Christine Gregoire, the Democratic Governor of Washington state, sent an angry letter protesting one university’s decision to substantially boost salaries. From Inside Higher Ed:
It was clear from the governor’s letter that she expected small or no raises this year for state employees, including those at public universities, and the Western announcement had caught her by surprise.
“In the worst economic times in 80 years, I am surprised that Western has entered into a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a salary increase of 5.25 percent effective in 2012-2013, a 4.25 percent salary increase each year during the 2013-2015 biennium, a 10 percent increase for faculty and instructors who are promoted, and an additional 15 percent increase in stipends for department chairs,” she wrote.
She berated the university for ignoring the sacrifices made by state workers, most of whom haven’t had a raise for four years. Some workers have been furloughed, while faculty salaries at the University of Washington and the Washington State University remain frozen.
“I sincerely hope that the faculty salary increases will not be paid for by the tuition increases Western imposed upon its students,” the letter said, referring to the 16 percent tuition hike at the university set to take effect this fall. The tuition increase is higher than at other regional universities in the state, and the same as those adopted by the University of Washington and Washington State University.
It is now official: Many public universities are in greater denial about their own spending than liberal governors are about state finances.
Since the purpose of public education is to provide affordable education to the public, it makes no sense to prioritize salary increases for the educators over the cost of that education to the students. And if the middle class can no longer afford this university, why should it be subsidized by the taxpayers of Washington state?