Phil Matier: Bill To Cap Cal State University Salaries Taps Popular Anger

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – A state senator has proposed capping the pay of California State University campus presidents and holding their salary negotiations in public.

Sen. Ted Lieu said he was frustrated the CSU trustees recently approved a 12 percent fee hike at the same meeting where a new campus president was hired for San Diego at a salary $100,000 more than his predecessor.

KCBS And Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

Only San Jose State University President Mohammad Qayoumi and 2 others make more than the salary limit set in the Los Angeles County Democrat’s bill.

Lieu proposed setting the maximum pay at 150 percent of the salary paid to the California Supreme Court Justice, who now earns $228,856. That would set a limit of $343,269. Qayoumi grosses about $10,000 more than that ceiling.

University officials have defended the salaries as necessary to attract top talent who might be lured by sweeter offers from well-heeled private colleges, noting that such positions typically pay around $300,000.

CSU officials told the Chronicle one provision of Lieu’s bill, mandating that CSU employees and California residents be given preference over applicants from out of state, would take away their flexibility in hiring. They noted that 9 of the current 23 campus presidents were promoted from within CSU.

Lieu’s bill would also bar presidential pay raises or bonuses if tuition had gone up in the previous two years or was slated to rise the following year.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said Lieu was trying to tap into the anger felt by both CSU and University of California students that administrators keep getting raises even as the cost of a public education in California keeps climbing.

“Leland Yee did this earlier,” Matier said, using the issue as a way to appeal to parents and young voters in the San Francisco mayor’s race.

Matier compared the growing outrage over university administrator salaries to term limits and property taxes, two issues were the slow pace of reform in Sacramento led to voter initiatives that sidestepped lawmakers inertia.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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