University of Illinois State Relations
The 2014 State Veto Session kicked off on November 19th. Walt Knorr, University of Illinois, Vice President and CFO and Mike Bass, Senior Associate Vice President, testified before the Legislative Audit Commission regarding the University’s FY14 audit findings. Immediately following was a hearing in front of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accounting to approve the construction Certificates of Participation’s refinancing. The legislators at both hearings asked insightful questions, and received the proper answers from University of Illinois senior staff.
Legislatively, not much is expected to happen for the duration of the 2014 Veto Session.
The inaugural meeting of the U of I caucus took place on November 19, 2014 in Springfield at 5:00pm after the first day of veto session. The meeting was hosted by the four chairs of the 2015 U of I Caucus which are: Senator Kotowski, Senator Rose, Representative Sandack, and Representative Zalewski. They were joined by their fellow alumni legislators for a short and productive meeting.
Moving forward, the caucus will meet once a month during session in a closed meeting to discuss University of Illinois issues and priorities, while offering advice on how we can work better on campus, around the state, and in the Capitol. The goal of this Caucus will be to have better representation of the entire University of Illinois in state government, while reminding the alumni legislators or their loyalty to the University of Illinois. We also plan to host open receptions to include alumni working under the Capitol Dome in partnership with Illinois Connections and the Alumni Association.
State Government Welcomes Dr. Killeen
Both Governor Quinn and Governor-Elect Rauner were very excited to hear of the announcement of the 20th President of the University of Illinois, Dr. Killeen. As were all of our local officials and alumni legislators.
Governor Quinn issued a public statement to congratulate Dr. Killeen and the University.
On Friday, November 21st the Sangamon County Court ruled that the changes to the pension law were unconstitutional. Judge Belz issued the rule and struck down the law, and sided with employee and retiree organizations that argued that the law, passed Dec. 3, 2013, violates the state’s constitutional clause that pension benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired.”
At issue is whether lawmakers defied the Illinois Constitution by passing a law that reduces state workers', public school teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits. Lawyers for the state say the Illinois Constitution considers membership in a pension system to be contractual relationship. And contracts can be modified when there's an emergency. But attorneys representing unions and retirees say Illinois' Constitution is unambiguous when it says pension benefits "shall not be diminished or impaired."
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education will host their next meeting on December 2nd at UIS. Prior to the meeting the Presidents/Chancellors and legislative liaisons of all of the IL public universities will be meeting to discuss legislative priorities for the 2015 legislative session.
IBHE is also putting together a Higher Education Caucus with representative of public universities, private universities, and community colleges, in which The University of Illinois will be participating. They are planning to host a reception for this new caucus, the evening of December 2nd.