Topeka If Gov. Joan Finney gets her way, all Kansas University employees will be getting small raises this year.
In the fiscal 1993 budget Finney delivered to the Kansas Legislature today, she requested a 2.5 percent pay increase for faculty and staff and for students working on campus.
Finney said in an interview Monday that the proposed raises should be sufficient to retain and hire qualified university employees.
"I have to say this about the people I know who are on the various campuses, they are very dedicated people. I believe it will be enough," she said.
The governor said she will do everything she can to avoid laying off state employees. Layoffs have occurred in other states hit by recession.
Reaction to Finney's proposal from local legislators and KU faculty and staff was mixed.
"IS IT enough? It probably is not," said Rep. John Solbach, D-Lawrence. "If that's all we can do, I'm sure university administrators will be pulling their hair out."
"It's better than nothing," said David Frayer, chair of KU's anthropology department. "I think this is something of a surprise to the administration. They have been singing the blues for quite a while. But over the past three years we've had an average 2 percent increase in wages, which is pathetic.''
KU Chancellor Gene Budig said state university officials will work with the Legislature in an effort to improve the compensation package.
"Our faculty and staff, for instance, clearly deserve more," Budig said. "It is basically a matter of our remaining competitive."
Rep. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, said it might be difficult to hold the line at 2.5 percent, because some lawmakers will attempt to reduce budget increases for universities.
"WHILE 2.5 PERCENT is not the best of all possible worlds, I think it's going to be pretty difficult to ask for anything else," she said.
Finney's budget provides 2.5 percent more funding for merit raises for university faculty. Budig requested a 5 percent raise.
The governor's proposal "isn't what we need to push the boundaries of competitiveness, particularly of faculty salaries," said Sen. Wint Winter Jr., R-Lawrence.
"I don't think it's enough for faculty or classified workers. Everybody knows it's not enough," said Rep. Betty Jo Charlton, D-Lawrence.
For classified (civil service) staff, Finney wants to finance a 2.5 percent boost in the pay scale and longevity bonuses for people who have worked for the state more than 10 years. She didn't recommend a cost-of-living adjustment.
Budig made no recommendation on classified staff salaries, which is traditionally the case. The KU Classified Senate asked for the pay-scale adjustment, longevity bonuses and a 7 percent cost-of-living increase.
"We did want to get something to make up for the last year, when we had no COLA despite inflation," said Peggy Baker, president of KU Classified Senate.
SHE SAID she hopes the state's revenues pick up and allow the state to improve on the governor's budget recommendations.
"A major concern is classified staff no COLA," Winter said.
He said some state classified employees won't qualify for a step increase or longevity pay. Without a cost-of-living adjustment, those employees don't get a raise, he said.
"It means with absolute certainty that some will have a decrease in buying power," Solbach said.
Finney proposed a corresponding 2.5 percent increase in the money available to pay students working on campus. Budig wanted twice that amount.
Budig said that since 1990, the federal minimum wage has increased 26 percent, but the amount of money from the state for student salaries hasn't changed. That's led to a reduction in the amount of job opportunities KU can offer its student hourly workers, he said.
James Muyskens, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he sympathizes with the governor's position.
"A 2.5 percent raise would not be exhilarating, but I do understand the tightness of budgets not only in Kansas but across the country," he said.
Carl Locke, dean of the KU School of Engineering, said faculty raises below 3 percent would cause KU salaries to fall further behind selected "peer" universities.
"This will be the third year in a row with a 2-3 percent salary increase," he said. "One of the repercussions of that is that we will start losing good people."