This week’s e-news follows an incredibly fast-paced two weeks of action in Springfield and big news that will likely have long term effects on the power structure in State government. I want to thank you all for writing, calling, faxing, Facebook messaging and more during the last six months of the legislative Session. Your input on the important decisions facing the legislature is invaluable to me.
Throughout the Summer I will bring you updates on the myriad of legislation that has passed the House and Senate and awaits the Governor’s signature. As news breaks on bill signings or bill vetoes, Bryant E-news will keep you up to date. For the sake of keeping this newsletter focused on current events, I’m going to focus on two items this week.
1. Governor signs balanced budget – I voted Yes. More $ for schools, SIU, and transportation
2. Turmoil at SIU and my continued calls for Randy Dunn to resign
Casting a Yes Vote for a 2nd Straight Balanced Budget
Here is my press release from the day that the State budget passed for the FY 19 year.
Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) joined a super majority of Illinois House lawmakers on Thursday in voting yes for a full-year, balanced State budget for the 2019 fiscal year. Bryant says she is proud of the hard work and cooperation that went into negotiating the balanced budget and urged her colleagues to continue working together on other major issues facing the State.
The on-time, in-balance, full-year budget cleared the House on the last day of regularly scheduled Session. With Governor Rauner’s signature, the bipartisan budget agreement will represent a departure from prior years when partisan gridlock kept the State from having a budget for more than two and a half years.
“Chaos is not normal,” Bryant said. “What we had in years past with not having a budget or a plan was simply chaos. During last July’s budget action, I think it is safe to say that a lot of members, including myself, put their political careers on the line and did what was necessary to end the budget stalemate and save the State from junk bond status and a host of other major complications. This FY 19 budget agreement is a step in the right financial direction and will add much-needed stability to the State’s economic outlook.”
Bryant says the involvement of House and Senate Republicans played a significant role in helping to craft next fiscal year’s spending plan. Bryant has argued publicly for months that Illinois must stick to a strict fiscal diet in the coming years if the State is to ever eliminate its outstanding debt obligations.
“HB 109 cuts more than $1 billion in spending,” Bryant said. “These cuts, and this fiscally sound, balanced budget could not have been achieved without the participation of Republicans.”
In addition to the welcome, but somewhat surprising bipartisan agreement, Bryant says she believes the budget takes aim at the problem of dropping enrollment at Illinois’ public Universities by providing a 2% increase in funding for higher education and makes MAP grants available for four years at a time instead of just one.
“The budget impasse had a devastating and chilling effect on our State’s higher education institutions,” Bryant said. “Some stability has returned due to the fact that we have a budget now, but this year’s budget increase for higher education should signal to Illinois’ high school students that we are dedicated to improving our Universities and that we are going to continue to make investments in our future leaders and keep our kids going to schools closer to home.”
The Governor has now signed the FY 19 budget into law. To read more on this topic please follow the news links below.
More Controversy At Southern Illinois University – Board of Trustees Members Schedules, then Cancel Meeting to Take up Issue of Randy Dunn’s Employment as SIU President
By now, you are probably aware that controversy has been swirling around Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn for several months. Shortly after Carlo Montemagno was hired as SIU-C Chancellor, news reports in Southern Illinois highlighted a rocky relationship, and it seemed the two men couldn’t get along while trying to implement Montemagno’s plan for reorganization at the campus.
That bad press was followed later by a revelation in an op-ed in the Southern Illinoisan in late May that revealed President Dunn had used the term “bitchers” in an official e-mail to SIU-E officials in reference to the Carbondale campus. That day, I took to the Illinois House Floor to call on Randy Dunn to resign in part because he was working against SIU-C in favor of SIU-E.
In the past few days, a meeting of the Executive Committee of the SIU Board of Trustees was scheduled and then abruptly canceled.
Here are excerpts from SIU Trustee Joel Sambursky’s Facebook page:
“Last week after the SIU Board meeting in Springfield all trustees received information that in my view warrants the calling of an urgent meeting to consider placing Randy Dunn on administrative leave while a thorough investigation into his behavior is conducted by external legal counsel. Should the executive committee decide to do so, an acting President would then need to be appointed to allow for the work of the campuses to continue while President Dunn is on leave.”
Adding…”With the next SIU Board meeting now more than three months away, it would be unconscionable for the executive committee to not meet to discuss and potentially take action on matters that are permitted under SIU Board policy, since they are “urgent and cannot be postponed to a regular meeting of the Board Apparently Chair Sholar not only disagrees with my view of the Bylaws, but also that of the General Council of the SIU System. This sets the wrong precedent for the Chair of the Board to claim the ability to override the majority of the executive committee and to ignore the legal opinion provided by the General Council of the SIU System.
I am glad to find out this afternoon, that now Chair Sholar is willing to convene the full board to discuss the items on the executive committee agenda that was planned for tomorrow. However, I am disappointed that she believes the meeting can be delayed another two weeks until June 21st.
Therefore, I am requesting tomorrow’s executive committee meeting to be cancelled and I am asking Chair Sholar to call a special meeting of the full Board to discuss and possibly take action on the same items listed for tomorrow’s executive committee meeting. I am also asking Chair Sholar to make every effort to convene the full Board as soon as possible.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I think it is clear to see that SIU is in turmoil under President Dunn’s leadership and has been for quite some time now. The only way to restore much needed stability is for President Dunn to either resign or be let go by the full SIU Board of Trustees. SIU deserves a leader that is working for the entire system, not someone that is working to undermine one of the most critical parts.
You can read more on this story by visiting the links below:
My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com – Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!