Regents support gov.‘s tax hikes

By Pam Schmidt and Lisa Taylor

SPRINGFIELD—In an effort to gain the money necessary to bring faculty salaries up to the state average level, the Board of Regents Thursday endorsed all proposed tax increases in Gov. James Thompson’s recommended budget for Fiscal Year 1987-88.

Under the tax increase proposal, Thompson recommended the personal state income tax be increased by .5 percent and the personal exemption be increased to $1,500. Also, the present state sales tax rate would be lowered .5 percent to offset an added tax to services.

If passed, the proposal, which includes a 4 percent tuition hike for all Illinois public universities, would be used along with other state revenues to upgrade faculty salaries in the Regency schools.

“We can’t get quality education to the students who need it in the state … we’re not going to keep it (quality) if we don’t pay our faculty what they deserve,” Regent Milton McClure said.

In an effort to put pressure on legislators to pass the increases, the Regents also passed a motion mandating each university write a “comprehensive information campaign encouraging legislative support of revenue enhancement measures.”

Although it will be up to the universities to decide on the specific method of communicating and wording, Regency universities will warn students of a possible 20 percent tuition hike if the 4 percent proposal is rejected.

If passed, the state would be able to offset some higher education expenses by giving money to the Illinois State Scholarship Commission for students receiving monetary awards. Tuition for Regency schools, NIU, Illinois State University and Sangamon State University, would increase by only about $50 if the tax proposal is passed.

Many legislators have publicly aired their grievances concerning the proposal, which is up for a vote in the General Assembly by July.

owever, if lobbying efforts are unsuccessful, the money will have to be paid by the students—something Regents have said they do not want.

“I think it is very important at this time of a fiscal crisis in the state that those who are advising action stand together,” said Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves.

“This is the tuition position taken by other governing boards … it hardly behooves the Board of Regents to break stride with the rest of higher education,” he said.

owever, “if the budget appropriations do not support it (the increase) we will not have to raise tuition up to 20 percent, or a maximum of $120 a semester for full-time students,” McClure said.

Deputy Gov. James Reilly said lobbying efforts would have to begin immediately. “If people back home are not saying to their legislators now, ‘Increase—we desperately need more money and higher education needs are important,’ there won’t be any negotiating sessions.”

“It has been a tradition in this country that one generation invest so that the next could have a better life,” Reilly said. “Education won’t be a lot different for the people who are graduating in June, but it can be for those graduating 10 to 15 years from now.”