Legislation that would separate SIU Carbondale and SIU Edwardsville has passed out of a House Committee.
Rep. Jay Hoffman's (D-Swansea) bill would create a separate board for SIUC and SIUE, and it would have the School of Medicine be a part of Edwardsville's structure. Hoffman says his proposal would boost both campuses.
"I have no desire at all to hurt the Carbondale campus. I really believe that if each campus were to have its own board like the rest of the university systems do, that we - and you - could focus on the strengths."
Hoffman's proposal has been presented before, without success. This bill was introduced after SIU's Board of Trustees last week failed to approve a plan to reallocate $5 million in state funds from Carbondale to Edwardsville in next year's budget.
During debate, Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) questioned Hoffman about his motives for filing the bill.
"So this is a direct reaction to being unhappy with decision that the Board of Trustees made?"
"No, it's a direct reaction to Carbondale getting 64% of the money and Edwardsville 36% of the money, and it's a direct reaction to the infighting of the board that has to stop."
Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie (D-Harrisburg) calls the measure a "slap in the face" to the Carbondale campus and the overall system. She says it would devastate southern Illinois' economy.
Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) says funding inequities between the two campuses could be solved by the state increasing its allocation to Edwardsville, not forcing the system to change its structure.
"We don't take from one prison to give to another, so we shouldn't take from one educational system to give to another - because education is too important."
Bryant says there wasn't enough time for the public to be informed about the bill's hearing in Springfield. She says separating the universities hurts both of them - it doesn't boost them as proponents of the legislation say it would.