U Of Washington Wants State To Lift Freeze On Salaries

Ann McClure's picture

Saying it cannot keep salaries frozen any longer, the University of Washington plans to ask the Legislature to lift a pay freeze on university employees and to help pick up some of the tab on an increase — as much as $75 million over two years.

Although some legislators are sympathetic, it's unclear whether the state could afford such a boost, or whether it would be willing to exempt universities. Washington is already anticipating a shortfall of at least $1 billion for the 2013-15 biennium.

The university made "an urgent request for salary flexibility this biennium" in a letter it sent to the Office of Financial Management earlier this year, as part of its biennial operating-budget request. The UW's Board of Regents will discuss the salary request at a board meeting Thursday.

The letter is not a formal request for state support, and the compensation scenario could change. In it, the university outlined two scenarios: One would give consecutive 2 percent raises in 2013 and 2014, and the other would give consecutive 5 percent raises over the same period. The 2 percent raise would cost $31 million, the 5 percent raise nearly $75 million.

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