Illinois Governor JB Pritzker comes to SIU

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, as well as several other government officials and university administrators, gathered at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on the SIUC campus for a political breakfast meet and greet. 

Pritzker said he has a lot of plans for improving the state of Illinois, the Carbondale area and the university itself.  

Pritzker said education is a very important issue, and he is interested in improving the quality of education in the state of Illinois, as well as making college more affordable.  

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“If you really want a great economy in the long term, what you really want to do is invest in college and college affordability, and helping people who have the ability to do well in college to get into college,” Pritzker said. 

Pritzker said he believes investing in institutions of higher education is a way to help the economy flourish.  

Pritzker said one of the problems contributing to low enrollment at SIU is the lack of eligibility for monetary assistance programs. 

 “One of the main things I said during my campaign, and I am fulfilling it now is increasing the number of students who are eligible for the MAP grant,” Pritzker said. “I want to take the 140,000 people who, in theory, are eligible to get MAP grants and increase it by another 70,000.”

Investing in public and higher education is an issue that was taken seriously by most of the  representatives present at the meet and greet.  

“We want to make sure southern Illinois stays healthy and that Southern Illinois University stays healthy as well,” Terri Bryant, Illinois State Representative of the 115th district, said. “When nine public universities in the state of Illinois don’t have a healthy revenue source, then that can be factored into the issue of low enrollment.”  

The budget crisis affected a large number of colleges and universities in the state of Illinois and Pritzker along with the representatives are working to change the reputation of the state. 

Isabel Miller | @Isabelmmedia
Interim Chancellor Dunn speaks to community members on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019 inside Paul Simon Public Policy Institute during a meet and greet with legislatures.

“I want our youth to have a quality education so we can generate a quality workforce.” Susana Mendoza, Illinois State Comptroller, said. “SIU is a priority for me and I hope that the students believe that it is a priority.”  

Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost, Meera Komarraju, said she is glad the governor got to come and see how vibrant SIU is.

 “I would like to take the opportunity to thank Governor Pritzker for giving us a budget and showcasing SIUC and all of the wonderful things we are doing here,” Komarraju said. “I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome him to southern Illinois.”

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @BethanyRentfro

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