable pension, tort, prevailing wage, and gerrymandering burdens that have been developed in Illinois over the past 40 years or more."

The mayors of Charleston and Mattoon also spoke during the press conference, as did State Representative Reggie Phillips of Charleston and State Senator Dale Righter of Mattoon, both Republicans.  Phillips advocated for legislation that would provide $160 million of emergency funding for state universities for the current fiscal year,

"It funds $160 million of emergency funding to colleges, such as Chicago State and Eastern Illinois University," Phillips said.  "I signed on as a Republican.  It has a funding mechanism to it called Senate Bill 3044.  You'll hear more about that."Phillips said he has signed on as a co-sponsor of HB 6409, proposed by Democrat Ken Dunkin of Chicago.

SB3044 was filed last week by Matt Murphy, a Republican from Palatine.  It would eliminate the requirement that funds transferred from one state fund to another during fiscal year 2015 be repaid within 18 months.

HB6409 would also provide $40 million in funding to Illinois community colleges for the current fiscal year.