Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Feb. 19, 2015

By Mike Riopell

More Breuder plans

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, has added another idea to the growing list of proposals sparked by the $763,000 severance package given to College of DuPage President Robert Breuder.

Her legislation would cap severance packages at 30 percent of a college president's annual salary.

"Families are struggling with the ever-rising price of higher education," Bush said in a statement. "To award nearly $1 million to an official just to quit is more than tone-deaf.

Read the original column here.

Category: In The News

Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Feb. 18, 2015

By Mike Riopell

Gov. Bruce Rauner today is asking suburbs to give up about half of the money they get each year from state income taxes.

The proposal comes as part of his sweeping ideas for budget cuts across state government intended to rescue the state's troubled finances, but mayors might not love what the move means for their budgets.

Rauner supported the state income tax reduction at the beginning of the year, but asking for the mayors' share would boost how much the state gets at the expense of local governments.

"Saying no is not popular," Rauner said.

The new governor touts the budget as one that doesn't rely on new taxes and says the amount the state has sent to communities over the years has continued to grow despite the state's troubles.

Mayors saw the proposal coming, and have already crunched some of the numbers. For Schaumburg, that'd be a cut of about $3.5 million in the next year.

Because of the give-and-take likely to occur with the legislature, however, Schaumburg Village President Al Larson considered it too early to start forming a plan as if Rauner's proposal was the final word.

"We have yet to sit down and discuss what our options are, but we have to wait until we find out what the final numbers are before we make any premature comment," Larson said.

Rauner, a Winnetka Republican, also has called for a freeze on property taxes, and Democrats said it was a contradiction that the governor would try to take money away and ask them to take in less local money at the same time.

"To me, it's a logical step to think that if we're taking their money ... that their option will be to increase property taxes," state Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, said.

Republicans, though, said there would need to be pain everywhere to solve the state's deep financial problems.

"It's going to be tough medicine for a lot of groups, but it's a realistic budget," state Rep. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican, said. "We actually balance the budget rather than using gimmicks."

Communities now share a pool of 8 percent of Illinois income taxes, and Rauner wants them to take 4 percent in the budget starting July 1.

Other towns that get less would lose less.

Rauner's plan will need lawmakers' approval to go forward.

His proposal is a more severe version of what's been proposed by former Gov. Pat Quinn in past years, so mayors have fought this battle before. They'd won so far, tapping into the political strength of local government at the Capitol, which is inhabited by lawmakers who have close ties to local officials. Many are former mayors or former members of various local boards.

View the original story.

Category: In The News

SPRINGFIELD — Feb. 17, 2015. State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is sponsoring legislation that will put hard limits on how much public colleges and universities in Illinois can pay to buy out top administrators.
 
The bill is meant to respond to a controversial $750,000 severance package College of DuPage awarded to President Robert Breuder. The award has drawn fire from constituents, lawmakers and the editorial boards of local newspapers.
 
“The frustration my constituents have shown in the wake of College of DuPage’s decision was a call to action for my office, and it should be a wake-up call to our public institutions,” Bush said. “This legislation will bring an end to a form of excess taxpayers can ill afford.”
 
The new legislation caps severance packages at 30 percent of an official’s annual compensation and mandates that a university or college officials’ pension not include any severance package in the final calculation of their compensation.
 
“Families are struggling with the ever-rising price of higher education,” Bush said. “To award nearly $1 million to an official just to quit is more than tone-deaf. It’s irresponsible.”
 
Senate Bill 1291 will be introduced in the Senate and considered in the newly-formed Senate Subcommittee on Executive Compensation.

Category: Press Releases

Chicago Tribune - Feb. 11, 2015

By Stacy St. Clair and Jodi S. Cohen

An Illinois Senate panel will ask College of DuPage President Robert Breuder to appear before its members and answer questions regarding his controversial severance package from the publicly funded school, lawmakers said Wednesday.

The newly formed subcommittee on executive compensation also wants to speak with some of the college's trustees, most of whom have refused to discuss the $763,000 buyout. The board has referred to the deal as a "retirement" package in news releases, but at least two members now acknowledge they approved the deal in order to prematurely terminate Breuder's contract, which ran until 2019.

"It has sparked outrage in DuPage County and, really, throughout the state," state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, the subcommittee's chairman, said at a news conference. "It has raised a series of questions on how institutions of higher learning compensate their top executives."

Breuder's total compensation this year is about $484,000, according to an agreement that was secretly changed by the trustees over the years. Among other perks, Breuder gets housing and car allowances, $10,000 a year for professional development, pension contributions and a membership at an exclusive hunting club.

College spokesman Joseph Moore said the school is confident the subcommittee's investigation will find that Breuder's compensation is not unusual for an administrator with his experience. But he would not say whether Breuder would appear before the panel voluntarily.

"We are supportive of examining the compensation of senior higher education administrators," Moore said.

The Senate panel plans to investigate the salaries and perks provided to college administrators throughout the state. On Tuesday, Cunningham sent letters to the presidents of the state's nine public universities and 38 community colleges requesting senior leaders' contracts, buyouts and severance agreements from the past 10 years. He also requested all perks given to those employees, including housing expenses, memberships and other compensation.

The institutions are to provide records related to the president, provost, vice presidents, general counsel, athletic director and other top executives, according to letter. The schools were given a deadline of Feb. 17 to respond.

In the wake of the College of DuPage controversy, legislators have filed numerous bills aimed at punishing the school and preventing other taxing bodies from approving similar buyouts. Committee members said there must be a comprehensive look at college and university compensation before any decisions are made on those bills.

The Senate subcommittee plans to hold hearings across the state and intends to finish its work by the end of the spring session, lawmakers said. The subcommittee will post the contracts online as part of its efforts.

View the original story, including video of Senator Bush's comments.

Category: In The News

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