NIU President John G. Peters indicated in his March 24 campus update that “it is difficult to predict the precise course of this spring’s budget debate” and that “what happens in Springfield during the next 60 days will be of critical importance to every employee and annuitant at Northern Illinois University.”
His message to be alert, informed and engaged is an important one.
The state legislature took a break from Springfield this past week, so it’s a good time to assess where things stand.
Deadlines to pass substantive bills out of committee were last week. Several pieces of legislation have progressed while others are headed back to the drawing board.
House Bill 148 – concealed-carry in Illinois, which includes campuses, is up for debate in the House after passing out of committee. Illinois public universities and the Federation of Independent Colleges and Universities have expressed concerns about this proposal and have advocated for exemptions for their campuses.
House Bill 295 – the sex offender registration act would be amended to require that offender also register with public safety at higher education institutions. Passed the House and is in the Senate for committee assignment.
House Bill 1503 – provides for performance based budgeting, with specific outcome measures to be implemented within a two year period. This bill passed out of committee. NIU staff is reviewing items that could be part of a formula for this process.
House Bill 3220 – requires public universities to develop plans that outline accountability measures related to specific state policy objectives in conjunction with the Illinois Public Agenda. This is positioned for a vote on the House floor.
Senate Bill 114 – freezes public university tuition levels for two years. This has been placed on postponed consideration in the Higher Education Committee.
Senate Bill 135 – similar to SB114 but would allow the General Assembly to set tuition.
Bills stalled in committee:
House Bill 146 – pension code limits and COLA changes.
House Bill 152 – would have combined oversight of the Board of Education, the Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
House Bill 2950 – would have required campus police departments to release certain student information to local law enforcement.
House Bill 2959 – would have repealed university employee tuition waivers for dependents.
House Bill 3075 – would change the current provisions of the pension code.
House Bill 3269 – would have allowed veterans to transfer their tuition grants to spouses or children.
House Bill 3382 – suspends a retirement annuity or pension under the state system if that person is employed under another Illinois system covered by the pension code. This bill has been tabled.
House Bill 3383 – changes the calculations for pension benefits.
House Bill 3427 – changes the calculations for pension benefits.
Members of the NIU Board of Trustees, President Peters and the NIU Alumni Association are in Springfield this week to meet with legislative leaders, the Board of Higher Education and several constitutional officers.
The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Ken Zehnder is director of state and local relations for NIU.