ISU Trustees Mull Over State Pension, Health Care Shifts | WGLT

ISU Trustees Mull Over State Pension, Health Care Shifts

Feb 16, 2018

A new proposal from Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address could force universities to pick up more of the cost of pensions and health insurance for Illinois State employees.

ISU's Director of Government Relations Jonathan Lackland said the total statewide cost would be $206 million for fiscal year 2019. The total breaks down to $101 million for pensions and $105 million for health care.

"The funding would be provided through the Board of Higher Education, and it's currently unclear if it would be allocated to each university based upon their individual increased cost," Lackland said.

If approved, the university could potentially cut program funding or raise tuition to make up the difference. President Larry Dietz said the university is still studying the state's budget proposal delivered Wednesday to gauge the impact it will have on ISU.

Fine Arts Complex

Rauner's budget proposal did include two bits of good news for ISU. It includes $61.9 million for the fine arts complex. That's the same amount that was appropriated in 2010 and released in 2013, but was held up by the budget impasse, said ISU spokesperson Rachel Hatch.

"We’re glad to see it back in the budget proposal, and hope the University receives the much-needed funds," Hatch said.

ISU has spent $6.5 million on maintaining the Center for Visual Arts and Centennial East since 2013. Dietz said he expects the university to spend an additional $3 million this year to keep the buildings habitable.

"As convenor of the Illinois Presidents and Chancellors of Public Universities group and the president of this university, I vow to you that I will continue to work to bring appropriate levels of funding to public universities across the state and Illinois State University in particular," Dietz said.

The governor announced plans to add $100 million in capital funds to meet deferred maintenance needs at universities and community colleges.

Illinois State has $400 million in deferred maintenance projects. Backlogged state funding for maintenance to all public universities and community colleges exceed $5 billion.

Other Business

Several buildings at Illinois State will undergo maintenance and repairs over summer. Wilkins residence hall on the west side will have exterior repairs and curtain walls replaced, and the Watterson Towers residence hall will get upgraded fire alarms.

The Fell and Williams Hall academic buildings will receive renovated international student program spaces and classroom repair. Funding for projects comes from bond reserves and university funds.

Illinois State's new recreational facility will be named the Redbird Adventure Center. The space will offer outdoor activities, like rope climbing, for both the ISU and surrounding communities.

The ISU Board of Trustees will now allow 30 minutes for public comment, with each participant given five minutes to speak. Speakers can sign up for public comment prior to the meeting.

Trustees have also approved replacing turf at Hancock Stadium this spring. Existing turf was installed in 2007. Funding for the replacement comes from athletic and recreation facilities reserves.

ISU will continue utilizing Aetna Health Insurance for students in the 2018-2019 school year. Rates are going up 5.2 percent.

ISU will also continue its relationship with Securitas, the unarmed campus security service. The contract with the company has increased to $2 million, up from $1.9 million. Funding for the service comes from the auxiliary facilities system operating revenues. 

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.