Rep. Wehrli: C.O.D. Bill “Important First Step” Toward Fiscal Accountability

State Representative Grant Wehrli said final legislative passage Thursday much-needed controls on Community College administrators’ contracts and severance agreements is an important first step to ensuring transparency and accountability in the colleges’ spending of taxpayer dollars.

“Spending abuses at the College of DuPage have been widely reported in recent months. They’re certainly not the only ones in the state abusing the system, but they’re a perfect example of why we need to put some common-sense protections in place,” Rep. Wehrli said.

By an overwhelming majority, the House Thursday concurred with a minor Senate amendment to House Bill 3593, clearing the bill’s path to the Governor for his signature. The measure, initiated by Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), limits rolling contracts with administrators and others not collectively-bargained to three years. Contracts with specific start and end dates are limited to four years. The contracts must be renewed or extended during an open meeting of the Community College Board.

In response to the recent $763,000 contract buyout approved by College of DuPage Trustees for President Robert Breuder, House Bill 3593 also places reasonable limits on severance packages of one year’s salary and benefits.

“Most Community College presidents in Illinois make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. A three or four year contract with one year’s severance is more than generous,” Rep. Wehrli said.  “Representative Ives worked very hard on this legislation to bring both accountability and transparency to the contract process so local taxpayers will be informed and have a say in what they’re being obligated to pay.”

Representative Wehrli said additional measures passed by lawmakers this spring to address fiscal abuses at the College of DuPage and push increased transparency and accountability in community college finances include House Resolution 55 (Ives) that would allow for a comprehensive fiscal audit at the College of DuPage, and House Bill 303 (McDermed) that ensures severance agreements paid with public funds are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.

“Collectively, these measures are a great start. But we still have much more work ahead of us to ensure local taxpayers’ interests are protected,” Representative Wehrli said