By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday Mar. 4, 2002
UA lobbyists hoping original plan will still stay intact
UA President Peter Likins said the revised pay raise package for state employees approved by the Senate last week would make it harder to retain faculty.
The Arizona Senate approved the plan Thursday. The new version gives a 5 percent raise to workers who make up to $55,000 a year and a 3.5 percent raise to those who make $55,000 to $82,000 a year. Those making more than $82,000 would receive nothing.
Originally, all employees were to receive 5 percent increases.
Likins said his main concern is to increase wages for workers at the lower end of the pay scale, but denying workers at the higher end would complicate problems administrators are already having retaining faculty.
"What disturbs me is that (the Senate plan) cuts at $82,000 - to the people I'm desperately trying to hold," Likins said.
The pay raises were approved by the state Legislature last spring and were expected to be in the hands of workers this April, but lawmakers are now hoping to use the $124 million allocated for the raises to subdue the state deficit.
That move has worried UA officials, who were counting on the raises to boost salaries at the university.
But the Senate's revised package now faces approval from the House, which may decide on the plan by the end of the week.
Greg Fahey, UA vice president of government relations, said the original plan of giving a 5 percent raise to all university workers is still a possibility.
"They may accept it and they may not, but if they don't do anything, we'll have the original plan," Fahey said.
Jenny Rimsza, co-director of Arizona Students' Association - a student lobbyist group - said it is entirely possible that the House could exceed the April 1 deadline.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it drags on," Rimsza said. "Who knows how long it's going to take."
Fahey said House leaders have said the state can't afford the raises at all.
He agreed with Likins, saying the university would continue to lose prize faculty to other states due to salary constraints, but the revised plan would only affect 865 workers who are on the higher end of the pay bracket and the majority of UA employees would be covered.