Patt Morrison for August 19, 2011

UC opts out of public salary database & gives $140 million in raises: justifiable or egregious?

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California state controller John Chiang with Jerry Brown during a briefing on the state budget in 2010 in Sacramento, California. The UC system is opting out of the controller's public pay database.

In the era of austerity, where spending on government programs from military to the education is being scaled back, giving out raises to public employees just doesn’t look very good. It also doesn’t look great to withhold the salaries of those employees from a public database that is meant to promote transparency. But the University of California has justification for both actions, both of which they have done in the past two days. Yesterday UC announced $140 million in raises for nonunion employees across the system, as part of routine annual merit increases that the UC argues is necessary to retain top notch university workers. This morning UC said they were opting-out of participating in a public database of salaries, organized by State Controller John Chiang in an effort to bring transparency to the pay of all public employees. The reasons UC won’t provide salary data to the controller: it can’t afford to arrange for detailed salary information in the way the controller wants it, plus the UC already maintains a list of salary employees. The controller’s database has participation from every other state agency, from cities to counties to irrigation districts and the California State University system; the UC system is the only state agency that has not complied. Are raises justifiable when students have been asked to pay several years of increasing tuitions; is opting-out of a salary database justifiable if UC says they can’t afford to pull it together?

Guests:

Amanda Buchanan, chair of the Student Union Assembly of UC Santa Cruz; board member of the UC Student Association

John Chiang, controller, State of California

Steve Montiel, media relations director for the University of California


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