Students rally against tax bill’s impact on education

NORMAL — More than 150 people gathered on the Illinois State University quad at noon Wednesday to protest tax reform legislation pending in Congress, particularly its impact on education.

Most of them then walked to uptown Normal for a second rally.

Ben King, an ISU grad student in applied economics, said, “It would more than double what I pay in taxes.”

That is not an exaggeration.

Amy Hurd, director of ISU’s graduate school, said university officials have “run the numbers” and found taxes for graduate students would go up 100 percent if the House provision makes its way into the final version of the bill.

Hurd said the average graduate assistant makes about $1,000 a month on a nine-month contract. But the House provision would tax them on “$17,500 that they never get to see on a paycheck,” said Hurd.

King said, “I’m going to do what I can to stay in school,” but added it would be difficult.

Rachael DiSciullo, a graduate student in biology from West Chester, Pa., said the tax changes would “make grad school an elitist endeavor.”

ISU senior Michelle Hunt of Bloomington, who returned to school for a bachelor’s degree after a stint in the Navy, said she hopes to go to graduate school and that she and her husband worked and planned so they would not have to go deeply in debt.

“With this looming grad tax on tuition waivers, all those plans are about to go up in smoke,” said Hunt, who spoke at the second half of the rally in uptown Normal.

More than half of those attending the campus rally walked to the office of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in uptown Normal, chanting “Kill the bill” and “No grad tax.”

Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, voted for the bill but opposes the provision regarding taxation of tuition waivers and hopes to see it eliminated when the House and Senate bills are reconciled.

Marchers found the congressman’s office was closed and continued the rally on Uptown Circle with several more speakers.

Other elements of the tax bill that critics have attacked are ones that would tax employees who receive employer-funded tuition assistance and end deductions for student loan interest, state and local taxes and for teachers who buy supplies for their classrooms.

“This government is going to ruin education,” said Jenna Campbell, a graduate student in social work from Bloomington.

Julie Webber, a professor of politics and government, said the bill would “probably wipe out many graduate programs at major research universities.”

Many at the rally also criticized the tax plan as a whole, saying it helps corporations and higher-income individuals at the expense of middle- and lower-income families and the most vulnerable.

King said it’s a bad bill that would increase the deficit with no evidence that the corporate tax cut would spur growth.

Several speakers reminded those in attendance that there is still time to prevent the tax bill from becoming law and urged them to contact their representatives and congressional leaders. They also urged protesters to stay involved and be sure to vote.

Although tax measures passed in both the House and Senate, differences in the bills must be ironed out in a conference committee before it can be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

“I am here because there is still hope,” said Samantha Case of Normal, who recently received her master’s degree in social work. “We need to remind our legislators what we the people stand for.”

Arlene Hosea, a Normal Township board member and retired ISU Dining Services director, said: “We need to stick together. It’s not about what’s good for me; it’s what’s good for us.”

Students rally against tax bill’s impact on education

Tax bill to affect higher education

DeKALB — Anna Quider, NIU Government Relations director, spoke to Faculty Senate Wednesday about pressing issues in Washington D.C. that have an effect on higher education.

Quider, who spoke via Skype from the nation’s capital, talked about a likely vote on a tax bill in the U.S. Senate and its differences from a previously passed bill by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“They have a number of things that are in common, but for higher education, there have some pretty stark differences,” Quider said.

Quider talked about how the Senate Bill H.R. 1, which she said could be on the floor as early as Friday, would affect operational costs at the university and lower incentives for charitable donations.

“Both bills would double the standard deduction,” Quider said. “When you double the standard deduction, it will significantly reduce the number of people who are incentivised to give a charitable donation to a non-profit because they will have that tax exemption.”

Quider said another provision both the House and Senate bills share is a change to athletics.

“Currently in athletics, there is a special rule that allows for 80 percent of the cost of the right to rent a season ticket to be a charitable deduction to the university,” Quider said. “That would be eliminated in both bills.”

If both bills are passed, members of Congress will have to determine which legislation to send to President Donald Trump.

Quider also talked about how the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program may be affecting federal fiscal budget talks. She said Democrats would be willing to force a government shutdown if the program is not upheld. President Trump ordered the end of the program Sept. 5 and called on Congress to come up with a replacement for the program.

“Some Democrats are pushing that in order to get their vote for this year-end spending package, they would have to include a fix for DACA,” Quider said. “A number of Democrats have said that they are willing to go to the bat and force a government shutdown over this.”

Acting President Lisa Freeman voiced NIU’s support for its DACA students earlier this semester in an email.

“To our undocumented students: You belong at NIU,” Freeman said in the Sept. 5 email. “We want you here, and we are prepared to help you navigate how to continue on your educational journey.”

Presidential search

Three members of the Faculty Senate were nominated to represent the shared governance group on the Presidential Search Planning Committee that will set up the search for a permanent president of the university following former President Doug Baker’s resignation.

Kendall Thu, chairman of the Department of Anthropology, Katy Jaekel, higher education assistant professor, and George Slotsve, economics associate professor, were the three nominated by senators to serve on the committee.

The search for a new president is set to take place next fall.

Tax bill to affect higher education

Illinois House of Representatives recognizes JWCC Ag Center Illinois House of Representatives recognized the John Wood Community College Agriculture Center along with the University of Illinois and the Orr Research Farm on 40 years. John Wood Community College has a partnership with the U of I and the Orr …

Illinois House of Representatives recognizes JWCC Ag Center

UPDATED: Killeen on tap for second $100,000 performance bonus

URBANA — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen is slated for a second performance bonus of $100,000 for meeting goals outlined by UI trustees.

Killeen earns $600,000 annually, with the possibility of up to $100,000 in annual performance incentives based on predetermined goals set by the board. He received the full $100,000 in September 2016 after his first year in office.

The agenda for Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago includes a “pay-for-performance” compensation item authorizing $100,000 for Killeen this year, to be paid within 90 days.

In past years trustees haven’t released the amount until after meeting in closed session the day of the board meeting.

The board decided several years ago to tie a portion of the president’s total pay to performance based on mutually agreed-upon goals. Former UI President Robert Easter received three, ranging from $90,000 to $180,000.

Killeen’s initial contract also included a $225,000 retention bonus if he remained president for five years, but that provision was dropped at Killeen’s request in 2015 following the public flap over former Chancellor Phyllis’ Wise potential $400,000 retention bonus. Killeen said that he didn’t need a bonus to stay at Illinois and that retention incentives reward longevity, not performance.

Killeen completed his second full year as president in May.

In the past year he navigated an ongoing state budget crisis that cost the university hundreds of millions of dollars, hired Robert Jones as chancellor of the Urbana campus, reorganized and filled two vice presidents’ positions, forged new partnerships in Chicago and abroad, and helped launch a campaign to raise $3.1 billion for the UI’s three campuses.

He also saw two now-former UI employees implicated in a state patronage scheme dating back to their days as aides to former Gov. Pat Quinn.

In a written evaluation released Friday, trustees gave Killeen high marks for hiring “excellent leaders” and for being a “relentless advocate” for the UI system at the state and national levels.

They cited his collaborative efforts with other Illinois universities and community colleges; his strong advocacy for state and federal funding; and his commitment to keep tuition flat while increasing enrollment for Illinois undergraduates.

Killeen’s plan for a five-year funding commitment from the state tied to specific performance benchmarks by the UI — dubbed IPAC, or the “Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment” — was judged to be “creative and innovative” and of benefit to higher education throughout the state.

Trustees also said Killeen made “admirable progress” on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students and faculty and increased opportunity for minority vendors. But they cautioned that progress is needed in terms of campus climate and diversity, a “top priority.”

Killeen also earned praise for outreach efforts, including a new CEO group to help promote the UI’s “brand” and mutually beneficial projects, and a new UI Health Advisory Board.

Thursday’s agenda also includes $75,000 in pay-for-performance compensation for UI Chicago Chancellor Michael Amiridis, along with a provision to incorporate the pay into his base salary. He would thereafter not be eligible for further performance bonuses.

Amiridis received a $75,000 performance bonus last year, and his current salary is $400,000 annually.

UI officials say “pay-for-performance” is a common practice in the corporate world and increasingly with university leaders. Trustees have said the extra pay is not a bonus but is earned.

UI employees received raises averaging 1 percent for this academic year, following a 2 percent mid-year raise last winter, but those did not apply to Killeen.

UPDATED: Killeen on tap for second $100,000 performance bonus

Higher education specialization, pension make future uncertain

Higher education specialization, pension make future uncertain



Richard Wandling, chair of the political science department, talked about Eastern’s future with hope. “We’ve had some bumps and bruises over the past two years, … but I’m optomistic,” Wandling said.

Richard Wandling, chair of the political science department, talked about Eastern’s future with hope. “We’ve had some bumps and bruises over the past two years, … but I’m optomistic,” Wandling said.

Richard Wandling, chair of the political science department, talked about Eastern’s future with hope. “We’ve had some bumps and bruises over the past two years, … but I’m optomistic,” Wandling said.

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter
November 1, 2017
Filed under News, Online

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Illinois’ lack of funding, specifically for higher education and pensions, was dissected in Wednesday’s “Higher Education, Pensions and Politics” panel.

One audience member said in the past, higher education was seen as a social good, while now the perception has changed to define it as a personal good, which might be why funding has been lowered in the past couple of years.

With higher education being seen as a public good, it leads the state and federal governments to underfund programs, which raises tuition and makes a college degree harder to achieve.

The possibility of consolidating universities to avoid redundancy or to increase specialization was also discussed.

With campuses being limited to specific majors, diversity in interests would begin to disappear at universities.

Richard Wandling, chair for the political science department and one of the two panelists, said this specialization would make it harder for students to change their major and limit exploration.

Although the panel agreed that things are not very hopeful right now, Wandling said Eastern should stay positive about it’s future.

“I’m optimistic,” Wandling said. “If we have some stability in our budget, we will find our way. There’s always a need for institutions like EIU, because we serve many first generation students, we provide a lot more access to faculty, to retention, to student welfare and so I think if anything needs to happen is that faculty, students, staff, community members can be vigilant and taking that message to legislators.”

Madeleine Doubek, director of policy and civic engagement for the Better Government Association and another panelist, said she thought local government was apathetic towards the effects of the past two years on higher education.

“I don’t think that (Governor Bruce Rauner) lost a lot of sleep over what happened during the two year impasse,” Doubek said.

Madeleine Doubek, director of policy and civic engagement for the Better Government Association, was one of the two panelists at Wednesday’s discussion. She said that people need to listen, pay attention, and play an active role in their government.


The panel also discussed the growing concerns with underfunded pensions and the improbability of improvement in the near future.

According to USA Today’s article Illinois pension problem: Illinois’ pension plan is between $130-250 billion dollars under funded. 

This level of under-funding could cause problems for future generations, as there might not be any money left for pensions by the time Eastern students, and younger generations, need to use it.

One reason improvement is difficult is Illinois citizens believe they are being taxed enough, Doubek said.

“Take what just happened with the sales tax revolution and repeal in Cook County and I certainly think there’s a sentiment out there that we’re taxed enough in Illinois,” she said. “I think it would be very difficult to increase a tax to contribute more towards pensions.”

Doubek said Illinois’ problems with funding pensions and higher education is part of a bigger problem nationwide.

“In my view, Illinois is a microcosm of what is happening at the federal level,” she said. “In other words, nothing is happening at the federal level and I don’t see that changing.”

The main way to stand up for pensions, higher education or other matters that are important to you is to pay attention and speak up, Doubek said.

“We need to be very vigilant and pay attention to what’s happening … all the time,” she said.


Brooke Schwartz can be reached at

581-2812 or

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Higher education specialization, pension make future uncertain

State Budget Forum to be hosted at SIU Carbondale

(Source: KFVS)(Source: KFVS)

Several organizations are coming together to host a State Budget Forum on Thursday Oct. 26.

WSIU Public Radio, has partnered with NPR Illinois/WUIS Springfield and AARP Illinois to host the forum from 6-7:30 p.m.

The event will take place at the SIU Carbondale Student Center, Ballroom B, located at 1255 Lincoln Drive in Carbondale. Refreshments will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The forum will take a look at the two-year long state budget impasse, its impact on the Southern Illinois community and the financial future of Illinois. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of experts, share how they have been impacted, or to simply listen and learn.

News Editor and Operations Manager for NPR Illinois, Sean Crawford, will serve as moderator.

Here are a list of the panel guests:

  • Brent Clark, Director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators
  • Sherrie Crabb, Director of Family Counseling Center, Inc.
  • Marleen Shepherd, Communications Director for the Sparrow Coalition
  • Connie Favreau, Director of Project Development at Shawnee Health Service
  • Jak Tichenor, Interim Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIUC

This event is free and open to the public. Guest are encouraged to register online at Questions about the event should be directed to the WSIU Radio newsroom at (618) 453-6101.

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State Budget Forum to be hosted at SIU Carbondale