Public Policy Institute receives almost $1 million

By Gus Bode

Money to be spread out over next two years

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute received a grant of almost $1 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Education, which will help support initiatives and programs sponsored by the institute.

The endowment, which totals $992,000 in Direct Grant programs, was approved by Congress last year, was appropriated last week and announced Wednesday.

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Mike Lawrence, director of the institute, said Congress has planned on giving SIUC $5 million over the next several years.

“The institute has addressed several tough issues, and Congress has seen the work we do is worth while,” Lawrence said.

Over the past several years, the state has allocated less money to SIUC, which has resulted in the institute’s budget being slashed by 20 percent. The 2004-05 operating budget is about $500,000, Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the budget is not enough to keep the institute bringing in keynote speakers such as Art Simon, the late senator Paul Simon’s brother and president emeritus of Bread for the World humanitarian organization; Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist and author; and Don Cochran, former assistant federal prosecutor.

Despite statewide budget cuts, Lawrence said federal endowments and private donations have been able to keep the institute out of the red.

“This [endowment] allows us to carry forward with initiatives and programs even when the state money is reduced,” Lawrence said.

The institute has been able to raise nearly $8 million in private and federal endowments in the past, Lawrence said.

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Lawrence also said southern Illinois legislators, such as U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, State Sen. John Shimkus and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, have helped get this legislation get through Congress.

In a press release, Costello said the endowment would help continue the work of the institute.

“The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute provides additional opportunities to act on important policy issues impacting not only our state, but the nation and our world,” Costello said.

Reporter Matthew McConkey can be reached at [email protected]

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