Proposal raises concern

By Brian Slupski

An early-retirement proposal being considered by the Illinois General Assembly could be voted on this week or put off until the spring session.

Faculty Senate President J. Carroll Moody said he received support for the proposal from many administrators, including NIU President John La Tourette and Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves.

However, Moody said “concerns had been raised which have muddied the waters” and “the proposal would probably be put off to the spring session.”

Under the proposal, a faculty member wanting early retirement can “buy” years of service to retire. That means a 50-year-old faculty members could buy five years and retire with an early-retirememnt penalty or buy ten years and retire without penalty.

If the bill were passed, a slew of professors would leave NIU in a short amount of time.

The cost to buy the years would be 4 percent of the person’s base salary.

NIU President John La Tourette expressed concern over possible effects the proposal could have on NIU’s already perilous budget situation.

When university employees retire, they might have sick or vacation time which has not been used. The university must pay the employees for this unused time.

“If the proposal passes, most of the impact of sick and vacation time (paying that time off) would be felt this fiscal year,” La Tourette said. “Estimates have put the number of eligible employees at 1,200.”

He said conservative estimates have 25 percent of those eligible retiring, possibly costing NIU upwards of $3 million in buyouts of sick and vacation time.

Other estimates have around 40 percent of those eligible retiring, which could cost the university $4.5 million in owed time.

Retirement plans have been a controversial topic throughout the semester. Some faculty members have shown concern that the state may run out of money used to pay university retirees.