Bill would immediately end tuition waivers for UI workers' children

SPRINGFIELD — Fifty-percent tuition waivers now offered to university employees and their dependents would be immediately repealed under a bill approved by the House Executive Committee Wednesday.

The legislation, HB 5531, (an earlier version of this story had the wrong bill number) was approved 9-2 with the only opposition coming from Reps. Dan Brady and Mike Bost, who represent downstate university districts. It now moves to the House floor.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, promised to amend the legislation on the House floor, but only after the committee reviews the proposed amendment.

One possibility, he said, would be to treat the waivers as part of a compensation package and to tax them. Another option would be to cap the number of employees eligible for the scholarships. A third would be to phase out the waivers over time.

"This state is on the brink of bankruptcy," said Rep. Joseph Lyons, D-Chicago. "I don't think there are any sacred cows that we cannot consider."

Arroyo said he promoted the bill because "tuition rates keep going up because we are paying to educate the children of other state employees."

More in Thursday's News-Gazette.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

What about the Legislative Scholarships?  Are they going to end also?

bremax wrote on March 01, 2012 at 9:03 am

Are you kidding?  Of course not!

 

Our masters take every advantage.  Our role as their servant is to pay for it.  That is the deal in the highly corrupt Illinois.

kiel wrote on February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

How utterly idiotic. Let's say that the loss of the 50% tuition waivers cause 50% of the faculty and state employee children to go elsewhere instead. This leaves 50% of the previous number of students paying 100%. In other words, it's a complete wash for the state in terms of tuition collection. The tuition at state schools is NOT going up because of a few hundred 50% tuition waivers for faculty and staff children. It's going up because of the complete incompetence of the state legislature and governor. Maybe Rep. Arroyo should have taken math (and government studies) while he was in college....

Alexander wrote on February 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Who said Arroyo went to college? His bio mentions his primary and high school education, only.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

So, they don't have a problem in taking away a negotiated perc that some employees have been counting on for many years, but they won't touch the legislative scholarships....what a load of bull!  Just because Arroyo and the rest of those bums couldn't do their jobs for the last 30 years, doesn't mean that hard working long-term employees should pay the price. 

danrice56 wrote on February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

No sacred cows will notbe considered? Okay, what about the overinflated salaries of some of the administrators? Education is important. U I workers ARE paying for their children's tuition, by their years of hard work and dedication.

Although civil service jobs pay decently, we're not exactly talking million dollar salaries here.

If they had to pay for the education, many employees could not afford to give their offspring the advantage of a U I education.

 

So by all means spare the higher up and screw those at the lower levels yet again.

 

Because regardless of what lofty speeches are made, some scared cows are always sacred.

blmillini2 wrote on February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

With all due respect , why should employee children receive a 50% reduction in tuition when an employee at the local shopping mall or a laborer pounding nails doesn't get similar consideration for their children.

 

The money that is spent on tuition waivers , professors geting paid 200K+ for teaching 2 or 3 classes, pensions that pays retired professors 80% of their ending salaries with a guarantedd COLA has got to stop.

The state is broke!!!

 

Private sector employees are or will soon be tired of paying these perks

Alexander wrote on February 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm

First of all, the benefit is also for UI employees who are not professors; e.g., secretaries, janitors, maintenance etc. Second, the argument that "why should X get something if Y doesn't" is nonsense. It's a benefit aimed at attracting loyal staff up and down the chain. Third, most professors don't make anywhere near 200K. They teach, do research and bring in grants. Finally, to be honest, most of these "200K" faculty don't send their kids to U of I (or Illinois state U's) anyway. If you think it's so easy to become a 200K professor, why don't you get educated and do it yourself.

blmillini2 wrote on February 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

same old BS ---loyal staff up and down the line -What?

 

I understand it is for all employees -----what make a maintenance worker at UI any more in need of the waiver than the maintenance worker at the mall

 

Loyalty --- ?????? Bunk - I would imagine that there are hundreds of people in and around CU that would be more than happy with some of those jobs -without the waiver-- and probably would be equally loyal and qualified

 

Are you one of those that make the 200K-------- or did you not make it past 101 courses

 

Is your answer to raise taxes and fees for all of us in the state to support this benefit that is no longer affordable

Alexander wrote on February 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I don't even know what your first sentence (question) means.

Second sentence: there is no notion of "deserves", only negotiation. If someone accepted a job with a benefit listed, then obviously they would be upset if that was withdrawn. Suppose you accepted a job for $5/hr when the mall offered $6/hr because the $5/hr had a certain benefit. Wouldn't you be upset if that benefit was removed. 

Third sentence: I'm sure I'd like a job running Apple instead of the late Steve Jobs. What I want and what I'm qualified for are two different things. Everyone in CU is capable of applying to any job at U of I, including the 200K jobs. 

Fourth sentence: is there a point to this question?  

Fifth and final sentence: I think you need to develop a solid educational atmosphere in Illinois so that companies in Illinois can be developed with strong smart leaders and talented employees. This benefits everyone in the private sector. Even someone who did not make it past 101 courses can be learned enough to know that the problem of funding education isn't as one-dimensional as raising taxes or not, despite what deficient ideology might suggest.

blmillini2 wrote on March 01, 2012 at 7:03 am

Again with respect, you imply that state workers make 10 to 20 % percent less that private sector workers. I do not agree with that and have seen reports that would support that theory. I'm sure others with disagree with that idea.---- Agree to disagree but not be disagreeable.

 

The point about other people seeking the UI jobs was only to try to illustrate that this loyalty, job experience,etc nonsense is just that-- nonsense.If employees leave when waivers are removed, so be it. There will qualified people clamoring for their jobs.

I agree we need a strong edicational foundation in the state. However, I don't think my children and grandchildren should be paying more in tuition to support  tuition waivers for employees.

 

Could someone research what tuition cost is in Illinois for state schools compared to other states. I did for IL vs FL and found IL to be 20 to 25 percent higher 

 

As noted, the State of Illinois is financially failing.There has to be cuts everywhere to save our fiscal future. I do not think it is "fair" for the taxpayers of the state to pay higher and higher taxes and fees to fund these waivers. 

 

I do agree with all the comments about the politicians.

Alexander wrote on March 01, 2012 at 7:03 am

Re: "10-20%": I never said that. My example never even said the "benefit employer" was public. It only argues that a benefit once offered ought to be honored. That's basic courtesy if nothing else.

Re: "experience is nonsense" argument: seriously? You mention "research" later in your response. Perhaps one should research this point instead. Google "value of experience in workplace" is an easy place to start.

Re: "children and grandchildren": Your children and grandchildren need strong schools to attend, and to benefit from being able to employ (or be employed by) talent. That's what keeps the economy going. Erode the educational cornerstone of the state by backtracking on relatively cheap commitments and look forward to companies leaving (or not forming) here; _then_ your loved ones will be paying.

Re: "cuts to save financial future": It's not that simple. History has shown time and time again that in times of economic downturn governments need to spend _more_ to stimulate the economy and that big cuts just make things worse. Study, e.g., the depression.  

blmillini2 wrote on March 02, 2012 at 6:03 am

 

Re: "10-20%": I never said that. My example never even said the "benefit employer" was public. It only argues that a benefit once offered ought to be honored. That's basic courtesy if nothing else.

So can we agree that salary for comparable jobs in the private sector and the public sector are equal for the most part? If so, then thebenefit package is the difference maker. Several posters implied that they or family members took jobs at a university at lesser salary to be Public Servants.

 I too believe in basic courtesy. When a company is bankrupt then all promises are not or can not be kept. Is the state bankrupt?

Before bankruptcy should concessions be considered? Are they not in the private sector?

Re: "experience is nonsense" argument: seriously? You mention "research" later in your response. Perhaps one should research this point instead.Google "value of experience in workplace" is an easy place to start.

 

I  agree that experience is valuable but how valuable?   Experience has value only to the extent that the employee remains valuable to the company. Can the same be said about education system?

 

My comment about research ( do I note a bit of sarcasm in your comment) related to tuition charges. I was merely curious about the tuition charges at U I compared to other State universities. How does U I compare to other schools, in the Big Ten for example

Re: "children and grandchildren": Your children and grandchildren need strong schools to attend, and to benefit from being able to employ (or be employed by) talent. That's what keeps the economy going. Erode the educational cornerstone of the state by backtracking on relatively cheap commitments and look forward to companies leaving (or not forming) here; _then_ your loved ones will be paying.

 

I agree  about strong schools . I don't agree that if these waivers are gone that the education system will erode. Companies are already leaving the state - the largest recent example being Caterpillar with the new plant they will build in GA.

 Is there no waste anywhere in the educational system?

Re: "cuts to save financial future": It's not that simple. History has shown time and time again that in times of economic downturn governments need to spend _more_ to stimulate the economy and that big cuts just make things worse. Study, e.g., the depression.  

Spend more -  whose money!  As noted in earlier comments , that money will come from higher taxes (income tax, personal property, sales,etc),more debt and higher fees. (Gun registration(proposed by Chicago mayor) and a $1 license fee for electric cars. Let the market determine if we want to drive electric cars.) Politicians will continue to dream up new fees to avoid making difficult decisions.

 I would chose to use a more current example for discussion about excessive debt --Greece

I wish you and all the others on the comment list would be equally  vocal about the closing of prisons, etc. Is the only issue that we care about is that one(s) that have impact on us

 

There has been much talk about shared sacrifice in this country-I don't see any here- 

Finally . I respect you comments and opinions . You are smart, articulate and civil.

 

Alexander wrote on March 02, 2012 at 7:03 am

Re: Public vs private benefits: it's too complicated a question for me to address comprehensively here because there are many variables. This is a question of statistics not anecdotes. It is however true that private universities pay on average more than public ones for faculty. 

Re: "state bankrupt": the state is not "bankrupt" in the sense a person would be. It has serious debt/deficit. It then becomes a matter of choice what to cut. Some cuts can make things worse not better. To take an extreme example, suppose we cut all police. Would that improve the economy?

Re: "companies leaving the state": even more companies will leave or never form if the schools erode. Yes, reducing benefits (a very cheap one at that) will erode the universities. To put this in perspective: the estimated cost is 8 million a year. The deficit is 16 billion or so? That 0.05% of the deficit. This is not a real deficit reduction measure. This is a dirty political move by Arroyo **because the universities would not support legislative scholarships to his liking**. Their time should be spent on real matters, not this.

Re: "Greece": Greece is in debt because of massive corruption and people _not_ paying taxes. That is not an appropriate example. The history on this matter of economics is very clear: austerity makes things much worse.

blmillini2 wrote on March 02, 2012 at 8:03 pm

OK 

 

Greece is corrupt and Illinois is not? Are other cash strapped European countries equallly as corrupt?

We are paying taxes in Illinois and still going deeper in debt. Revenue will not increase in an unfriendly business environment.

What cuts do you suggest.  The income tax increase will only cover increased pension cost.

Is there any fat at the U I ? Are tuition costs at U I in line with other state universities?

A million here, a million there -pretty soon we are talking a real money. 

I am done on this topic - Thanks

 

 

 

Alexander wrote on March 02, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Greece's corruption problems are qualitatively different than Illinois. Analysis of economies does not reduce to wordplay. Other cash strapped European countries? Let's talk about the economic engine of Europe, i.e., Germany. They're putting money into education and research at unprecedented levels.

Re: tuition. There are variables. The most obvious one is how much the state government puts into the universities. The "final number" analysis is too rudimentary.

Re: cuts and fat: I'm sure there are things to talk about, but what's the point of talking about it here?

Re: "million here" argument: correct, let's fire all the police then. They're expensive.

There's nothing else you've brought up that isn't responded to in my other posts.

blmillini2 wrote on March 02, 2012 at 7:03 am

 

So can we agree that salary for comparable jobs in the private sector and the public sector are equal for the most part? If so, then the benefit package is the difference maker. Several posters implied that they or family members took jobs at a university at lesser salary to be Public Servants. I too believe in basic courtesy. When a company is bankrupt then all promises are not or can not be kept. Is the state bankrupt?Before bankruptcy should concessions be considered? Are they not in the private sector? I  agree that experience is valuable but how valuable?   Experience has value only to the extent that the employee remains valuable to the company. Can the same be said about education system? My comment about research ( do I note a bit of sarcasm in your comment) related to tuition charges. I was merely curious about the tuition charges at U I compared to other State universities. How does U I compare to other schools, in the Big Ten for example I agree  about strong schools . I don't agree that if these waivers are gone that the education system will erode. Companies are already leaving the state - the largest recent example being Caterpillar with the new plant they will build in GA. Is there no waste anywhere in the educational system?Spend more -  whose money!  As noted in earlier comments , that money will come from higher taxes (income tax, personal property, sales,etc),more debt and higher fees. (Gun registration(proposed by Chicago mayor) and a $1 license fee for electric cars. Let the market determine if we want to drive electric cars.) Politicians will continue to dream up new fees to avoid making difficult decisions. I would chose to use a more current example for discussion about excessive debt --GreeceI wish you and all the others on the comment list would be equally  vocal about the closing of prisons, etc. Is the only issue that we care about is that one(s) that have impact on us There has been much talk about shared sacrifice in this country-I don't see any here- Finally . I respect you comments and opinions . You are smart, articulate and civil. 

Mike wrote on March 01, 2012 at 7:03 am

This has nothing to do with workers at the mall or anywhere else. 

When we (collectively) were hired at the University we were offered a salary or wage package, an offer of several different health insurance options that the University would pay a portion of, a retirement package that the University would pay into, a number of vacation and sick days per year, and half-priced tuition for offpspring once the employee has worked 7 years for the University. ALL of those things add up to the salary package that I (and everyone else) agreed to. To simply take away one of those things because some guy up north thinks it will fix the states budget is unfair, and quite frankly, violates the contract that I signed when I started working for the University. 

Yes, some University workers make more money than others, and some make more or less money than folks in the private sector. How many people up in Chicago pull in over a million dollars a year? Other than the football and basketball coach, nobody at UIUC does. (And that money is paid for by sports revenue and not state tax dollars anyway).

I'm just trying to say that this is a benefit, and is no different than the state saying that they will no longer contribute to our retirement accounts, or give us days off when we're sick, or pay our salary.

This was part of the package, and to take it away is unfair--unless, of course, they grandfather it in for everyone that has already put in their 7 years with the knowledge that they could be getting paid far more in the private sector but accepted the work at the University so that their kids could afford to go to college.

Not everyone that works at UIUC is a professor making six-figures (and if you go look thinks up, you'll find that probably the majority of professors don't make six-figures either...).

ClearVision wrote on March 02, 2012 at 10:03 am

This is the crux of the matter:

This was part of the package, and to take it away is unfair--unless, of course, they grandfather it in for everyone that has already put in their 7 years with the knowledge that they could be getting paid far more in the private sector but accepted the work at the University so that their kids could afford to go to college.

Not everyone that works at UIUC is a professor making six-figures (and if you go look thinks up, you'll find that probably the majority of professors don't make six-figures either...).

It's a negotiated benefit. I can only speak for myself, but when I was hired at the university it was with full knowledge of all benefits-- salary (*much* less than commercial equivalent), vacation/holiday pay, health and life insurance, and yes, tuition breaks for myself and my children should we attend the university. At the time of my hiring my kids were pre-kindergarten, but it still factored into my acceptance of the position with all the benefits and trade-offs (low salary, no career path, etc.). Taking the tuition benefit away would be grounds for a massive class action lawsuit that could very well cost the state much more than the negotiated benefit is worth, and would result in many of the formerly-loyal employees taking that  payout out of state-- why would we continue to work for, and send our children to, a school that can't be trusted to honor commitments to its employees?

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

My comment is not whether the tuition waiver for U of I employees should stop, or continue.  My anger is directed toward the legislators who want to end the waiver for workers; but maintain their legislative scholarships for their campaign donors kids.  I am sure that some legislative scholarships went to deserving students; but the majority have been given as gifts to political supporters' kids.  Both parties have been doing it for years.  It is hypocritical; and vote pandering in an election year.  The Legislature has no shame; only greed.  

Alexander wrote on February 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Sid -- I wasn't replying to your post, although I saw it and of course agree with it.

bluegrass wrote on February 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I think the problem is the definition of "benefit."  Yes, it is a benefit to the employee or the faculty member and their children, but it is not a benefit to me.  In fact, it is actually works against me.  Since I don't work for the state, I would actually end up paying more for my kid to go to a state school, to make up for the 50% tuition that a state workers kid doesn't pay. 

If most of the $200k profs don't send their kids to the U of I as you say, I guess they won't mind.  If the rest of people in the chain don't like it, they are welcome to go somewhere else.  I'm quite sure that there are plenty of people who will gladly take their positions, even without the 50% tuition waiver.  I'm also quite sure that if this were to occur, the loss of faculty or staff will be minimal.

 

And finally, yes it is high time to end legislative scholarships once and for all.

 

Alexander wrote on February 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

First paragraph: it does not work against you even if you are not U of I staff. Consider it a retention bonus: professors, maintenance, secretaries become more expert at a job over time. If they leave because the benefits get stripped then yes they will be replaced. However, like any other job, new employees need training and are less efficient by nature. The cost of turnover to you is common to all businesses and I suspect is much higher than the 50% tuition benefit. 

Second paragraph: Most 200K profs don't send their kids to U of I. But as I asserted, and which is plain to anyone who looks it up online, most profs don't make nearly that much. Also, not every 200K prof has brilliant children, but simple truth is that many do, either because of good genes or good parental work. If you can provide an attraction to have them stay at an Illinois university then all the more likely they'll stay in Illinois (as opposed to, say, Boston or New York or the Bay area) and help to strengthen the economy (not to mention improve the academic profile of our schools).

Re: the "if you don't like it, you can be replaced" argument you give: I respond to this also with my response to your first paragraph -- and no, many excellent faculty and staff cannot be easily replaced in talent; it's not like Champaign-Urbana is the most obviously desirable for it's scenery. I'm at least as sure of that as you are of the opposite conclusion.

 

bluegrass wrote on February 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Nah, I'm pretty certain that if the tuition waiver goes away, it won't affect retention of employees or faculty in the slightest.  And if it does, it really doesn't bother me in the slightest.  Would it be nice to offer a janitor or a carpenter or a secretary or a professor the opportunity to send the kids to the U of I at half price.  That is nice.  It would also be nice to offer them a new Chevy Volt as a "retention bonus."  Should the U of I provide a Chevy Volt to all the children of the U of I employees at taxpayer expense?  And anyway, a half price tuition is a renention bonus?  Really?  For a secretary or a maintenance worker?  Where else is a secretary or a janitor or any tradesman going to get a job where they are guaranteed an above average wage, defined benefit pension, way above average health benefits, and such job security that it is virtually impossible to get fired?  And I'm supposed to be worried they'll leave and a new person will have to be trained?  It just doesn't worry me at all.  Before you get upset - I didn't say overpaid, I said above average.

I can tell you're upset, and I'm sorry, but the bottom line is that kids whose parent happen to work for the U of I should not get an upper hand at education at the expense of the rest of the population.  Remember all that hoopla we just went through over political involvement in the application process?  The ax fell hard on the leadership of the U of I.  Really, this is the exact same thing.  It is political pandering at the expense of the taxpayer, just like legislative scholarships.  If you want to offer employees of the university a tuition waiver, then don't take any state tax money to fund the school.  Become a private entity, and this really won't be an issue.

Listen, I don't begrudge people that work at the U of I.  I know there are a lot of hard working people out there who do a great job, and care about their jobs, and care about this community.  I love the U of I, and I know that if it weren't for the university I wouldn't even be living in this town.  My best friends in the world will be affected negatively if this bill passes.  But the reality is that the system of giving perks to the children of state workers is unfair at it's core. 
 

 

Alexander wrote on February 29, 2012 at 10:02 pm

As in my response to someone else above, there is no notion of "deserves", only negotiation. If indeed you were offered a Chevy Volt as part of the attraction for working at ABC inc. or U of XYZ then yes, it is part of the  benefit package that attracted you to somesuch place. We can argue about who might leave, or the effects, but nothing is going to be definitively resolved here.

Yes, I do put forward the argument of a retention bonus. Since we as taxpayers deserve efficient work, and experience lends itself to efficiency, then retaining experience is beneficial to the taxpayer. There are other arguments as well; but I surmise your concern is government expenditures so there's a counterargument.

Re: "upset". Please do not patronize me by suggesting I am upset (and don't feel the need to be sorry), and focus on the logic of my arguments. What conclusion does one want to draw about two people (you and I) who are on a website chatting about such a thing?

Re: "upper hand" or "unfair" argument: this is a variation on the "deserves" argument I already discussed above. Also unfair are our (many more) tax dollars benefiting bailouts to "private sector" banks staff who gauged the economy with fraudulent mortgage schemes. It's an endless loop to talk about who deserves what or why. The only conversation that makes sense is 1. negotiated benefits and 2. social benefit.

Re: "political involvement scandal": that issue and the present one not comparable from any legal perspective, or any other rational framework. One (tuition waiver) is a law that was passed and the second was not, for starters. The former is available to all employees of U of I and the second was not available to all applicants.

bluegrass wrote on February 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm

It wasn't my intention to be patronizing by claiming you're upset, so if it came across that way I'll apologize.  I guess I just assumed you have some interest in the matter, otherwise you wouldn't be arguing for the cause.  But if you're just an average, unaffected taxpayer who thinks it's perfectly legitimate to give thousands of union workers half off tuition at a state university, I still think you're wrong.  We'll just have to agree to disagree.

kiel wrote on March 01, 2012 at 7:03 am

"Nah, I'm pretty certain that if the tuition waiver goes away, it won't affect retention of employees or faculty in the slightest." 

Yes, it would. I know people who would start looking elsewhere for positions--like universities that offer 100% tuition waivers to children of faculty/staff, of which there are many.

bluegrass wrote on March 01, 2012 at 7:03 am

ok

nbaxley wrote on March 01, 2012 at 9:03 pm

You know, I bet we could find some person to fill pretty much every position at the University for minimum wage.  Think of the money we could save!  It'll be perfect!  Of course the people who will take that wage probably aren't the best ones suited for that role.  They probably don't have the expertiese or experience for the job.  But that's an extreme case.  Let's try paying a decent wage, but no benefits.  We'll get people who can probably do the job.  They may be taking this job only because no one else would hire them, but they'll show up every day.  But the people who are really on top of their game, who can make the University run efficiently, they will go somewhere else that will pay them what they're worth.  If you want to cut compensation at the university and drive away good people and probably make the situation even worse further down the road, it sounds like you're as short sighted as the legislators putting these save a penny now to spend a dollar 10 year from now plans into law.

The lowest bidder wins is not the way to hire good people and run a competent organization, state run or private.

faceless wrote on March 01, 2012 at 8:03 am

" many excellent faculty and staff cannot be easily replaced in talent; it's not like Champaign-Urbana is the most obviously desirable for it's scenery."

Its amazing how many people dont realize these two facts.

 

LedgerCat wrote on February 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Thank you Alexander!   While there are alot of professors that make six figures, there are many that do not. We are in the "do not" category.  As I stated in my post below, we paid for our daughter to go through four years at the U of I.  We decided to move to IL with the plan that we would pay for the first and get a break on the second. So, we make too much for financial assistance and now the tuition waiver could be gone...and with no advance warning so we can plan or adjust either.  Add insult to injury...a tuition increase for Fall 2012 students. Yippeee!

Alexander wrote on March 01, 2012 at 7:03 am

It might make sense to write to Wise or even Hogan, who should help take your concerns to Quinn. For what it's worth, it sounds unlikely that the bill, if even passed, will affect your second child 100%.

LedgerCat wrote on February 29, 2012 at 11:02 pm

An employee has to work for the University of Illinois for SEVEN years to even be eligible for the 50% tuition waiver.  We moved here in 2004 and we paid for all four years of our first child's education.  Now that the second child is ready to start her first year, they are going to yank the tuition waiver and we will lose the benefit that has been held in front of our noses for all these years.  The tuition waiver is a longevity and loyalty employee discount. The U of I is not the only employer to offer an employee discount on their services...even the mall employees (and I have worked at the mall) receive an employee discount from their employer.  Yanking the tuition waivers will cause another wave of "brain drain" from this University.  They bring in a high dollar coach and president and then steal a benefit from the employees.  Who would want to stick around for that with a big ole "Thank you, SIr! May I have another?!"

jwr12 wrote on March 01, 2012 at 12:03 am

@bluegrass: "giving perks to the children of state workers is unfair at it's core."

 

I think your antipathy to "state workers" is blinding you to the fact that this, like all "perks", is a negotiated part of compensation, and is viewed by such by people, when they make the choice to commit to this community and university.  This isn't a freebie, randomly given; this is something people consider when they decide to stay or go.  And it matters.  I was offered a job four years ago by a major private university that pays 50% of the tuition of children no matter where they go (i.e. not just at the university itself, but any school in the world).  That place also contributes a higher share to retirement.  Now I love the U of I, believe in public education, and CU as well, but had I known then just how heavily employee complensation was going to be hammered -- no raises, cuts in pensions, and now this -- I certainly would have been less idealistic about staying here.  There's only so much the state should seek to trade on the enthusiasm of workers who do have choices and in most cases would be better compensated by private employers.

faceless wrote on March 01, 2012 at 8:03 am

At the end of the day, UI is another employer. To attract the best and brightest (there are other jobs needed at UI than just janitor, clerk, electrician etc), it needs to compete at a national and international level with other employers. 

 

I am only worried the state is just hurting itself by taking away one benefit after the other from UI employees. And in this day and technology, nothing is an impediment for a talented researcher or a scientist to go find another well paying job elsewhere. If this trend continues, UI will have a tough time attracting talent. And that has much higher repurcussions than a couple of scholarships.

 

abcbdb98 wrote on March 01, 2012 at 9:03 am

This is absolutely ridiculous. Our family has made decisions (family & financial) based on this benefit. My husband has been an employee for over 15 years and we have planned for our children’s educational future based on having this benefit. We have had opportunities to move out of town and out of state but when weighing our pros and cons; this benefit has been a factor. Working for the University has many benefits and with the economy the way it is, it has been a blessing to have a secure job but we can't keep losing benefits. Every job has its benefits and when you choose to work for someone you base your decisions based on the benefits offered to you. You make life decisons based on your job. You do what's best for you and your family.


I certainly can understand if the state decides that this benefit can longer exist for future hires. Then, people choosing to work for the University will be making an educated decision about whether or not they want to work for the benefits offered. Not, here is a benefit for you, and then 15 years later being told, “Sorry, the benefit you have planned on, the benefit you made financial decisions based on, and the benefit that helped make your decision to remain in Illinois no longer exists.”


Everyday people are making decisions to leave Illinois: individuals, families, and companies…please stop driving us away and stop taking away benefits.

faceless wrote on March 01, 2012 at 10:03 am

thats sad

ABCMOM4 wrote on March 01, 2012 at 10:03 am

@abcbdb98  - - I agree completely with what you have stated.    This is such a limited benefit that is offered to employees and even if your child qualifies to go to UI that doesn't mean that they will chose to go there.   The cost of attendance is extremely high even with the waiver.  It does not cover fees.  Long term employees have been counting on this benefit and have incorporated it into their long term financial planning.      Eliminating this 'perk' will not put any money back in the state budget and will do absolutely nothing in deficit reduction.  I would like Rep. Luis Arroyo to definitely state how much money will be put back in the state coffers with the elimination of this benefit.    

bernies wrote on March 01, 2012 at 11:03 am

Funny. From yesterday's Peoria Jounal-Star:

Regarding the 50% discount for the children of state university employees "Arroyo said the practice costs the state about $387 million a year. That money could be used to cover other state expenses, he said". Opponents of the bill "disputed Arroyo's estimate of the cost of the program. They said the cost is closer to $8 million a year, which covers about 2,000 students." (Note: That's $8 million for all state universities combined.)

Quite a gap between $387 million and $8 million!

And another item from the Bloomington Pantagraph:

"While Arroyo and others support the General Assembly scholarship program, it has been under fire for decades because some lawmakers have doled out the perk to political cronies. A measure abolishing the $14 million program also is pending in the House."

sgraham48 wrote on March 01, 2012 at 11:03 am

The taxpayers don't have deep enough pockets to keep doing nice things for everyone.  This is a nice perk we can't afford.  I wish we could, but we can't.  We simply can't.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 01, 2012 at 1:03 pm

If the legislators want to demonstrate their cost saving, and the need to abolish the tuition waiver for university employees; they should abolish their legislative scholarships first.  After that has been done, they could abolish the employee's tuition waiver.  The whole thing is hypocritical.  You, and I know that they will not do away with their legislative scholarships.  Leaders lead by example.  However, this is Illinois the state nationally known for corruption.  This has nothing to do with unions, professors, building service workers, or non-university workers.  This is about cost saving, and political hypocrites.  Will the local legislators please make their planned vote be known to the public ?

ClearVision wrote on March 02, 2012 at 10:03 am

This is not a "perk." This is a negotiated, contractually-based condition of employment. It's not like free coffee in the employee lounge.

peabody wrote on March 01, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Wake up and join the 21st century. These are not the old days when the state paid all the bills or even half of them. State funding only accounts for about 18 percent of the university's budget, and falling.The rest comes through tuition, donations, research grants, etc. I know people at the university who have worked their tails off their whole career to cope with funding shortfalls brought on by willy-nilly legislative witch hunts like this one, by grandstanding legislators who "earn" votes off this popular belief that the university is full of fat cats being fed grapes off the taxpayer dime. These poll-watching politicians think that because the state pays 18 percent of the bills at the university they can dictate 100 percent of what happens there. So they use the university as the sacrificial lamb in their bid to look like deficit hawks, when in reality they won't touch legislative scholarships or any of the other pork in their districts. Taking away the tuition benefit gains them $8 million -- forget the blatant lie that it's $400 million or whatever. $400 million would mean that half of the roughly 160,000 students at public universities in this state are children of university employees. No way. Even $8 million is a stretch because the state isn't billed for that lost tuition -- it's a shortfall faced by the university, and the university copes with it in other ways other than increased state funding, just like they've coped for years with how the state robs their pension funds or flat out refuses to pay them what the legislature promised.


Anyway, assume it is $8 million, or $20 million. The legislature could gain that back by cutting their travel reimbursement by a nickel or dime per mile, or by forgoing free flights from Chicago to Springfield so they don't have to look at cornfields for a couple of hours, but that won't happen. Instead they're gonna pound on the university because plenty of constituents think universities are full of people who get sheltered from the hardships of the real world. If they knew a darn thing they'd know that couldn't be further from the truth.    

nbaxley wrote on March 01, 2012 at 9:03 pm

You make a good point about the level of state funding these days at the University.  What's to prevent the University from making these waivers a part of employees contracts if the state law goes away.  The bulk of University money comes from tuition and grants, not the state.  Why does the state get to dictate our hiring and compensation practices?

jamesbrian wrote on March 02, 2012 at 9:03 am

"This state is on the brink of bankruptcy," said Rep. Joseph Lyons, D-Chicago. "I don't think there are any sacred cows that we cannot consider."


Arroyo said he promoted the bill because "tuition rates keep going up because we are paying to educate the children of other state employees."


I don't usually post to these forums.  However, I have two problems with this issue.


First, this isn't going to save the State any money.  These are waivers so the universities just eat the money...much like the millions in tuition waivers given to veterans.  Or waivers to any other group.


Second, this is not the only reason tuition keeps going up and we all know it.  Guaranteed tuition guaranteed that tuition keeps going up.  Also, everything goes up so tuittion will as well. 


I can agree that maybe it should be taxed like compensation but a lot of folks don't make what they would in the private sector.  And, not everyone in the university system makes the salaries that are made at UIUC.  It is the flagship.


The sponsors of this bill really have to be needing something badly to claim that this will save any money.

Feltrino wrote on March 05, 2012 at 2:03 pm

The incessant whining is just too much!  A perk, be it negotiated or not, is being taken away.  Deal with it.  This is how the real world works.  If you were planning on this perk to send your kids to college as early as kindergarten age, did it ever occur to you that you could lose your job in the ensuing 12 years?  How were you planning on sending them to college then?

If the elimination of tuition waivers so upsets you, you have alternatives as some have mentioned.  Quit, and find another job elsewhere.  Oh yeah, the economy is in the tank and jobs aren't so readily available, and the housing market isn't so great either.  Maybe in this difficult economic climate, your job isn't so bad after all.

Where has the outrage been all these years that we have not done enough to compensate employees who have no children for this perk?  Or, employees who send their children out of state?  They have been deprived the benefit of this perk.  Should we pay them for not taking the tuition waiver?

It is nothing more or less than another government entitlement program that is going away.  In many cases, the critics of this legislation would celebrate the end of another government entitlement program.  Feels a little different when it is your food stamps that are being cut.

Alexander wrote on March 05, 2012 at 5:03 pm

This incessant repetition of the same rhetoric is too much! If you feel like venting then go ahead. If you feel like understanding the issues, go read the other comments and actually provide a counterargument to the finer points. 

Feltrino wrote on March 06, 2012 at 6:03 am

Finer points. Like how you interjected Arroyo's education into this discussion. That has certainly added to the understanding of the issue.

The finer point, or only point, is that you are upset because your food stamps are being cut.  This is a government entitlement, plain and simple.  As a taxpayer, I no longer want to subsidize your education.  

I can only imagine from your posts that you may be one of those who has a child about ready to attend college and were counting on this government handout to help pay the way.  Now, you find yourself unable to make ends meet and send your child to college.  If that is the case, for you or others, this is a hard lesson in economics but a reality that many people who do not receive entitlements confront every day.  

TheWholeTruth wrote on March 05, 2012 at 5:03 pm

University employees........c'mon, really? Do Carle employees get 50% off surgery/hospital rooms? Do laborers get 50% off the homes they build? Do auto dealership employees get 50% off cars/trucks? No they don't, and they also don't receive free health insurance for life, either! You can rationalize it any way you want, but any discount your dependents get is revenue that the University does not receive. It's time to say goodbye to this ill-advised program, as well as the legislative scholarships. And while we're at it, why don't we make it OK for anyone to change a light bulb...without having to call a union maintenance worker!  

Alexander wrote on March 05, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Your argument makes no sense. 1. What does one group's compensation have to do with another? 2. By your "rationalize" argument we should also not pay any employees money, that way the university will really improve their bottom line! (While we're at it, stop paying police officers, since they're expensive, since apparently the one-dimensional bottom $ line is all that you compute in your analysis.) 3. Union workers and light bulbs have nothing to do with this. Don't confuse the issues. 4. All your arguments (such as they are) are handled in earlier posts.

bluegrass wrote on March 05, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Apparently, to U of I employees comparing the compensation of different employers is quite important, since supposedly if the state does away with this super important "retention" tool, factuly and staff will be staging a mass exodus.

Feltrino wrote on March 06, 2012 at 7:03 am

By you argument, Alexander, every university employee is entitled to the terms of their employment (including the employment itself) for as long as they like. When they were hired it was with the understanding that they would get this handout. Your argument implies this entitlement is a right.  Your employment, and the terms, are not a right. You can be discharged from your job, and any of it's terms, at will.  Did you agree to furloughs when you were hired?

 

peabody wrote on March 05, 2012 at 11:03 pm

First of all your claim that nobody else gets employee discounts is absurd. If you're really this upset about it you better go protest every retailer, restaurant, gas station and other business that you can find because they all do it. While you're at it go protest hotels because they give some people the AARP discount and not others. Go protest the federal government because they provide tuition waivers and health care to veterans. Go protest every coffee shop that gives a senior discount. Go protest the grocery stores that give lower prices to people with a scan card. Get my drift yet? The university has a right to compete just like everyone else, and one of the ways to keep good employees is through this discount. 

Feltrino wrote on March 06, 2012 at 6:03 am

Do you really think that the service of a veteran is analogous to a university employee?

peabody wrote on March 06, 2012 at 8:03 am

By the logic being used against the discount, it is analogous because veteran waivers aren't available to everyone else, either. Face it, the opposition to this discount has too little to do with economics than to be based in anything other than envy, and if you're going to oppose one discount you should oppose them all. And no, I don't mean to disparage the service of veterans or suggest they aren't deserving of tuition waivers, but that's beside the point. Nice try though! You aren't the only one who's tried to use veterans as a pawn in political rhetoric. Employees of the university are deserving too because of the service they provide over the years. The tuition discount is part of their compensation.  

Feltrino wrote on March 06, 2012 at 9:03 am

I was suggesting that YOU were disparaging veterans.

Are you saying that I am envious of coffee shop workers who receive discounts, or AARP members?  And that I should protest these discounts? That is so off the point as to be ridiculous.  Private corporations may do whatever they wish.  The University is not a private corporation.  Lest you forget, my tax dollars pay for your salary and compensation.  University employees do not generate revenue as baristas do.  However, when a coffee shop is no longer able to pay its bills, it would be in the owner's best interest to consider cutting employee discounts.

My opposition has nothing to do with envy and everything to do with economics.  Given a finite number of students, for each one that is admitted at a discount, there is lost revenue. That revenue is made up by tax payers who can no longer afford it. Unless the University has more openings for students than apply, how can it be any other way?  Take away the incentive and some students will go elsewhere?  That is their choice but it is not like the University is facing a shortage of applicants.  Take away the incentive and staff will leave?  Have you seen the unemployment rates lately?  There are more people than jobs.  The economics are clear. 

"Employees of the university are deserving too because of the service they provide over the years."  There is that sense of entitlement I have been referring to.

"The tuition discount is part of their compensation."  You are about to get a pay cut! 

peabody wrote on March 06, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Lest you forget, the state only pays 18 percent of the university's bills, and falling. The taxpayers aren't making up for any lost revenue for anything. Back in the old timey days tuition was as low as $50 a year (low even back then) because the state paid most the bills. Your complaint would have carried more weight in the 1950s. But over the years the complaining taxpayer has slowly made headway on reducing tax payments to the university. Now the state still wants control over every aspect of the university even though state money is rapidly on its way to becoming symbolic only. The legislature's meddling is a lot less valid now. The grandstanding politicians can expect to be hit back when they pull election year publicity stunts like this.       

Feltrino wrote on March 07, 2012 at 7:03 am

"The legislature's meddling is a lot less valid now." 

Valid, nonetheless. You make my point.

Au1 wrote on March 06, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Feltrino, would you be so callous if it were *you* who were about to receive a paycut? How about some of your family, friends, and neighbors? You talk as though this is an *added* benefit to University employees, when it is in fact part of their compensation. And it would be one thing if University employees weren't going without raises (I'm talking staff, here, not faculty), and weren't doing twice as much work for the same pay because of hiring freezes and such. I get your point about economics, but it's kind of a cold way to look at it, don't you think?

Feltrino wrote on March 07, 2012 at 7:03 am

I have endured pay cuts, wage freezes, and benefit reductions and I didn't like it at all. As soon as I could, I found work elsewhere and was happier for it.  My employer demonstrated that they were not a place that I wanted to work.  I have worked as a vendor for the State of Illinois. They were the worst client I had!  By the sounds of things, they are no better an employer.  The big difference is that they make payroll. As a client, it is taking them a year or more in some cases to pay their invoices.  Eventually, I refused to work for them.

No raises, twice as much work for the same pay...this is what the private sector has been dealing with for quite some time.  You may think me callous, I think of myself as realistic.  It is a crappy thing to have to go through, I've been there.  Your choices are few.  Live with the reality that your employment is at the whim of a politician who may not have your interests in mind or find a different employer.  None of this is news. Just like you knew about the waiver when you took the job, you also knew that the legislature had their hand in your workplace and that you were an easy target for grandstanding politicians.  Let's face it, your boss stinks.