Governor urged to stop pay hikes

Chrystal King

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The California Faculty Association is urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign two bills, AB 1413 and SB 190, which would regulate further pay increases for CSU executives.

California State University trustees recently approved executive pay increases ranging from 9 percent to 18 percent. The CFA, which represents more than 23,000 CSU professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches, said the Board of Trustees also supports a 40 percent pay increase for these executives throughout the next four years.

SB 190, developed by state California Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, focuses on requiring all discussions about executive pay to be open to the public. AB 1413, which was developed by state assembly member Anthony Portantino, takes things a step further, indicating exactly how much executives can be paid.

Lillian Taiz, president of the CFA and professor of history at Cal State L.A., said these recent pay increases send the wrong message to the legislature, considering that the board of trustees is asking for money for classes and classrooms.

“It’s embarrassing to all of us when these exposes come forward and we discover that our own leaders are doing what they’re doing,” said Taiz during a teleconference with CSU student reporters. “It’s hardly the moment to be raising pay. It’s inappropriate and shows lack of sophistication.”

Taiz said it’s very likely that students will see tuition increases throughout the next four years as well.

“Tuition has increased 10 percent every year since 2002 through the compact,” Taiz said.

Known as the Higher Education Compact, this six-year plan was agreed to and put into effect in the 2005-06 academic year and will continue until 2010. The compact indicates a “2.5 percent annual enrollment growth through 2010-11, ensuring educational opportunities for an additional 8,000 CSU students,” the CSU Web site shows. Taiz said the compact doesn’t require fees to be increased 10 percent, which is actually the maximum amount by which fees can be increased.

“The executive pay increases and tuition increases are not directly correlated,” said Brian Ferguson, communications specialist for the CFA. “There’s no section that states tuition increases are going towards pay increases, but you don’t have to be a physicist to figure out that they’re related.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with the pay increase or the tuition increases,” said senior Carla Mills. “I’m sure the president went through college and paid her dues and tuition just like us to get where she is today. She deserves this.”

“We might be paying more, but we’re benefiting,” Mills said. “We can go to the doctor for free. We get free concerts. They always try to make up for (tuition increases) in a lot of ways that students just don’t realize.”

“If the raise were across the board and at a decent percentage, then I could understand it,” said senior Lorie Lewis. “But the fact that they are increasing executive pay with no justification is ridiculous.”

Schwarzenegger has until Friday, Oct. 12 to sign the two proposed bills.

SB 190 would allow the public to be more involved in these types of decisions, said Adam Keigwin, Yee’s press secretary.

“This last pay hike was done in the public, but there have been instances in the past where they haven’t been,” Keigwin said.

If the bill were signed into law, complimentary packages and pay increases for executives would have to be accompanied with rationale and justification.

“The bill will also require for the public to be allowed to comment during the discussion,” Keigwin said. “During this last pay hike, the public was only permitted to comment after the vote, which is pretty much meaningless.

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