TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) – When it comes to fixing budget shortfalls, some high earners at the University of Arizona should cut their pay.
That suggestion comes from one of the school’s highest paid employees, University of Arizona Provost Meredith Hay, who earns more than $100,000 a year.
The number of employees making more than six figures at the UA has increased 45 percent since 2005 while costs of paying those workers jumped 53 percent, according to an Arizona Daily Star analysis.
Officials acknowledge there are more employees earning more than $100,000 in what they call the reality of the highly competitive academic market and a product of growth in programs such as the UA’s medical school in Phoenix.
They add it’s not as if those workers are getting raises at the expense of lower-paid staffers.
It costs the UA $76 million to pay 2,323 workers who earn less than $50,000 a year and account for nearly half of all state-paid employees.
It also costs about $71 million to pay the 568 employees making more than $100,000.
The idea to cut into UA employee earnings has gained steam as officials look at ways to offset what they expect to be a series of state cuts that could leave them $50 million in the red by next summer.
Cutting pay could pose potential long-term consequences that could affect the UA’s ability to hire and retain employees.
“What does that do for our competitiveness? We’re already below where we need to be,” said Allison Vaillancourt, UA’s vice president for human resources. “If we take another whack at employees, who will come to work for us? Will we be able to attract people in the future?”
Overall salary costs have increased by 18 percent since 2005, putting UA in line with other universities, she said.
Faculty members who get raises actually save the UA money in the long run because it’s cheaper than advertising for an open position and training a new employee, university officials said.
“If they need lab equipment or special office space, we could be looking at several hundred thousand dollars,” Vaillancourt said. “It doesn’t make any sense for us to spend that money if we don’t have to.”
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