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February 19, 2007

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.07.07 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting January 19, 2007.

The FAC met at Northeastern Illinois University.  President Salme Steinberg welcomed the FAC and noted she was completing twelve years of service in that position and about to leave it.  She noted NIU has the greatest diversity in the student body of any Midwest university. There are no dorms, it is totally a commuter campus.  It had three colleges:  arts and sciences, business and management, and education.  Many are first generation students, often parents or supporting their parents and attending on a part-time basis while working full or part-time.  She said one of her major concerns was getting legislators to understand that not all students can complete their undergraduate degree in 4 years.  The traditional old model of a student completing in four years is no longer valid given the new reality of far more and different students attending college.

No information was provided on the proposed education budget by the FAC liaison from IBHE.  The BHE is not going to talk in terms of a percentage increase.  The focus is on institutional commitments via performance contracts to improve diversity, access and graduation rates. 

The remainder of the morning was spend on a presentation by Max McGee and David Bonnette on ideas for revamping the tax structure in Illinois to meet urgent education needs K-20 coupled with accountability measures that are being discussed by an informal group called the “Saturday Morning Dialogue Group.” They believe that six billion new dollars must be found for the state to meet educational needs, meet the recurring pension obligations and offer some relief on property tax.  They supported the concept of replacing corporate taxes with a  gross receipts tax that has been used recently in Delaware, Washington, Ohio, and Hawaii. (This is not an income tax increase—a politically attractive feature.)  They noted that HB/SB 750 declared dead in the last session has some new life as it will be coupled with accountability features.  Also, the work of the Civic Committee calling for a tax increase (1%) have also given new life to possible legislative tax changes. Illinois has a particularly regressive tax system.

The afternoon featured an extensive discussion with Dean Maureen Gillette of the NEIU College of Education on factors that affect time to degree.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative