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April 11, 2012 Volume 33, No. 27

UM System budget proposes employee raises, increases to health benefits


Funding for research from general revenue pool may be reduced

An average 2 percent pay raise for qualifying Mizzou employees was proposed last week during the Board of Curators budget meeting at the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla. Raises would be based on merit, promotions and tenure.

Any pay raises, however, may be offset by other costs. An increase of 1 percent to the employee retirement fund and 1 percent to health benefit premiums was discussed at the April 5–6 meeting, said Nikki Krawitz, the UM System’s vice president for finance and administration.

The system’s fiscal 2013 budget is $2.7 billion, an increase of about $20 million from 2012. Of that, the proposed operating budget, which pays for salaries and other expenses, is approximately $1 billion. State appropriations to the UM System total $372 million, a decline of $30 million from 2012’s allocation.

Job losses, previously estimated to be 245 across the four campuses, were lowered at the meeting to around 200. Many job eliminations would be through not filling open positions, Krawitz said.

The projected UM System budget reduces general revenue funding for research by a still undetermined amount. Research funded through grants and donations will not be affected, Krawitz said.

MU researchers interviewed were bothered by general revenue cuts for research. “Decisions that would jeopardize the research mission of MU are serious concerns,” said Cheryl Heesch, a biomedical researcher and Faculty Council member. 

“We are classified as a research institution and one of the stated goals is to increase the university’s standing as a major research institution,” Heesch said. “To maintain, and hopefully increase, our national reputation and to remain competitive for extramural funding of grants and contracts and licensing agreements, the message needs to be clear — the University of Missouri values and invests in research.” 

Other MU employees are concerned that salary raises might be too low and offset by retirement fund and benefit premium increases.

“This salary raise pool will help, but only to the extent that the raise pool is greater than the raise pool at the other [Association of American Universities institutions],” said Joe Parcell, an associate professor of agricultural economics and vice chair of Faculty Council.

Even so, “the raise pool will help ease the salary compression issue,” Parcell said. “This is where new employees are being paid as much as current employees because the going rate for new employees increases with competition.”

Speaking for the Staff Advisory Council, vice chair Jen Rachow said of the salary and wage budget: “We appreciate the curators acknowledging the importance of raises, and it would be nice to have an increase to offset any health insurance premium increase.”

Besides Mizzou, employees at other UM System campuses would also receive qualified pay raises: 1 percent at UM-Kansas City and UM-St. Louis, and 1.5 percent at Missouri S & T.

Despite the UM System budget planning, leaders acknowledged that many cuts might not be necessary since the House restored the state’s 7.8 percent reduction to higher education. The Senate is now debating the state budget. Until the state budget is finalized in June, curators will use the figures in Gov. Jay Nixon’s fiscal 2013 agenda. They will meet again in June to finalize the system budget.