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October 1, 2007

University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign Senate

HE.07.15 Report on the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council Meeting, June 22, 2007.

The FAC met at DePaul University. Guests for the morning session were Douglas Whitley, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and Senator Ed Maloney, Chair of the Senate Higher Ed Committee.

Whitley said the Chamber is primarily a public policy group because they recognize what happens in Springfield affects their bottom line.  Issues they focus on include: 1.state and local taxation; 2.environmental; 3.infrastructure needs, particularly transportation: roads, rail, airports, and bridges; and 4.economic development.  Very concerned about capital needs after no state capital bill for 6 years.  Focus on economic development largely with NIU and U of I.

The Chamber has a PAC and gives money and endorses candidates.  The governor is a “disaster” and has shorted higher education.  The political leaders are living in the past.  Illinois was in much better shape in the 1970’s than it is today.  Illinois has not recovered to the level of 2000 unlike most other states.  Our population growth is largely due to Latinos.  Chicago is still a major attraction for people in terms of jobs and culture.

The big issues confronting the state have not changed and are not being addressed:

  1. Health care—may continue to force education to take a back seat.
  2. Investment in infrastructure—only government can do certain things.
  3. Jobs.  We need to look ahead 20 years. Research and development are the key to future jobs.  We need an educated workforce to be competitive.

We need a modest tax increase. Whitley feels the only solution to the pension problem is a dedicated revenue stream of .5% tax because the public will never respond to the pension system needs.  Agrees created by past legislatures and governors. Businesses want a stable, predictable tax system.

Senator Maloney said most in his caucus are working hard and voice lots of opinions in representing their diverse constituencies. (A response to a Whitley statement that many legislators were not very active.) He admits to a disconnect: good ideas don’t move to action. There are conflicts among the leadership. Emil Jones wants equalization of funding across districts; governor wants a stress on pre-kindergarten education (long-term payoff); Maloney feels that higher ed gives a more immediate payoff.  There is great disappointment in the governor’s inflexibility.  Maloney said his caucus supports a small increase in the income tax but the governor and Jones oppose that.

Maloney said institutions need to have legislators spend time on the campus, particularly members of education and appropriation committees.

BHE liaison Gary Alexander said they expect an amended resolution to establish a task force to undertake a master-planning effort for higher education to pass.  Even if not funded, the IBHE will undertake such an effort.  There are two separate bills focused on establishing a P-20 effort. The state has lost federal funds because it does not have such a focus. The transfer of the procurement function to BHE from the U of I is still alive.  If it happens, they still will use the U of I system but will be supervising it.  (Not something the BHE sought.) The bill to create another task force on campus violence will not pass. The governor already has one going.  There is a bill to increase MAP limits but there are budget concerns.  There is a resolution for BHE to study dual credit being given for certain courses (credit is given both for high school graduation as well as college credit.)

During the business session a statement on “Higher Education and the Public Good” was adopted.  The group extensively discussed a draft statement on college student mental health.

The next meeting will be in September at NIU and the October meeting at UIUC.

Ken Andersen
UIUC Senate FAC Representative