As UC system braces for $500 million in proposed budget cuts, regents award pay hikes

The University of California’s regents meeting last week stirred up quite a bit of controversy as the regents approved $4 million in bonuses and pay hikes for UC employees, including some of the UC system’s most highly paid employees, current and new.

For example, three UC headquarters employees will be awarded 10 percent increases, bringing their pay up to between $216,370 and $247,500.  At UC Berkeley, the new vice chancellor for administration and finance will earn a base salary of $375,000 – nine percent higher than the midpoint of $344,000 earned by colleagues at other universities. The chief financial officer of the hospital system at UCLA will receive a 10.5 percent raise, bringing the salary up to $420,000. 

The move was resoundly criticized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees representing the low-wage UC employees (custodians, groundskeepers and patient care workers among others making less than $40,000), charging that these workers are facing layoffs as well as increased costs for their pensions, retirement contributions and health care costs.

The approval of the increased compensation came just one day after UC President Mark Yudof told the regents that painful budget choices would have to be made over the next few months to close the UC system’s $1 billion budget gap. Layoffs, course reductions, and the shutting out some of the state’s most qualified students – a mover never before taken by the University system (UC accepts the top 12.5 percent of California high school graduates) – are on the table.

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Yudof said that:

     “It may be program closings, it may be layoffs. Each campus is in the process of figuring out where to cut. We are long past the time when we can just cut the fat.”

Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a $500 million cut to the University of California’s public education system in an effort to close the state’s $24.5 billion deficit for 2011-2012. UC has already imposed double-digit tuition increases on its students over the past few years and has been seeking out-of state students to help boost revenue.

NOTE: Under the Governor’s plan, the California State University system will also face a $500 million cut, and the state’s community college system is facing $432.5 million in cuts. K-12 education funding was spared for the time being.