Sen. Lieu pushes to limit raises for CSU presidents in wake of $100,000 pay hike and continuing budget crisis

January 04, 2012
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Trustee action prompts legislation
SACRAMENTO – In an era of continuing budget cuts amid a lagging economy, Sen. Ted. W. Lieu today amended a bill to limit raises for California State University presidents, give priority to home-grown talent and require executive pay hike decisions to be made in open session.

“CSU trustees should not be spending limited state resources granting $100,000 raises for executive positions,” Lieu said, recalling how trustees last summer granted a $100,000 raise to a CSU San Diego campus president minutes after approving a statewide, 12-percent tuition hike.  “We must limit salaries to a reasonable level that is consistent with California's and CSU's fiscal conditions.” 

Lieu added that “open, transparent government requires executive pay decisions to be made in open session, not behind closed doors.”

Parts of this bill were originally introduced late last session as a special session bill, but time ran out before hearings could be scheduled.  Lieu’s effort has now been expanded and amended into a regular-session measure, Senate Bill 959, with four goals: 

•        CSU campus presidents may not earn more than 150 percent of the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court unless approved by the governor.  The Chief Justice, who is in charge of administering the entire third branch of California's judiciary, earns $228,856.  Under Lieu’s bill, the pay for a campus president, who is only in charge of administering a single CSU campus, would be limited to a maximum total of $343,269, including any salary contributions from CSU nonprofits. 

•        CSU trustees cannot approve any pay hikes or bonuses for campus presidents if a student tuition increase has occurred within three years.

•        When hiring a campus president, CSU trustees must give first preference to applicants within the CSU system. Secondary consideration will then be given to California residents. Out-of-state residents would be given last priority.

•      Any changes to executive pay hikes or tuition must be discussed during a public session.  In the past, such actions were sometimes done in closed session. 

SB 959 will be assigned to a policy-review committee, which is expected to occur within the next week. 

For more, including a pending amended version of the bill, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below or contact Lieu’s office.

Ted W. Lieu chairs the Senate Labor represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance, as well as portions of Los Angeles and Long Beach. For more, visit