Layoffs looming, Reggie Phillips pushes for bipartisan efforts to help EIU finances
With Eastern Illinois University (EIU) recently announcing plans for layoffs and furloughs, incumbent state Rep. Reggie Phillips (R-110th District) is pushing for bipartisan efforts to help fund higher education in Illinois more effectively.
EIU announced plans this week to lay off approximately 200 non-instructional employees, as well as furlough all administrative and professional staff in March to make it through the spring semester.
“The main reason 200 may be laid off is because for the first time in more than 10 years, the Republicans have some leadership to push back on the Springfield career politicians (on both sides) who have led the state to the brink of bankruptcy,” Phillips recently told the East Central Reporter.
Phillips explained that these problems were inevitable because there were never any feasible fiscal solutions.
“Another reason is we haven’t funded higher education because there really isn’t an avenue to pay for it,” Phillips said. “So we pass another bill to appropriate funds for, say, MAP (grants) and community colleges. Where is the money going to come from?”
Gov. Bruce Rauner is aiming for a 32 percent cut to the university. Phillips supports cuts, but at a lower rate of 6.5 percent. Although these cuts are not popular, Phillips believes it is the right choice that will produce better outcomes.
“This is exactly where (House Speaker Michael) Madigan wants us to be,” he said. “He is hoping that the backlash will be at Republicans and force us to be the ones to initiate the increase in taxes including property taxes for K-12 education up and down the state.”
Phillips said there are better ways to solve this problem without raising taxes.
“The Republicans, under Gov. Rauner, have put forth a bill (to) fund all of higher education, including the universities,” Phillips said. “It will also be an avenue to pay for it and a bill to cut procurement costs to the state, giving a half billion savings going forward to help offset funding.”
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