Breuder, College of DuPage deal keeps attracting heat from lawmakers

The severance package given to College of DuPage President Robert Breuder will continue to drive lawmakers' efforts to target college administrator pay and benefits as a new round of proposals was laid out Wednesday.

Senate Democrats outlined a new set of plans inspired in part by Breuder's $763,000 deal, including making mandatory regular state audits of community colleges. Republicans earlier this year pushed for, and won, a state audit of College of DuPage paid for by the college.

Democrats' new proposals would require the state's top auditor to perform similar probes every three years, according to state Sen. Bill Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat leading a committee on the matter.

Among other ideas Cunningham outlined: Cap severance deals that can be given to state university administrators. Lawmakers have already sent Gov. Bruce Rauner legislation that limits future severance packages at community colleges.

Other ideas would disallow lame-duck college boards from extending administrators' contracts and assure fringe benefits like country club memberships aren't used to calculate an administrator's pension.

House Republicans earlier this year led a push focused on the College of DuPage controversy, but Rauner hasn't yet acted on the severance-package limits lawmakers approved, one of the showpiece reforms of the effort. State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, won approval for a sweeping audit of the college, too.

Getting the proposals approved could be difficult, and Cunningham said Democrats will try to start the process in the coming weeks. Past efforts have faced hurdles because college officials and some lawmakers argue schools statewide shouldn't have their options restricted because of the controversial actions of a few. That concern nearly derailed the push to limit severance deals this year.

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