Kansas University faculty will get raises averaging about $2,000 next fiscal year, if the Legislature doesn't shift course.
State legislators today expressed confidence that employees at Kansas University and other Board of Regents' universities will get the pay raise they wanted.
University officials, regents and Gov. Bill Graves asked the 1995 Legislature for a 3.5 percent raise for state employees next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"It surprises me, but it's still there," said Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence.
Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said most people anticipated the Legislature would pass a smaller raise for state workers, perhaps 2.5 percent.
"It would take a concerted effort by the Senate or the governor to reduce it at this time," said Rep. Troy Findley, D-Lawrence.
The Legislature returned today to the Capitol for its scheduled three-day wrap-up session. The pay increase for state workers is one of the key unresolved issues.
The salary package carries a hefty price tag: $32.8 million.
KU Chancellor Del Shankel said the Legislature should at least award state employees a pay raise that matched inflation.
"I think 3.5 percent would be tolerable," he said.
Sloan said other issues -- proposed vehicle tax reductions or possible discontinuation of the state lottery -- wouldn't distort the salary picture.
"I don't think that is a problem this year," he said. "In the long term, we have to worry about tax reductions translating to lower spending."
Graves' proposal would provide a 2.5 percent pay increase for state employees in the civil service system to compensate them for another year in their jobs. They would receive an additional 1 percent increase as a cost-of-living adjustment.
State employees not in the civil service would receive an average raise of 3.5 percent, but increases would be merit-based.
Praeger said there is some sentiment to peel off 1 percent of the proposed salary increase and use it to bolster the operating budgets of state universities.