Lawmakers reject reforms inspired by Breuder severance

  • State lawmakers rejected legislation inspired by the College of DuPage.

      State lawmakers rejected legislation inspired by the College of DuPage. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Robert Breuder

    Robert Breuder

Updated 6/24/2015 9:30 AM

A plan to limit the length of college presidents' contracts and cap severance deals like the one given to College of DuPage President Robert Breuder was rejected by state lawmakers Tuesday.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, had presented the proposal as one that could prevent misspending by community colleges statewide and using DuPage as an example.


But in the end, lawmakers' concerns about tying the hands of other community colleges competing to attract and keep top administrators killed the effort, at least for now.

"I caution us not to water down the tools that we need to keep those kinds of people in our community," state Rep. Chad Hays, a Republican from downstate Catlin, said.

The proposal would have limited severance packages for community college employees to one year of salary and benefits and limit the length of contracts to four years with no automatic renewals.

Supporters argued the state wouldn't have been taking away local trustees' powers because a president's contract could always be renewed. And Ives said severance packages have been an issue for different levels of government, too.

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"They've been a problem at the university system," she said. "They've been a problem at Metra."

The Illinois House rejected the plan Tuesday, leaving it 20 votes short of approval.

Similar legislation was approved by the Illinois House two months ago, and the Senate approved it in May.

But the House had to vote again to send the plan to Rauner. And even though it was approved unanimously the first time, it came far short Tuesday.

The debate got heated at times.

"For me, what it implies is that there's just way too much money in DuPage County," state Rep. Will Davis, a Homewood Democrat, said.

"Maybe we need to consider ways in which they can share their wealth with other poorer parts of the state, you know, to help other community colleges that don't have that kind of resource available," Davis said.

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