In a statement released Tuesday, Kansas Board of Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer called a decision by the House Appropriations Committee to reduce state university employee pay by 7.5 percent "unfair and unnecessary." President Steve Scott struck the same theme in a message to the campus community.
Sherrer was responding to the committee's approval of a measure that would reduce all state employee salaries and wages by 7.5 percent through June 30. It also ends a pay program designed to bring the wages of some state employees in line with their counterparts in the private sector. That plan was adopted by the Legislature in 2007.
A provision of the plan passed by the House committee would earmark half of the savings to be used by the Board of Regents to fund deferred maintenance projects on the six university campuses.
"We're concerned by the committee's action," Sherrer said, "which is simply unfair and unnecessary. Removing dollars from the paychecks (that) hard-working university employees depend upon, and then spending those dollars on building maintenance, doesn't result in any savings to the state. We call upon the Legislature and the Governor to reject this unnecessary and unfair proposal."
President Scott said the proposal would do "little to improve the state's financial situation" and it comes at a time when faculty and staff are serving growing numbers of students.
In his message to the campus, Scott wrote, "Today, our faculty and staff are serving more students with fewer financial resources than ever before. It is unfair to place an additional burden upon you and your families. I join the Kansas Board of Regents in calling upon the Legislature and the Governor to reject this proposal."
The bill will now go to the House for consideration by the entire body. Meanwhile, the Senate is considering a spending plan of its own. Both bills would have to be reconciled and approved by both chambers before going to Gov. Brownback for his signature.
The president reminded the campus that it is still relatively early in the legislative process.
"As we all know, the legislative process always has its twists and turns," Scott wrote. "It's important to remember that this is simply a proposal and has been approved only at the committee level. Many things must happen for it to become a reality."
The president said it is important for faculty and staff to stay abreast of the discussion in Topeka around the budget and other issues affecting higher education. He promised to communicate regularly with the campus as events unfold in the Legislature and said he expects to conduct open campus forums similar to those he led in 2010 as the legislative session moves forward.