Tax bill to affect higher education

By James krause

DeKALB — Anna Quider, NIU Government Relations director, spoke to Faculty Senate Wednesday about pressing issues in Washington D.C. that have an effect on higher education.

Quider, who spoke via Skype from the nation’s capital, talked about a likely vote on a tax bill in the U.S. Senate and its differences from a previously passed bill by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“They have a number of things that are in common, but for higher education, there have some pretty stark differences,” Quider said.

Quider talked about how the Senate Bill H.R. 1, which she said could be on the floor as early as Friday, would affect operational costs at the university and lower incentives for charitable donations.

“Both bills would double the standard deduction,” Quider said. “When you double the standard deduction, it will significantly reduce the number of people who are incentivised to give a charitable donation to a non-profit because they will have that tax exemption.”

Quider said another provision both the House and Senate bills share is a change to athletics.

“Currently in athletics, there is a special rule that allows for 80 percent of the cost of the right to rent a season ticket to be a charitable deduction to the university,” Quider said. “That would be eliminated in both bills.”

If both bills are passed, members of Congress will have to determine which legislation to send to President Donald Trump.

Quider also talked about how the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program may be affecting federal fiscal budget talks. She said Democrats would be willing to force a government shutdown if the program is not upheld. President Trump ordered the end of the program Sept. 5 and called on Congress to come up with a replacement for the program.

“Some Democrats are pushing that in order to get their vote for this year-end spending package, they would have to include a fix for DACA,” Quider said. “A number of Democrats have said that they are willing to go to the bat and force a government shutdown over this.”

Acting President Lisa Freeman voiced NIU’s support for its DACA students earlier this semester in an email.

“To our undocumented students: You belong at NIU,” Freeman said in the Sept. 5 email. “We want you here, and we are prepared to help you navigate how to continue on your educational journey.”

Presidential search

Three members of the Faculty Senate were nominated to represent the shared governance group on the Presidential Search Planning Committee that will set up the search for a permanent president of the university following former President Doug Baker’s resignation.

Kendall Thu, chairman of the Department of Anthropology, Katy Jaekel, higher education assistant professor, and George Slotsve, economics associate professor, were the three nominated by senators to serve on the committee.

The search for a new president is set to take place next fall.