Bill to Limit Size and Scope of Community College Severance Agreements Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) that limits the size and scope of community college buyout packages and severance agreements, and limits the length of employment contracts has passed in the Illinois House and Senate and now moves to the Governor’s desk to be signed.

In response to the $763,000 contract buyout approved by College of DuPage Trustees for President Dr. Robert Breuder earlier this year, Ives carried HB3593, which would limit the amount of future agreements to no more than one year of salary and benefits. “The agreement that the majority of the COD trustees approved for their underperforming president was excessive and not in the best interest of the taxpayers who fund the college,” said Ives. “I would have liked to have been able to roll back his agreement, but at least moving forward there will be taxpayer protections in place.”

The bill limits employment contracts with a set start and end date to no more than four years with no provision for any automatic rollover clauses. “First, I would like to thank College of DuPage Board President Kathy Hamilton for bringing this to my attention, and Senator Connelly for his help in getting this bill through the Senate,” said Ives.

“Long-term contracts have become problematic in instances where an employee is underperforming and a change needs to be made,” Ives said. “It is important to note that the Senate Democrat Caucus commissioned an investigative report on executive compensation in the State’s Higher Education system that clearly pointed out that compensation, total cost of severance, contract length and tenure needed to be addressed statewide. While more work needs to be done, this legislation is a step in the right direction.”

Ives has been the leading force in the House of Representatives in responding to allegations of malfeasance at the College of DuPage. In addition to HB3593, Ives was also the Chief Sponsor of the unanimously-approved HR55, which directs the Illinois Auditor General to conduct a thorough performance audit of all State moneys provided to the College of DuPage for fiscal years 2007-2014.

In addition to Ives’ HB3593 and HR55, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) also took aim at the College of DuPage this year by sponsoring HB303, which adds transparency to publicly-funded severance agreements by making them subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). “Given all that has come to light about the financial mismanagement at the College of DuPage and other government institutions, public trust has eroded,” said McDermed. “Taxpayers have the absolute right to know how their money is being spent, especially when that money accompanies the departure of a government employee.”

Shortly after the successful vote on HB3593, Ives spoke about the importance of the taxpayer protections included in her bill. You can listen to that interview here.