Rauner appoints Britton to the SIU Board of Trustees

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Rauner appoints Britton to the SIU Board of Trustees


Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed a retired Southern Illinois University (SIU) Vice Chancellor to SIU’s Board of Trustees.(Source: KFVS)
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed a retired Southern Illinois University (SIU) Vice Chancellor to SIU’s Board of Trustees.(Source: KFVS)



CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) -

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed a retired Southern Illinois University (SIU) Vice Chancellor to SIU’s Board of Trustees. 

Tom Britton was named to his first Vice Chancellor/Vice President post and spent 17 years in the University’s central administration.

“Tom has dedicated his life to public higher education and Southern Illinois University,” Rauner said. “His connection to university staff, students and alumni, along with his proven track record in the advancement of higher education, make him uniquely qualified for this important position.”

Rauner’s nomination was officially filed with the Secretary of State on April 9 and is expected to go before the Senate for approval this spring.

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April 9, 2018 at 05:57PM

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Rauner appoints Britton to the SIU Board of Trustees

Co-chair of Illinois Green Party discusses benefits of free higher education

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Olivia Swenson-Hultz, Associate News Editor

Rich Whitney, the co-chair of the Illinois Green Party discussed how free public education could be obtained and how it would positively impact society at the Charleston Carnegie Public Library on Wednesday evening.

Whitney said free higher education would help the United States move toward becoming an egalitarian society and would help reduce differences between people of different skin colors and ethnicities.

“When you have a better educated society, people are able to rise out of the circumstances they’re born into,” Whitney said. “Free education isn’t a perfect solution but it will benefit people economically.”

Whitney said some argue someone else would have to pay for students’ free education.

However, this would not necessarily mean an increase in taxes, he said.

Currently, Americans hold $1.31 trillion of student loan debt, according to a report by The Federal Reserve Bank of New York,and about 70 percent of college seniors hold at least some debt.

Whitney said the United States is falling behind when compared to other countries in public education.

The U.S ranks fourteenth in the world in terms of 25 or 30 year olds with some form of higher education, Whitney said.

Nordic countries such as Germany, Norway and Denmark have successfully adopted free public education in addition to other countries such as Chile and Argentina, Whitney said.

States such as California provided tuition-free education into the ‘60s, but tuition has skyrocketed since Reagan’s administration imposed reinstating tuition costs, with the University of California’s tuition going from $647 in 1947 to $ 10 thousand dollars in 2010 for state residents.

Whitney said the regular military budget is $ 700 million dollars a year and free public education would cost approximately $ 100 million, so cutting the federal budget by one-seventh would be one tactic to achieve free higher education.

Another tactic Whitney suggested was implementing the Green Party-supported La Salle Street tax, which involves taxing financial assets.

Emma Pikula, a junior history major, said she thinks obtaining funds for higher education through tactics such as the La Salle tax is interesting.

“I think that people need to pay their fair share to fund higher education and that we need to avert funds from where we spend too much money,” she said.

Additionally, Whitney said instead of the government borrowing money from the federal reserve system, it could issue the money directly into the economy.

“Higher education is supposed to improve social mobility, but if we stay on the track we’re to become a kind of gilded aged society where only the very wealthy can afford it,” Whitney said.

Juan Nevarez, a graduate student in political science said he thought Whitney shared some insightful perspectives.

He added that when considering how to fix the state of Illinois, a lot of different ideas need to be put onto the table.

“I believe that tactics need to be a little more incremental, but I support free education in the long run,” Nevarez said.

Olivia Swenson-Hultz can be reached at 581-2812 or omswensonhultz@eiu.edu

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April 5, 2018 at 12:34AM

Co-chair of Illinois Green Party discusses benefits of free higher education

Richland officials considering 3 percent tuition increase

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DECATUR — Richland Community College officials are considering a 3 percent tuition hike, but will likely wait to see how fall enrollment shapes up before making a final decision.

A proposal to raise tuition from $133 per credit hour to $137 per credit hour for most students was tabled by the college’s board of trustees this week. With two board members gone, and the possibility of increasing costs for students, board Trustee Dale Colee said Thursday it was only fair to hold off on any decision until its April 17 meeting.

“We can only get our money from property taxes, tuition and the state,” Colee said. “So it’s throwing more burden on those who can least afford it, the students.”

School officials said during Tuesday’s meeting that it is possible that no tuition increase will be approved for the coming summer and fall semesters. If fall enrollment numbers are not up to par, Colee said tuition could be increased for the 2019 spring semester. There are no plans to change the college’s current standard fee of $14 per credit hour.

Richland President Cris Valdez could not be reached for comment.

The consideration of another increase comes a year after Richland’s board approved a 3 percent tuition hike for the current school year. Currently, the typical Richland student pays $147 per credit hour in tuition and fees. Those in health profession and online classes pay $172 per credit hour and $180 per credit hour, respectively.

Scout Duncan-Savage, a 20-year-old Richland sophomore, on Thursday said she already applied for the number of scholarships available to students, which would cover the additional cost. Her younger brother, who is considering attending, is following a similar path.

“He will probably attend anyway (despite the tuition increase),” Duncan-Savage said. “Especially if he applies for the scholarships.”

Richland is undergoing a multiyear process to get its financial situation in order. School officials estimated last year they would see a total loss of $2.6 million in revenue because of declining enrollment and loss of state funds that used to account for about 13 percent of the college’s budget.

The approval of a state budget in July provided the college some relief, allowing it to pay down debt and lessen borrowing needs. Valdez said at the time that the college still needed to reorganize to get its expenses in line with expected revenue, especially since the school is once again projecting receiving no funds from the state this year due to uncertainty state lawmakers will approve a budget.

As part of that realignment, the college cut five administrative positions, laid off 18 employees and offered buyouts to an additional 14 full-time staff members.

Other community colleges in the area are taking their own approaches to tuition for the coming school year.

Normal’s Heartland Community College’s board approved a $5 per credit hour tuition increase starting this summer, bringing its overall tuition and fees from $148 to $153 per credit hour, a 3.6 percent increase. Parkland College in Champaign will keep its tuition level for the first time in 26 years.

Richland’s tuition cost of $147 is lower than Heartland’s $153 per credit hour and Parkland’s $184.50 per credit hour. It is higher than Lake Land Community College in Mattoon at $137 per credit hour and Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield at $140.50 per credit hour.

Bernard Benz, a 28-year-old sophomore, said he doesn’t think the tuition increase will make much of a difference, though he added that may change if its a continuous thing.

“Of course 3 percent times however many more come here is a good chunk of change,” he said.






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March 22, 2018 at 11:09PM

Richland officials considering 3 percent tuition increase

A Rockford utility tax would spare no one

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Businesses and residents may face a natural gas and electricity tax if a home rule effort fails


ROCKFORD — A utility tax that Rockford is poised to enact if an effort to restore home rule authority fails would cost Rockford University an estimated $34,000 a year.

That’s roughly equivalent to losing tuition revenue from two students or to the salary of an employee, university President Eric Fulcomer said. The university, with nearly 1,300 students, has spent $17 million in the last six years on campus improvements and “probably needs to invest that much more in the next five years,” Fulcomer said.

“Nobody wants a utility tax. It hits everybody — nonprofits, for-profit businesses and residents,” Fulcomer said. “We operate on a tight margin, so $34,000 is significant.”

Employers across Rockford have similar stories. But city leaders say a utility tax is likely if voters on Tuesday reject a proposal to restore home rule authority. And no Rockford resident or business would be spared.

Restoring Rockford’s home rule authority would give the city greater authority to solve its own problems, regulate businesses and properties, and impose taxes and fees without state legislation. Mayor Tom McNamara’s administration has proposed using home rule to enact a tax on hotel stays — to raise revenue from visitors instead of residents — if the home question is approved in Tuesday’s referendum.

Without home rule, the city would pursue a utility tax but still be unable to keep property taxes from rising without drastic cuts to public works and police and fire protection. The reason? Rockford faces a $78 million budget shortfall over the next five years and pension expenses, which the city is required to pay, are outpacing city revenues.

The city can adopt a utility tax without home rule authority. For years, though, Rockford aldermen have been loath to adopt such a tax because it would hit hardest small businesses and individuals with the lowest incomes.

The cost

“Failure to restore home rule will both perpetuate our dependence upon Springfield’s state government as well as a very likely 5 percent utility tax both for individuals and businesses,” SwedishAmerican CEO Dr. Michael Born said last week in a written statement to employees of the health system.

The impact of a utility tax on SwedishAmerican, a unit of UW Health, would be close to $200,000 a year, Born said.

More than 60 percent of Illinois’ municipal population is already subject to a utility tax, and many of Rockford’s neighbors charge one, including Loves Park, Machesney Park, Pecatonica, Winnebago, Belvidere, Poplar Grove and Capron.

If Rockford joins that group, it would charge the maximum allowed under state law: a 5 percent tax on natural gas bills and a per-kilowatt charge on electricity that declines as electrical consumption goes up. 

City administrators said in December 2016 — when a utility tax was considered and never adopted — that the tax would cost the typical ComEd residential customer in Rockford $6.28 a month; the typical residential and small-business gas customer would pay $3.06 a month. Commercial ComEd customers could pay anywhere from $12.56 a month for a small business to about $3,590 a month for the largest users.

Electric bills amount to $250,000 a year at Specialty Screw, which manufactures precision parts for the auto industry at its 80,000-square-foot factory on Huffman Boulevard.

The company has expanded its customer base and “is bursting at the seams,” President Russ Johansson said. A 20,000-square-foot expansion to its northwest Rockford plant is on the drawing board, and the prospect of “any kind of tax or fee doesn’t thrill me,” Johansson said.

“We’ve got to get pension reform,” Johansson said. “We’ve got to get a handle on that cost. It’s the biggest issue that I see not only for Rockford, but for the whole state.”

Short-term solution

Specialty Screw has invested more than $100,000 in recent years on photovoltaic panels and energy-efficient lights and air compressors to minimize its utility costs. And that’s the problem with a utility tax, city administrators say: With each passing year, residents and businesses are becoming more energy efficient.

If enacted as soon as possible this year, a utility tax would pour $3.5 million into city coffers for the remainder of 2018 and $9 million annually afterward. But before long, said Rockford Finance Director Carrie Eklund, a utility tax would provide Rockford diminishing returns.

“I would certainly say there is concern,” Eklund said. “The revenue source is shrinking, not growing. I assume it will bottom out at some point, but it will be a short-term solution to our budget problems.”

Isaac Guerrero: 815-987-1361; iguerrero@rrstar.com; @isaac_rrs

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March 15, 2018 at 11:10AM

A Rockford utility tax would spare no one

Education Under The Tax Bill, For-Profit Colleges And More Women In Med School

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Before you head out to celebrate the holidays and welcome the new year, here is our last weekly roundup of 2017. Education under the new tax bill Graduate students can breathe easier after learning that tuition waivers will remain tax-free, according to the final version of the House-Senate tax bill that passed Thursday. An original provision in the Republican House plan would have taxed graduate students’ tuition waivers as income. It was a controversial proposal and sent a wave of anxiety across campuses, leading to protests at dozens of universities. Teachers also get to keep their $250 tax write-off for spending their own money on classroom supplies, something the earlier House bill aimed to eliminate. For-profit students will get less money back than anticipated This week, the U.S. Department of Education announced action on pending claims from 20,000 former students of the shuttered for-profit Corinthian colleges . The Obama administration had completely forgiven the loans of

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December 23, 2017 at 05:55AM

Education Under The Tax Bill, For-Profit Colleges And More Women In Med School

Education Under The Tax Bill, For-Profit Colleges And More Women In Med School

http://ift.tt/2BFAkoh

Before you head out to celebrate the holidays and welcome the new year, here is our last weekly roundup of 2017. Education under the new tax bill Graduate students can breathe easier after learning that tuition waivers will remain tax-free, according to the final version of the House-Senate tax bill that passed Thursday. An original provision in the Republican House plan would have taxed graduate students’ tuition waivers as income. It was a controversial proposal and sent a wave of anxiety across campuses, leading to protests at dozens of universities. Teachers also get to keep their $250 tax write-off for spending their own money on classroom supplies, something the earlier House bill aimed to eliminate. For-profit students will get less money back than anticipated This week, the U.S. Department of Education announced action on pending claims from 20,000 former students of the shuttered for-profit Corinthian colleges . The Obama administration had completely forgiven the loans of

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December 23, 2017 at 05:55AM

Education Under The Tax Bill, For-Profit Colleges And More Women In Med School

Elmhurst College administration hears from clergy, adjunct faculty on union organizing issue

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ELMHURST – A delegation of United Church of Christ clergy delivered a letter Dec. 5 to Elmhurst College President Troy VanAken’s office.

The letter had been signed by 104 pastors from around the United States who support non-tenured faculty’s ability to organize a union, which event organizers say the administration has been fighting, despite its connection with the United Church of Christ.

In the letter, clergy members expressed their "deep disappointment that Elmhurst College is seeking to use its affiliation with the Church to claim exemption from the oversight of the National Labor Relations Board in the efforts of its adjunct faculty to organize" and asked the administration to "find in the Church a partner for sharing in the struggle for justice and peace."

"We work continually with all of our employees to maintain a strong working environment for them so that we can offer the best learning environment for our students," college spokeswoman Desiree Chen said in a statement Dec. 6.

Twelve people had gathered at 2 p.m. Dec. 5 at the campus’s Frick Center in support of non-tenured faculty, including Elmhurst College alumna Shelly Ruzicka, communications and development director for Arise Chicago, a workers’ rights group.

"It’s pretty disappointing for my alma mater to do things that are not in line with the teachings that I learned here," Ruzicka said in an interview before the event.

She added those teachings included "honoring all humanity," "dignity on the job" and "learning about the world around me."

Matilda Stubbs, an adjunct professor of sociology, and David McCurdy, an adjunct professor of religious studies and United Church of Christ clergyman, discussed their concerns about low pay for adjuncts and lack of office space.

"It’s hypocritical…for the school to claim or use as a shield religious exemption claiming affiliation with a denomination that supports, clearly and for a long time, organizing," said the Rev. John Thomas, board member of Arise Chicago and former president of the United Church of Christ.

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December 14, 2017 at 10:01AM

Elmhurst College administration hears from clergy, adjunct faculty on union organizing issue