College Guide

Blog

January 19, 2011 6:19 PM West Virginia Pay Increase Means Higher Tuition

By Daniel Luzer

An effort to help out state education employees proposed by acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in his State of the State speech might help them, but it’s going to be a little difficult to implement across the state. On January 12 Tomblin said:

I know that our teachers deserve a higher salary. But at this moment, we cannot afford additional pay raises that will add to the State budget forever. I am proposing a one-time, $800 across-the-board enhancement for our teachers. This recognizes the hard work that our teachers put into our system while at the same time does not add to our base budget. Frankly, it should be more and we need to strive for a day when our teachers are paid at a rate equivalent to the most important role they play.

This makes it sound reasonable and limited. But the “salary enhancements” also include a $500 bonus for all other state employees, including those employed in the state’s public colleges. The fact that the money “does not add to our base budget” doesn’t mean it’s actually affordable.

According to a piece by Walt Williams at West Virginia’s WOKW TV:

Brian Noland, chancellor of the Higher Education Policy Commission, told lawmakers Tuesday that one-time bonus for state employees put forward by acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is only half-funded in the governor’s proposed budget.
The universities would need to come up with the other $7 million needed to give their employees a bonus. That could happen either through saving money through finding better operating efficiencies, reducing revenue somewhere else or raising tuition, with every 1 percent increase generating about $4.5 million.

Colleges would have to increase tuition 2 percent, according to Noland, to pay for the bonuses. Noland argued that the state isn’t providing enough money to West Virginia’s public colleges.

In 2001 West Virginia taxes provided 58 cents of every dollar that colleges spent. Today taxes only cover 37 cents.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer

Comments

  • Oneal Degrassi on January 20, 2011 9:16 AM:

    Thank you, Daniel, for bringing this to our attention.

    My wife is nurse at a large school in Florida. Fortunately, she too receives the bonuses that the teachers get (once in a blue moon). At the risk of sounding "political" I just had to comment about the last quote in your post and the following paragraph.

    Is it "correct" that instead of finding ways to save the money through better operating efficiencies, that they completely skip over that and lay it all on their students? It is not the students' fault that the economy, and the state budget, is the way it is. Students, who already pay an exorbitant amount of money for their education, should be left alone and not brought into the state budget woes.

    If the redistribution of taxes from 58 to 37 cents on the dollar is what caused this mess, then where did that 21 cents go? At the very least, students should share the load with those helped by that 21 cents.

    I may be way off base here, but I just had to put in my two cents. Maybe this will spark up some conversation.

    I read this article from U.S. News and World Report yesterday that talks about all the economic troubles and cutbacks of grants and scholarships. There are some good tips on how to save money for college.