Getting a raise is great and all, but is it sustainable?

Reason reports:

University of California System Spending Big Money on Salary Boosts

A number of years ago, I wrote about a California pest-control agency that had lobbied taxpayers to raise their property taxes to help fight a scary stinging insect called the red-imported fire ant. The extra dollars, officials said, were needed to halt an emerging threat to public safety. Shortly after voters complied, the agency significantly boosted compensation for its employees.

After that episode, I was hoping more Californians would embrace the words of that old song by The Who: “Won’t get fooled again.” Yet, the same dynamic goes on endlessly, as agencies insist they lack the funds to provide needed services. But their spending often is far less than public-spirited.

The latest rendition involves the University of California system. One of the nation’s premier universities, it has nearly 20,000 faculty members and 195,000 employees at its campuses and medical centers. It’s funded in part through tuition and taxpayer dollars.

In November, the UC’s governing board (regents) gave tentative approval to a 27.6-percent tuition increase over five years, arguing that the boost was necessary to assure a top-quality education. Gov. Jerry Brown opposed the hike, arguing the system could improve efficiencies. The university’s demand was a ploy to convince political leaders to give the system more money.

Ultimately, the governor negotiated a deal with UC President Janet Napolitano. As part of the budget, the university gets a 4-percent general-fund spending increase and a large contribution toward its underfunded pension system and some other things. UC agreed to freeze tuition for two years for in-state students while hiking tuition for out-of-state students.