BOISE -- Interim President of the University of Idaho Don Burnett argued for a pay raise for the faculty and personnel up in Moscow. But he also wants that raise for every state employee.
Burnett spoke to the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee Tuesday, first, touting the successes of his school. With a collaborative approach to teaching, scholarship, and outreach, the University of Idaho serves the entire state. The campus of the University of Idaho, is the state of Idaho. Through these statewide activities, the University of Idaho pumps nearly a billion dollars a year into Idaho's economy.
But Burnett says without a funding boost the school will start to fall behind, which would hurt the university and the entire state. Specifically, he wants pay raises. He says the salaries at the U of I are lagging way behind similar universities. Compensation for our employees has declined from about 92 percent of average salaries paid by our peer institutions in fiscal year 2007, to just over 87 percent in fiscal year 2013, and we expect the figure to turn out about 84 percent in FY 2014, the current fiscal year.
He says unless that can be turned around, they'll start losing more staff and professors to other universities than they already are. We must replace nearly 14 percent of our workforce every year.
But, Burnett wants more than just a raise for his school's employees. Echoing the recommendation of the Legislature's 18-member compensation committee, he's asking for a 2 percent raise for all state employees. The committee says that would cost $11 million, but Burnett believes it's worth it. Idaho's higher education institutions ask for your help.
Gov. Butch Otter (a University of Idaho alum, who signed a proclamation honoring the university Tuesday) released a proposed budget for Idaho's colleges and universities for next year which does call for an increase in state general funds. But, it does not call for more funding for raises.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.