Bill Aims to Open Exec. Pay Meetings
February 20, 2007 10:12 PM
California State Senator Leland Yee hopes to shed some light on the CSU Board of Trustees use of funds.
Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) recently proposed a bill that would expose how much of taxpayers' money goes to CSU administrators by mandating that all Board meetings pertaining to executive compensation be open to the public.
Yee publicly announced the bill, SB 190, earlier this month at a gathering of SF State faculty union picketers that cheered the proposed legislation.
"You can't begin to understand why this is such a serious issue," he said. "This bill, it is the bedrock of our democracy to have transparency in our government."
The senator's office portrayed SB 190 as a chance for true, open dialogue because it will also guarantee meeting time for public comments.
"For too long the UC and CSU has been acting in secrecy when it comes to determining high-level salaries," said Yee in a press release. "SB 190 will bring much needed sunshine to these discussions."
On March 14, the bill, which includes the University of California's Board of Regents and the California State University’s Board of Trustees, will be presented to the Senate's Committee on Education for review.
The original version of the bill applied to only UC executives. The Senate Appropriation Committee, who decides how taxpers' funds are spent, did not pass the bill that was introduced a year ago.
The university system aggressively lobbied against the bill then, fearing it would harm the process by which they hire executives. But the spokesperson for Lee's office said that that is not the case.
"We are not looking to have job performance or resume out there in the public, not any type of personal information," Yee’s press secretary Adam Keigwin said.
Yee's office is confident the bill will pass this time since a sweep of Democratic victories in the November election changed the legislative landscape. Former Assembly member Yee emerged as a Senator and political ally Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch) became the new chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee.
No public announcements have been made regarding the Cal State response to the bill. Although, a representative said that could come in a week's time.
"We feel (the executive pay) is a process that is open and transparent and open to the public," said Karen Zamarripa, Assistant Vice Chancellor of the CSU's Office of Governmental Affairs.
"The CSU likes to compensate all its employees at similar rates to what their counterparts are paid at similar universities. In fact, our school presidents have been underpaid."
A 2004 report by the California Postsecondary Education Commission stated that the average CSU president made $82,068 less than the national average, which was $299,132.
Since then, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger worked to close the gap of 37.8 percent, with SF State President Robert Corrigan's recent four percent salary increase bringing him up to $271,590.
Faculty members at the CFA rally thanked Yee for introducing the bill, adding that the overall heart of the issue was what they called "bloated" executive salaries.
"The CSU administration has stolen the money from the faculty, raised students' fees to make millionaires out of executives," SF State faculty union President Linda Ellis told the crowd with a fist in the air. "Hell, they are stealing from everybody!"
The new bill can be found through http://www.sen.ca.gov/.
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