- Published: Thursday, March 17, 2016 03:49 PM
Southern Illinois University and other state universities would finally get state support and potentially scale back program cuts and layoffs thanks to legislation Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) supported Thursday in the Illinois Senate.
Forby helped the Senate approve legislation that includes $185 million in support for SIU. The vote comes just days after university leaders warned lawmakers that deep cuts and layoffs were coming because the state had stopped supporting state schools.
“State schools deserve state support,” Forby said. “SIU is the economic engine of our region. We must work hard to keep this institution open and keep jobs in Southern Illinois. The fact that more than 300 faculty and administrative professionals could be laid off is outrageous.”
The proposal Forby supported also cements an Amtrak deal to keep trains running through Carbondale and elsewhere in the state.
Gov. Rauner and state transportation officials announced a deal with Amtrak in February. However, because the governor last year vetoed the budget that includes Amtrak funding, he had no spending authority to honor that contract. The legislation Forby helped pass gives the governor the authority to honor that contract.
“Amtrak is a vital transportation option. Thousands of SIU students and staff rely on it along with tourists coming to enjoy all Southern Illinois has to offer. I’m glad thegovernor abandoned his efforts to slash Amtrak service and will now have the ability to back up the contract he signed,” said Forby.
The measure, Senate Bill 2059, passed the Senate with a vote of 39 to 18 and will now go to the House for consideration.