State senator proposes bill to limit pay increases for university executives

In response to recent decisions by the UC Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees to increase pay for executives while at the same time voting to increase student tuition and fees, state Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, announced Monday his intent to reintroduce a bill that would prohibit such pay raises during bad budget years.

The bill would prohibit pay increases for the system’s top administrators, including campus presidents and chancellors, in years in which the university’s allocation from the state does not increase.

In previous years, Yee has introduced similar bills, one of which — SB 86 — passed through the state Legislature but was vetoed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“A blanket prohibition limiting the flexibility for the UC and CSU to compete … in attracting and retaining high level personnel does a disservice to those students seeking the kind of quality education that our higher education segments offer,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement to the state Senate announcing his veto of the bill.

In the past, the UC has strongly opposed such bills, stating that it is precisely in tough financial times that the university needs the flexibility to hire and retain strong leadership.

Still, Yee maintains that the universities should seek other ways to manage their funds.

“Time and time again, rather than protecting the needs of students and California families, the Regents and Trustees line the pockets of their top executives,” Yee said in a statement. “While these public administrators are living high on the hog, many Californians are struggling. We deserve better.”

At the July 14 meeting in which the UC Board of Regents decided to raise student fees by 9.6 percent, it also voted to increase the salaries of the head of the UC San Francisco Medical Center Mark Laret, UC Associate Vice President-Chief Strategy Officer Santiago Munoz and Patrick Lenz, the UC vice president of budget and capital resources, by $195,000, $48,600 and $27,500 respectively.

“Most Californians would be surprised to find that a top UC administrator is receiving a significant raise on the same day that students and their families are being asked to give so much more,” said UC Student Association President Claudia Magana in a statement.

Additionally, last week, the CSU Board of Trustees raised fall tuition by 12 percent, on top of a 10 percent increase approved last year, and also awarded the new president of San Diego State University a $400,000 salary — $100,000 more than his predecessor.

“The action taken last week by the Regents and Trustees is appalling and reinforces the perception that they are completely out of touch,” Yee said in a statement.

However, according to the recommendation for the increases, Lenz’s increase stems from the fact that he has taken on extra responsibilities over the past few years due to consolidation efforts of the systemwide Budget Office and Facilities Administration.

Additionally, the recommendation states that Munoz’s salary should be increased because his responsibilities have “greatly expanded” since his initial appointment in 2004.

According to UC spokesperson Steve Montiel, out of the total pay increases approved at the meeting, only $47,440 came from state funds, and the majority of Munoz’s increase came from clinical revenue from the medical center. While all of Lenz’s increase came from state funds, only $19,940 of Munoz’s increase came from state funds.

“It just seems so ironic that the same body that has decreased funding to the university by something like $880 million in the last three years (would propose) to restrict us from having the flexibility to hire and retain people in years when there’s a decrease in funding,” Montiel said.

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.