Start cuts at the top

The University should cut the highest salaries before freezing everyone’s.

by Daily Editorial Board

This month, many University of Minnesota employees received a scheduled 2 percent pay raise that had already been delayed six months. However, salaries could be frozen again or reduced as soon as next year. Those employees already took a 1.15 percent pay cut or its equivalent last year; they should not be forced to take cuts again.
University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter says the University is âÄúcertainly consideringâÄù a salary freeze. This is a regressive and unfair way to balance next yearâÄôs budget.  
An administrator whose frozen salary is still $100,000 or $200,000 per year might not notice the freeze, but it makes a huge difference in the lives of those making significantly less.
Furthermore, a salary freeze would be extremely hypocritical when the position of University president has received a raise of 34 percent, from President Bob BruininksâÄô current salary of $455,000 to President-designate Eric KalerâÄôs salary of $610,000. Giving the president such a massive raise while telling other employees that they must make do would be a vivid and blatant display of hypocrisy.
But an across-the-board salary freeze is more than bad symbolism, it is also bad policy. Freezing the salary of lower-level employees is simply not as effective as the same measures on upper-level employees. For example, if Kaler reduced his salary to $455,000, the savings could offset a 1.15 percent pay cut for about 270 employees making $50,000 per year.
Before the University institutes an across-the-board salary freeze, it needs to ask its higher-paid employees to take pay cuts so that the University does not balance the budget on the backs of its poorest employees.