U Of Washington Wants State To Lift Freeze On Salaries

Friday, November 9, 2012

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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