Higher-education officials think "truth-in-advertising" has gone out the window with the Legislature's salary package.
At issue is the 5 percent compensation package for faculty/staff and other state workers. The 5 percent package, which was originally proposed in the governor's budget, was also contained in the budget recommendations of the Joint Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. The powerful Executive Appropriations Committee accepted those recommendations late Friday.But shortly before midnight Friday, after the higher-education officials had gone home, Executive Appropriations agreed that the compensation package for all state workers should be 5 percent in theory but that there is only enough money to fund a 4.5 percent compensation package.
"This is a truth-in-labeling issue," University of Utah President Chase N. Peterson said Monday. "We can't go to the faculty and say it's 5 percent when it's only 4.5 percent. The amount of the raise is insufficient, but if there is is deception involved, that's totally wrong."
"It's pretense. It's done with mirrors," Utah State University President Stanford Cazier added.
Peterson, during a subcommittee's meeting to shore up its request for supplemental appropriations, challenged legislators about the 4.5 percent package.
Co-chairmen, Sen. Dix McMullin, R-South Jordan, and Rep. James Yardley, R-Panguitch, were surprised. They too had left before the executive committee's adjournment, thinking compensation would be 5 percent.
Later Monday night, during the supplementals presentation to Executive Appropriations, it was McMullin's turn to challenge the 4.5 percent compensation package.
Yes, said co-chairman LeRay McAllister, R-Orem, the approval was for 5 percent but there is only money for 4.5 percent. The 5 percent increase can be given if the higher-education institutions can find the additional funds in their budgets.
When 0.5 percent, or $1.45 million, is backed out of the higher-education budget, higher education is treated unfairly because the subcommittee funded programs and salaries to $22.8 million figure as directed by the legislative fiscal analyst, McMullin said. The subcommittee should be allowed to put that extra money back into programs, he told the committee.
Committee fiscal analyst Marion Whittwer said the analyst's office didn't give the subcommittees a set funding number that included a compensation package and that the other subcommittees left compensation to Executive Appropriations. That "extra" money isn't really there for higher education, he said.
"If we were to adjust yours, we'll have to come back and adjust all of others. . . . Your budget is right on target," McAllister said.
"The budget is short, " McMullin replied.
The committee told fiscal analysts and higher-education officials to go over the figures, resolving the numbers disagreement. The budget will be adjusted if higher education has been treated unfairly, members decided.
But higher education didn't have long to fantasize about spending more gold. In the hallway outside the committee room, Boyd Garriott, legislative fiscal analyst for higher education, said an increase of $22.8 million isn't higher education's share of the new program money. That is $7.4 million for programs and only would have reached $22.8 million if a 5 percent compensation package had been approved, he said.