Tom Kacich: Killeen, Glassman clash over IPAC's feasibility

Tom Kacich: Killeen, Glassman clash over IPAC's feasibility

The superlatives were flying last week when University of Illinois President Tim Killeen met with members of the House Higher Education to explain the UI's Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment, a proposal linking annual, stable state funding to a series of performance commitments by the university.

It was Killeen's second appearance of the month, and it went slightly better than the first one.

But the IPAC isn't exciting lawmakers, at least in the House. It hasn't been voted out of the committee yet. A similar Senate bill is set for a hearing this week.

"This is historic. This would be national leadership for the state of Illinois, reimagining the relationship between higher education and the taxpayers of Illinois with performance metrics in hand, with all of these value issues about access, affordability, and all that transpires in an accountable framework," Killeen told the committee.

"It's essentially structural reform," he said. "And for us, for any university in the country to say we're going to sign up to a graduation rate or a retention rate from freshman to sophomore years, is a big deal. So yes, this is big. It's a landmark resolution. We realize that."

There's still skepticism about the IPAC in the House, and that's without even broaching the notion that the Legislature is powerless to even talk about a funding commitment while the Disastrous Duo of Rauner & Madigan refuse to work on a budget.

There's also skepticism, though, from others in the Illinois higher education community, including the president of Eastern Illinois University.

EIU President David Glassman denigrated, in a gentle sort of way, the IPAC idea when he appeared before a Senate committee a day later.

"We've been in numerous conversations with similar types of compacts and so on. However I'd have to say that we're not looking for a promise in order to have great outcomes," Glassman told senators. "We're working every single day to continue to have great outcomes for our students, whether it's in retention or graduation. We don't need to have that piece sitting there to act as, if you get this you'll get this.

"We're going to do that anyway. That's who we are. That's what we do."

In short: EIU is going to give you great outcomes, whether you give us a certain level of funding or not.

"Relative to a predictable and stable budget, we would love that," Glassman admitted. "But in a compact does that really ensure it from one year to another? We need to look at the state, the General Assembly, the governor as a partner with what we're trying to do."

In conclusion, he said, "We should be held accountable. We should be looking at performance. And we should be expecting an appropriate amount of funding to help us keep our universities accessible to the students and the citizens of Illinois."

EIU and other universities resent the UI plan to expand its enrollment while they are fighting to retain students. And they don't seem keen on the IPAC.

As written now the deal says that the UI would get $647.18 million every year from the state (with annual increases based on inflation) for five years.

In exchange the UI would guarantee to limit in-state, undergraduate tuition increase to no more than the rate of inflation, and provide $170 million a year in financial aid to in-state students. It also would pledge to admit as new and transfer students 14,000 Illinois residents each year at the Urbana campus, maintain a first- to second-year retention rate of 87 percent and also commit to a 6-year graduation rate of 72 percent.

"We are committed to Illinois families and to a return on our taxpayer base," Killeen said. "We're so committed that we're willing to write it into statute. No one else in the country has done this yet."

Shimkus foe?

Carl Spoerer of Mahomet says on a campaign website that he will run in Illinois' 15th Congressional District next year, presumably opposing 11-term incumbent Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville.

The 15th Congressional District includes parts of Champaign and Ford counties and all of Vermilion, Douglas, Coles, Edgar, Moultrie, Shelby and about 25 other southern Illinois counties.

It is a conservative, heavily Republican district. Donald Trump got 70.12 percent of the presidential vote in the 15th District last year, the highest percentage rate in any of Illinois' 18 congressional districts by 10 percentage points.

"Resisting Trump begins in the 15th district of Illinois," it says at the top of Spoerer's website.

The site describes Spoerer as a "social moderate and a financial conservative. Rather than voting in lockstep with congressional leaders, Carl will be an independent voice who fights to protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education and programs critical to farming communities. Carl's number one goal for the district is to return the jobs lost over the last 20 years back to the district. Spoerer was not available for comment but his website describes him as a small businessman and coach of the women's rugby team at the University of Illinois.

Marlin sweep

Diane Marlin, the Democratic candidate for mayor of Urbana, has had a pretty impressive sweep of endorsements this spring, including labor and business groups.

She's received the backing of Urbana Firefighters Local 1147, Urbana Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, the AFL-CIO of Champaign County, the East Central Illinois Building Trades Council and Laborers Local 703.

Marlin, who is up against Republican Rex Bradfield in Tuesday's voting, also has the endorsement of the Champaign County Business Empowered political action committee, which included a $500 campaign contribution.

Davis campaign fined

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis' campaign fund, Rodney for Congress, has paid a $3,400 fine assessed by the Federal Election Commission for failing to disclose all financial transactions on a pre-primary election report last spring.

The campaign committee filed an amended pre-primary report last April that disclosed an additional $95,059 in campaign spending.

The fine was first reported by the Belleville News-Democrat.

"(W)e learned some disbursements from this period were inadvertently left off the original report. We have fixed this and included all disbursements in this amendment," the campaign said at the time.

The Davis campaign was ordered by the FEC to pay the civil penalty and develop and certify implementation of a compliance operations manual with internal controls as described by the FEC.

Davis defeated his primary election opponent last spring, Ethan Vandersand, 77 percent to 23 percent.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporter and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at

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annabellissimo wrote on April 03, 2017 at 1:04 am

It shouldn't take a State law for the State to do its part in supporting all of its public universities. The universities are doing their part; it's long past time for the State to do its part.