Bill could request restrictions on salary increases for UC officials

A state senate bill introduced earlier this month could prohibit salary increases for University of California and California State University executives within two years of either tuition increases for students or state budget cuts.

If passed, the bill, authored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D–San Francisco, would also restrict salary increases for incoming executives to a maximum of 5 percent more than the preceding official.

While legally binding for the CSU, the bill only requests that the UC adhere to its provisions due to the UC system’s autonomy from the state legislature.

“With this bill, Sen. Yee hopes to curb high executive compensation, certainly at CSU, and to send a message to UC officials,” said Adam Keigwin, Yee’s chief of staff.

The bill is similar to another bill authored by Yee in 2009. That bill was approved by the legislature but was vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Keigwin said the 2009 bill is similar to the current one in that both forbid salary increases in budget cut years, but the former did not have a provision regarding tuition hikes or the maximum 5 percent rule. He said he thinks the chances of this bill passing are “very good.”

“The officials don’t have nearly the same commitment to having high-paid faculty and maintenance workers and that’s unfortunate,” Keigwin said. “With that said, we’re confident that offering the same position for lower pay would still attract quality people.”

The bill comes at a time of financial strain for both higher education systems. In December, the UC’s budget was slashed by $100 million, bringing the total state cuts for this fiscal year to $750 million. A $200 million cut to both the UC and CSU for fiscal year 2012-13 could be enacted if voters do not approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure in November.

Though unable to comment directly on the bill, UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said that of all state funds and tuition fees, 30 percent goes to pay employees, faculty, staff and executives alike.

“Our compensation practices are fair – we have to invest in the best faculty and best personnel to make UC the best school system in the world,” Klein said. “Our compensation practices are grounded in the realities of a $22 billion-a-year operation that requires sustained investment in people.”