U salaries should rise with rest of the state

While University staff members are employed by the state, they do not enjoy the same budget process as the majority of state employees. Most state departments send requests for salary increases based on inflation to the Department of Revenue, which passes them along to the Finance Department, where the appropriations are handled. The current proposed increase for most state employees is 3 percent, an amount approved by the Legislature but taken from the general budget. In order to get this same pay increase, the University must include the necessary funds in its biennial budget proposal. The state should use the same process to give all employees cost-of-living adjustments.
The 2000-01 Biennial Budget Proposal for the University asks for a total of $95.9 million for competitive compensation. This includes a 3 percent increase as base compensation for all University staff and an additional 2 percent increase to attract high quality professors in disciplines with widespread recruiting challenges, such as computer technology classes.
The higher education bill being considered in the House and Senate has included a pay raise for faculty members in different capacities. The House bill allows for a 3 percent pay increase for faculty whereas the Senate bill only gives a 2 percent pay increase.
The entire higher education bill proposed by the Senate would not even cover the inflation increase proposed by University President Mark Yudof that made up 48 percent of the total University budget proposal. The current Senate bill would give the University a budget of $82.6 million for all operations — $13.3 million less than the amount included in the budget proposal just for salary increases. Not only does this bill not give Yudof the money needed to compensate current employees and attract new employees, but it also affects the rest of the budget. The competitive compensation request is the largest part of the proposal. If it were taken off the budget and separately requested like in other state departments, the University could work on projects such as the undergraduate initiative and connecting the University to the community.
The current system has a negative effect on the University’s budget proposal. When most government departments ask for an inflation increase for their employees, it is for that specific reason. The University’s request for this money has to be included in the budget proposal that also covers many other important University monetary issues. Since staff salary increases must be included in the complete budget, the request appears more bloated than it really is.
Moreover, how the funds are spent once they have been allocated to the University is left solely to the discretion of the Board of Regents. The University is under no obligation to spend a portion of the budget on increased compensation. Indeed, employee salaries frequently do not receive full increases because funds are needed elsewhere.
Why should University employees be treated differently than other state employees? The state should give inflation increase raises to their employees across the board. If the University did not have to worry about this money in the budget, the funds it receives would be more useful.