Legislative update: Illinois Fall Veto Session looms week of Oct. 25, D.C. grapples with budget

Lori Clark
Lori Clark

In Springfield …

Fall Veto Session begins Tuesday, Oct. 25, and we are seeing public statements by various elected officials on items they hope will be addressed during the six days of this session.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who used his amendatory veto on House Bill 1353, is hoping that the General Assembly will not override his veto and will allow the end of the controversial General Assembly Scholarship program. Rep. Fred Crespo has introduced House Bill 3810 that would eliminate General Assembly Scholarships beginning June 1, 2012.

Quinn also issued an amendatory veto of House Bill 1079. This bill increases from $500 to $1,000 the threshold for inventory listing of equipment at public universities to be reported to the Department of Central Management Services.

This bill also requires each university to report on any tuition increases for the upcoming academic year and any cost-saving measures undertaken during the previous year. It further requires the Illinois Board of Higher Education to report annually to the General Assembly on tuition increases and cost-saving measuring, new programs created, existing programs that have been closed or consolidated and programs that exhibit low performance or productivity.

Senate Bill 1883, signed into law by the governor (Public Act 97-0610), requires new reporting by public universities. Each public university is now required to report annually to IBHE on programs of instruction, research or public service that have been terminated, dissolved, reduced or consolidated by the university.

It also requires each state university to report to IBHE all programs of instruction, research and public service that exhibit a trend of low performance in enrollments, degree completions and high expense per degree. It limits IBHE review and approval of non-instructional capital projects at public universities to those in excess of $2 million.

The House Working Groups looking at various issues related to pension reform continue to meet. It is not yet clear whether the issue of pension reform, in whole or in part, will be addressed during the veto session. The Civic Federation is pushing to have this issue addressed as soon as possible.

The IBHE Performance Funding Steering Committee continues to meet, with the next meeting scheduled Monday, Oct. 24, at SIU in Carbondale. If you have not yet looked at it, you should check out NIU’s new performance funding website for the latest information.

In Washington, D.C. …

President Obama signed the stop-gap spending bill Oct. 5, assuring uninterrupted government operations until at least Friday, Nov. 18.

It is most likely that there will be an omnibus budget bill, instead of the 12 appropriations bills. The partisan politics that have taken hold of Washington make it unlikely that individual appropriations bills can be passed.

Everyone is keeping their eye on the work of the Deficit Reduction Super Committee, which has been operating behind closed doors, awaiting word on whether the members will be able to identify at least $1.2 trillion in cost savings or whether mandatory spending cuts will occur in November.

In a measure of how disgruntled the public is becoming with Washington, a new poll released last week by the Washington Post-ABC News found that only 14 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. That percentage is lower than just before the 1994, 2006 and 2010 elections, when the majority party was on the verge of losing power in the House.

Sixty-two percent of Americans “strongly disapprove” of the job Congress is doing, and 20 percent “somewhat disapprove.” Only 3 percent “strongly approve” of the job Congress is doing – the lowest possible level given the poll’s margin of error of four percentage points.

The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Lori Clark is director of State and Federal Relations for NIU.

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