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Illinois House of Representatives votes against bill that would abolish employee tuition waiver

March 30, 2012

Photo of a piggy bank on a stack of textbooksA bill in the Illinois General Assembly that sought to take away the 50 percent tuition discount that Illinois’ public universities currently offer their employees fell well short of the 60 votes it needed to pass a vote of the house.

The bill, HB 5531, sponsored by Rep. Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago), would have amended various acts relating to the governance of state universities, repealing provisions that permit the children of employees of a state university who have been employed by any one or by more than one state university for an aggregate period of at least seven years to receive a 50 percent tuition waiver.

Exemptions included those with family incomes of less than $50,000 and veterans.

This tuition benefit has been used for years by state universities to attract and retain desirable employees from clerks to professors. NIU joined most of the other public universities and many union and annuitant organizations in opposing this bill.

“We had a very solid coalition comprised of representatives of every Illinois public university, SEIU, IEA, IFT, University Professionals of Illinois, AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the Illinois Nurses Association who worked together to defeat this bill that would have repealed the university employees dependent waiver program,” says Lori Clark, NIU director of state and federal relations.

“We made contact, often several times, with each and every member of the Illinois House of Representatives. In the end, the vast majority of the members understood that this was an earned employee benefit and a very important benefit that allows us to attract and retain the very best faculty and staff.”

State Rep. Robert W. Pritchard (R-Sycamore), who represents the 70th District that includes NIU, was among 75 representatives who voted against the measure, which failed 26-75-7.