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For the Week of July 18, 2011

The governing boards of both the University of California and the California State University (CSU) last week hiked their executives’ pay while raising student tuition. In both cases, tuition costs will have doubled in the last 4–6 years.

students protest fee hikes
UC students protesting fee hikes

The UC regents raised tuition by 9.6 percent (on top of an 8 percent increase previously approved) and gave the UCSF medical center chief nearly $200,000 in pay increases, bringing his yearly “base” salary to $935,000. But wait, there’s more: he also got a “retention bonus” of $1 million over four years.  Other top UC administrators also got raises.

Four UC regents of 18 opposed the tuition hike, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a regent because of his elective office. "Here we are putting once again a nail in the coffin of the middle class because that's who gets hurt," said Newsom. 

CSU’s board approved total compensation of about $400,000 for the incoming president of San Diego State -- about $100,000 more than his predecessor earned – while hiking student tuition 12%. California governor Jerry Brown sent CSU’s president a letter objecting to the move. “The assumption is that you cannot find a qualified man or woman to lead the university unless paid twice that of the Chief Justice of the United States,” wrote Brown. “I reject this notion. At a time when the state is closing its courts, laying off public school teachers and shutting senior centers, it is not right to be raising the salaries of leaders who -- of necessity -- must demand sacrifice from everyone else.”

Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) called the moves by both university systems “appalling” and pledged to reintroduce legislation prohibiting pay raises for top administrators during bad budget years. A similar bill won bipartisan support in the California legislature in 2009, only to be vetoed by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Two other legislators are working on similar bills.

In the meanwhile, three proposed ballot initiatives have been filed in California to end collective bargaining for public employees, and a California Senate Republican proposal would increase the amount public employees pay toward their pensions.
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