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SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Bruce Rauner isn't the only state official hitting the road during the Legislature's spring recess.

With the Republican chief executive making a 17-stop swing through western and central Illinois this week in support of a series of business reforms, members of a Senate budget panel are heading to Carbondale Wednesday to discuss the governor's controversial spending proposal.

The Democrat who heads the committee said the Southern Illinois stop is just one in a series of local hearings designed to take testimony from organizations and individuals who will be affected by Rauner's plan to slash spending in order to address a $6 billion drop in revenue.

"These cuts have many, many huge ramifications," said state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago.

Among those scheduled to testify is Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn, who announced last week that he is recommending a 6 percent tuition increase on incoming freshmen as a way to offset some of the 31.5 percent cut in state aid Rauner has proposed.

“Having members of the Senate Appropriations Committee come to our campus will give us one more opportunity to tell the SIU story and highlight the positive economic impact we have on the central and southern Illinois region," Dunn said Tuesday.

Dunn plans to tell the panel that the "devastating" cuts would have a major ripple effect throughout the region because SIU has a significant economic impact on Southern Illinois.

Similar concerns are expected to be voiced by hospital administrators, who are facing cuts to the Medicaid health insurance program.

"Hospitals are huge economic drivers in the region," Steans said.

Stacy Bertrand, admissions and marketing director for the Daystar Care Center in Cairo, said she plans to tell senators what effect a potential 15 percent reduction in funding might have on her nursing care facility.

"It is difficult for this facility to run under the Medicaid guidelines that we currently have in place. If the cuts come down that are being proposed it is going to make it incredibly difficult to provide the qualify of care that we're currently providing," Bertrand said Tuesday.

Local elected officials, including Marion Mayor Bob Butler and Carbondale Acting Mayor Don Monty, also have been invited to discuss their concerns about Rauner's plan to reduce the amount cities receive in state income taxes by 50 percent.

Lawmakers return to action April 14.

kurt.erickson@lee.net

217-782-4043/@Illinois_Stage

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