Rep. Phillips Advances University Cost-Savings Measure

Rep. Phillips presents House Bill 3973 to the House Higher Education Committee
To help Illinois universities weather the ongoing state financial crisis, State Representative Reggie Phillips today advanced legislation in the Illinois House that would ensure that state funding is not spent on speaking fees and other expenses for commencement speakers. Representative Phillips (R-Charleston) stressed that with limited state funds available, universities should make sure all dollars provided directly benefit students’ education.

“Our state financial situation is dire, and next year’s budget is going to be very tight, including our funding for our colleges and universities. I want them to be able to weather this financial storm with as little impact as possible to students, faculty and staff;  and finding other sources to pay for commencement speakers frees up state funding they receive for more necessary expenses,” Phillips said.

Phillips noted that universities here in Illinois and in other states routinely spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on speaking fees and travel expenses for commencement speakers. His House Bill 3973 passed by the House Higher Education Committee Wednesday would prohibit Illinois colleges and universities that receive state funding from using those dollars to pay for commencement speakers.

“There are many other avenues universities can explore,” Phillips added.. “Oftentimes, successful alumni will agree to speak at their alma mater for free. If a fee is required, private funds and donations from alumni can be sought to cover costs.”

“When funds are tight, we need to set strong priorities for the dollars that are available. Simply put, paying for a costly commencement speaker is not the best priority for limited state taxpayer funds,” Phillips said.

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