Governor Vetoes Bills Aimed at UC, CSU Reform

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed three bills Sunday aimed at limiting executive pay and increasing transparency in California's higher education system.

The three bills were all sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee D-San Francisco/San Mateo and were passed in the state legislature by bipartisan majorities earlier this year. However, Schwarzenegger said in separate veto statements that the bills would undermine the retention of top administrative staff and were not adequate remedies for ensuring that there is proper transparency in the UC system.

"A blanket prohibition limiting the flexibility for the UC and CSU to compete ... in attracting and retaining high level personnel does a disservice to those students seeking the kind of quality education that our higher education segments offer," Schwarzenegger said in a statement to the state Senate announcing his veto of SB 86.

The bill would have prohibited pay raises for UC and CSU administrators during years in which state funding to the two systems had not increased from the previous year.

Yee said he introduced the bill in response to the UC Board of Regents' decision last July to approve salary increases for some executive positions while raising student fees.

"What is outrageous about (these raises) is at the same meeting you go ahead and raise student fees," Yee said. "The fact that you have these extraordinary raises during tough economic times seems very much unfair."

SB 218, meanwhile, would have extended the authority of the California Public Records Act to include auxiliary organizations and foundations that receive public funds from or perform government functions on state campuses.

According to Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, Schwarzenegger's veto of the bill

hinders efforts to ensure that members of the public would be able to know that their financial contributions to the university are being spent properly.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg ... (it) runs the risk of putting a chilling effect on contributions to the university," Taiz said. "It is absolutely reprehensible of the governor to protect auxiliary and foundations against ... public scrutiny."

UC officials, however, said they "whole-heartedly" agree with the governor's position that the bill inappropriately extends public oversight laws to private organizations.

"(SB 218) will send the wrong message to our donors and volunteers ... and their philanthropy to the university," UC spokesperson Leslie Sepuka said in an e-mail. "Furthermore, we believe that SB 218 is attempting to address an issue that does not exist for our foundations."

The third bill, SB 219, also known as the UC Whistleblower

Protection Bill, would have granted UC

employees the same legal protections as other

California state employees who file workplace complaints.

Schwarzenegger also agreed with the position held by UC administrators that the current administrative review process was adequate for university employees. A compromise that would have provided whistleblowers access to courts under specified circumstances was rejected by

lawmakers, Sepuka said.

Though the legislature will not attempt to override the vetoes, Yee said that the bills will be reintroduced in January when the legislature

reconvenes.

"(We will) work with everyone to craft a bill that will get a signature," Yee said. "If the UC continues to grow and prosper it needs the confidence of the public. It's extremely important that we pass these bills."

Tags: SB 218


Contact Denise Poon at [email protected]



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