UVa Employees Want VA to Raise Taxes

Indie writes: The Daily Progess is reporting that a contingent of UVa employees is lobbying the state to raise taxes. With the University not able to compete on the salary scale with “peer institutions,” threats of professors and other employees leaving because they haven’t gotten a raise in TWO years, legislators are now contemplating a variety of tax increases. Sure the states budget is in a sad state of affairs, but are they actually spending our money wisely? I imagine there is still a lot of fat, pork, and waste in the budget that they can cut before they raise taxes. A potential increase would just shift the burden to keep UVa running to non-UVa employees, mainly middle-class workers who don’t make as much as university workers.

Tax me ’til I blee– oh. never mind.

41 thoughts on “UVa Employees Want VA to Raise Taxes”

  1. No, that money’s coming from corporate sponsors, grants, ticket sales, etc.

    The tuition is going to pay the faculty, since the state gives UVA only about 20% of its income, which is far less than competitive state schools. UVA needs to be getting more money from the state (or else significantly raise in-state tutition, though that brings with it a whole lot of other issues), and the only way UVA will get more money from the state, is if they raise taxes. I’m certainly not saying that there’s no waste in either UVA or the VA Gov’t, but UVA at least, is running pretty damn lean, and i can tell you, if it doesn’t get better, many academic programs are going to shut down or be drasticly cut back because of a lack of faculty and staff. And to those of you who don’t care about the state of the university, just remember that this is a college town, and the quality of the school determines the quality of the alumni, and the quality of the alumni plays largely into the qualtity of the general population, and local business.


  2. What you are talking about is quality of life. What about the people who don’t work at UVa., who work for private companies and would like a raise, but understand that during tight economic times like these they aren’t going to get one, and that every dollar and cent matters to their personal household budgets. I find it amusing that UVa., which is a wealthy educational institution, needs to ask middle-income earners for more money (in the form of higher state taxes). Why not dip a little more into that multi-million dollar endowment? Or better yet, ask those rich UVa alumni for a bigger donation. Asking the state for more money is not the only way to meet their needs as you say, let’s kick the fundraising drive into high gear! Everybody’s gotta buckle down on their finances for the time being–the University, the faculty and staff, the alumni, the general population, and the local business they patronize.

  3. Raise my taxes rate .025% and give me a 10% raise. Fair trade for the employees if one penny of that increase goes to their raise. By that logic UVA workers should go out and buy lottery tickets, that way they could become millionaires and pay for part of their raise.

  4. Why not significantly raise out-of-state tuition (again?), rather than in-state? The high cost probably won’t result in enough of a decrease in out-of-state applicants to make any difference. I’ve always felt that UVA should price OOS tuition as high as the best private colleges in the country, if not a little bit higher. I don’t know how much of a difference that will make with the budget, but I’d certainly support that move before any attempts to raise in-state tuition.

  5. Why do you find it amusing that UVA, an institution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is asking for money from the government that touts said school as it’s "flagship" place of higher education? UVA receives 12% of it’s bugetary needs from the state. 12&! How is it that Virginia gets away with calling UVA a state school? The Commonwealth really needs to assess how willing it is to let UVA’s financial situation continue to go down the tubes. You said, "let’s kick the fundraising into high gear!" That is exactly the kind of sentiment that will drive UVA to privatizing itself. There is no doubt that would be bad news for the city of Charlottesville.

  6. There isn’t even a remote chance of UVa privatizing themselves. They already run the school as if it were a corporation–I think that’s as close as they’re gonna get. If I am to believe they only get 12% of their budget from the state (and if I am to believe that’s not a lot), then I’m sure they get all kinds of other tax relief and perks provided by the state that virtually amount to the state giving them money.

  7. " I imagine there is still a lot of fat, pork, and waste in the budget that they can cut before they raise taxes. "

    Could you please provide some examples?

    The bottom line is that Virginia is in the same situation that many states are in right now. Through the economic boom of the 90’s, many Republican Governors took advantage of the temporary swell of cash to boost spending on healthcare and education, both of which had traditionally been weak points for Republicans. This allowed them to brand themselves as ‘compassionate conservatives’, in effect attempting to have the best of both worlds. They really started to get themselves (or their states) into trouble when they decided to cut taxes at the same time.

    These ‘something for nothing’ budgets were doomed to failure, in some cases shortly after the Governor in question had skipped off to greener pastures elsewhere in the GOP.

    As one writer for the New York Times put it today, trying to fix a post 90’s state budget without touching healthcare or education is like boycotting soda, except for products made by Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

    I have noticed that employees of just about every state agency have claimed at some point in the last year that they have suffered unfair and disproportionate cuts compared to other agencies. That and the usual nonspecific claims of unaddressed pork devouring revenues. The truth is that there is just less money right now. And spending more money than we have on things that we really, really want is what got us into this situation in the first place.

    Sure, Democratic Governor Mark Warner could see to it that UVa employees get a raise. He could probably juggle the money around in a shell game until his legally mandated single term is up and then disappear a la Jim Gilmore (this should illustrate the problem with Virginia’s single term limit). But refreshingly, he’s just not that kind of guy.

  8. I’ll give you one example- eminent domain. If UVa privatized, they would no longer be able to run roughshod over the city on development and urban planning issues. That alone could be enough motivation to remain a ‘state school’ even if the Commonwealth was only providing 1% of their total funds.

  9. "And spending more money than we have on things that we really, really want is what got us into this situation in the first place."

    Hmmmmmmmmm…. seems as if you agree that we shouldn’t raise taxes……

    Examples of waste: the soon-to-be-built b-ball stadium, the new and expanded football stadium, the soon-to-be-built parking garage

    Tell me why UVa employees deserve a raise (from a tax increase) just because they work at UVa than the average worker who works for a private company?

  10. It’s amusing because the major beneficiaries of UVa’s spending are its graduates and its faculty, while the people being asked to foot the bill get little out of it. Why tax a laid-off worker on his car so the millionaires whose kids attend UVa – or the future millionaires who attend it themselves – pay lower tuition? What’s the mean annual income of UVa grads, anyway – $100k? More? Twice that of other area residents, I’d wager.

    And UVa privatize? What a joke. UVa will privatize when hell freezes over. What are they going to do, pay rent for all that state-owned land it sits on? In-state tuition would triple overnight.

  11. I think you have completely missed the point. Whatever the framework of the rhetoric, the force of the argument goes thusly:

    1. UVA is competing with a peer group.

    2. Within that peer group, UVA pays less than others.

    3. Without raises, UVA will lose their ability to retain quality staff.

    4. Losing quality staff, UVA will drop from the peer group.

    For the same reason, lawyers at top firms, top chemists, and the more successful CEOs lobby for raises even through economic downturns. If it helps, think of it this way. UVA is a big corporation. Its shareholders have a stake in its success. Its success depends on being able to proide competitive compensation. When it falls behind its peers in pay, it looks to its shareholders for help in raising pay — in order to keep the return to shareholders up. Virginia, as a major "shareholder" in UVA, has an apparent interest in UVA’s quality — as a place for its children to go, as a source of employees for its employers, as a source of pride, etc., etc.

    As to the athletics and garage business — that is an entirely different question, one that I’m too diplomatic to touch except to make one point. The compensation UVA provides to its employees (and students, who are in a sense "employees" in that the institution has to attract quality students to keep its status) includes not just money and education, but things like a "university experience" and "school spirit" (see athletics) and quality of life (see parking for employees). I am not saying that those particular investments are good ones (nor am I saying that they are bad), just that the investments UVA has to make in its people to compete with UNC, Michigan, Tech, Duke, etc., etc., include more than just salary for faculty and staff.

  12. That’s great and all and I understand, etc. but tell me why a middle-income earner should be taxed more just so UVa. can continue to sit on the top of the heap? Why should a blue-collar worker who is already struggling to make ends meet, struggling to make their car payments and keep their house, pay more in taxes so UVa. employees can buy nicer Cadillacs or a bigger farm in Albemarle? I am fully aware of the connection between salary and employee retention and recruitment, but why doesn’t UVa. find a more creative way to raise that money to pay their staff and faculty high wages (ie. the aforementioned fundraising drive in high gear)? Seems as if the rich folks are asking the not-so-rich folks for more money, and I can’t help but find that silly……………

  13. UVA tuition <i>has</i> gone up this semester. I don’t recall by how much, but tuition rates at state schools have gone up.<br><br>

    I doubt that the mean annual income of UVA grads is around 100K. Sure you’ve got your lawyers who make 100K on graduation, but many others don’t make close to that.<br><br>Just considering some recent UVA grads I know… one is employed at a restaurant and preparing to join the Peace Corps, one is teaching English in Germany, one is teaching English in England (which truly scares me), one is currently at Second City in Chicago, one is doing paperwork in the financial department of an aerospace firm. He’s the highest paid of them all at about 32K per year. Sure, some of them might get bigger salaries in the future, but I’d wager that most of them will end up making not much more than the mean income of <i>"other area residents."</i>

  14. First of all, I have to point out that UVA is one of the best institutions of higher education in the nation at fund-raising. UVA has achieved un-precedented success raising money creatively and from private sources. Without Casteen’s guidance, I doubt that UVA would be anywhere near what it is today (and there is no way that the law school and Darden would be able to survive without a yearly check from the state).

    I suppose your question boils down to wondering why the state should have public universities (and at what level). What benefit does Virginia get from being associated with UVA? That question is a bit too complex for me to really answer, but I am sure that you can see some arguments for both sides (increased educational opportunities, brings in jobs, produces good employees, brings in highly intelligent students, many of whom stay, provides a hospital, spreads a good name for VA all versus the marginal benefit of being #22 instead of #35).

    Also, you are being pretty unfair suggesting that UVA employees are driving Cadillacs and living on farms. Most UVA employees are squarely middle class (and those earning more are generally still earning a significant amount less than they would in the private sector — see law professors).

  15. You could look at it another way. The major business of government has become forcible confiscations and transfers of wealth from some individuals to other indivuals. We call them "entitlements" and make them a property right, and they take up a huge share of government spending at both the state and federal levels. So when hard times hit, unlike the private sector where everything is negotiable, most of the state or federal budget is off the table and the only thing that can be cut is "discretionary spending" which means everything that most taxpayers see any benefit from or want government to do to begin with.

    Bottom line: government takes too much of our money and very little of it benefits anyone who works for a living and pays the bills; and if Republicans have been less than fully successful or even honest in dealing with this problem, that’s still a leg up on the Democrats (and those selfish idiots demonstrating at UVa) who refuse to admit the problem to begin with.

  16. I could go either way on raising taxes. I feel that the important thing is that we produce a balanced budget. At the very least, it is essential that we undo Gilmore’s botched changes to the car taxes.

    I don’t think that UVa employees are any more or less deserving of a raise from a tax increase than any other state workers are. Most people I know are making considerably less money today than they were 3 years ago. I don’t think that it is desirable for the state to pretend that we are not in a recession, particularly at the shared expense of millions of tax payers who don’t have the luxury of an employer wearing the same blinders.

    In reference to your examples of waste, I don’t know that UVa’s new stadiums are line items in the state budget. I don’t know a whole lot about the specifics of those projects, but I do know that it is much easier to raise private funds earmarked for a sports related facility than it is to find donations for, say, giving teachers a raise. And as little as I like the new parking garage, I must wonder whether a profit may eventually be realized on it considering that it will be revenue-producing.

    Do any Cvillenews.com readers *know* what percentage of the sports construction at UVa is publicly funded? Anyone care to do some quick research for us?

  17. Faculty is different then staff. Staff doesn’t have the protections that faculty does. Staff is more like clerical in any company not specialized like many of the faculty. UVA competes for upper level faculty not for lower level staff with other universities. UVA competes for staff with Crutchfield, local government and other local/regional companies.

    Which again begs the questions: in private business there has been a freeze on wages as well, would state employees give up some of their protections for more pay?

    It is very difficult to fire a bad state staffer, this is one of the area where there is alot of waste. You can barely make it as a state employee and unless you do something terrible you can’t be fired.

  18. I have heard the "let’s go private" chant before. OK one questions how much does UVA have to pay the state to buy the state out of their investment. Please start with how much UVA will pay the state for the rotunda?

    The state is now letting the universty act more like a private college in many ways(purchasing for example) it’s a very slow process.

  19. the answer is basically 0. The football expansion was built with gifts from alumni, proceeds from fees for tickets, suites, and parking. The state help back bonds to build it but did not pledge any state money. kinda of like co-signing a loan.

  20. Did any employees spend any time recruiting donations? How many of those alomni dollars might have gone into general funds in the absence of the push for athletic facilities (you could argue even less than zero here, if you wanted)? Where will the money for overseeing any of the construction (like the guaranteed Casteen walkthrough) come from? For a department that loses money every year, where will the finances for security, maintenance, and the like come from?

  21. Are you saying that the athletic department loses money each year? If so, that’s the first time I’ve heard about that. Especially with the stadium expansion, which has converted Scott Stadium into a cash cow and almost certainly doubled per-game revenues, at least.

    I would imagine that any donor solicitation was done by VSAF, which is not a state agency, and possibly Athletic Department employees (whose salaries, I believe, are paid out of the Athletic Dept. budget), but surely not employees from other departments.

    I can’t speak for any donors other than myself, but if I weren’t able to donate to the Athletic Department for some reason, that money definitely wouldn’t be donated to another UVA department. Altruism is all well and good, but the money I provide to the Athletic Dept. is given because it provides tangible (to me) perks – good tickets, priority seating, etc.

    I would have no problem supporting a tax increase that were specifically proposed to support public higher education (fully realizing that such promises are typically broken – can you say "Virginia Lottery?"). I wouldn’t be inclined to donate any money to the University’s general fund, however. Given the choice, there are other causes closer to my heart – causes that don’t have a chance of seeing any state funds.

  22. Weren’t those the grumblings of just two springs back — that the department was in some dire financial times? Wrestling and baseball were both threatened by the axe — both for Title IX and $$$ reasons. I know that the football stadium has really driven revenues up — an extra $25 x 15,000 x 6 a year I suppose. In all honesty, I don’t know how the new numbers work out. I do know that it is exceedingly rare for an athletic department to turn a profit (though certainly less rare than for an English department to turn a profit).

    I am sure employees from Casteen’s office are involved in the fundraising for the athletics. I don’t imagine it is too much, but I just wanted to make the point that a line cannot be so easily drawn between athletics and the rest of the University.

  23. Raise taxes? Bite me. The cost of everything around here is already going through the roof with our water bills doubling and I just got my real estate assessment from Albemarle. Guess what? My house’s "value" went up 27%.

    Gotta hand it to those folks, they increases taxes without rasing the rates. Pretty clever. Now, UVA wants more? (Yes, I know UVA does not get county taxes, but a tax is a tax as far as my checkbook is concerned.)

    What the hell are they doing with the tuition payments, which are not cheap by any means?

    I’m so sick of everyone wanting my money. Get your own damn money and leave mine alone.

    If they can afford new parking garages, stadiums, and other stupid crap projects perhaps they could spend money on "important" things, like their employees.

    Who the HELL does UVA think they are, building all these capaital projects yet they complain they want more from us. I repeat – BITE ME.

    And, the nerve of UVA employees to come out and demand the public pay more out of pocket for their saleries. Again, BITE ME.

  24. I imagine the stadium expansion generates close to $1 million per home game in additional revenues – in addition to tickets, you have to factor in increased concession and souvenir sales, the annual fees for the new suites, increased ad revenues for the game program and stadium signage, increased etc., not to mention improved opportunities to wine (or should that be “whine?”)and dine potential donors to beef things up even further. Add to that the recruiting advantages it generates, which will result in more TV games and better bowls, and the financial benefits are staggering.

    Of course, there are additional costs, as well (security, labor, cleaning, etc).

    I don’t know about wrestling, but baseball seems to be in good shape – they just got their own new facility.

  25. I think that when it was first suggested that the two sports be reduced, they both entered into a fervor of fund-raising and involvement. Now I think that both are safe. I don’t know that the donation for the new baseball stadium was part of that — but they were both at least described as close to the edge for a little while.

  26. Fundraising at Universities is often less centralized than one might think.

    My mother-in-law is a professional development officer, which is to say that she has her Masters degree in philanthropy and is an expert in fundraising for charitable and educational causes. Based on the impressions that I have gotten from her, there is usually a central fundraising office for a University. But schools within a University will tend to have their own development offices. It is through those school-specific development offices that most of the action seems to happen.

    Fundraising is a lot harder than you’d think. Any person off the street (or in an office) cannot just pick up the phone a be particularly good at it. Really successful fundraising on a University level demands experienced professionals. Which is why it is unlikely that you’d have employees from Casteen’s office heavily involved in soliciting funds for an athletic department project. It makes about as much sense as having a mail room clerk from the Curry school of education handling the accounting for the Darden school of business.

    Getting funds for a flashy new building like a football stadium is relatively easy. Everybody wants their name on something like that and they feel like they’ve done something extra important by funding something that they can see every day. The real challenge is funding just as important things like administrative costs and maintinence.

    A plea to anyone planning on giving to any charity this year: please don’t insist on earmarking funds.

  27. However, I am sure that Casteen and his right-hand men are sure to keep the big donors in their rolodexs, just for socializing, keeping in touch, that sort of thing. That’s the sort of thing I was talking about — not fund-raising as it goes on day-to-day, but greasing the wheels of the big donors, corporations, that sort of thing.

  28. <I>A plea to anyone planning on giving to any charity this year: please don’t insist on earmarking funds.</I>

    Great point – having worked extensively with several charitable entities, nothing makes the non-profit heart beat faster than unrestricted funds. People forget that charities need to be able to buy non-glamorous things such as copier paper, toner, Windex, etc. Also, non-restricted funds reduce the need for costing out each employees day, which is a huge burden on a small non-profit.

  29. I guess that that kind of thing doesn’t bother me much. I mean, that’s getting pretty far away from the issue of how public funds get used for different types of spending in higher education. I’m more concerned about things that significantly impact the budget. 5 minutes of phone time with the Dean isn’t going to affect the state budget and I don’t see an ethical conflict there either.

    I suspect that if John Casteen had the power to steer large contributions into either the general fund or a new athletic building, he’d probably rather put it in the general fund where he might have a little more influence over how it is used. But we take what we can get, I suppose.

  30. While you’re busy blaming Republicans everywhere…

    Remember it was a democrat who put Maryland in the whole and now its a Republican who must dig them out, much the opposite of Virginia.

    Of course the most fair situation(!) is in California where a democrat put them farther in the whole than the budget of most countries (35 billion) and has to dig them out as well.

    I agree that Gillmore made a mess of the buget, but most sitting govenors and legislatures played the same game. Virginia is unique in that the legistlature tried to restrain the govenor.

  31. Competing with a peer group? Join the club. The problem with salaries is that companies in Albemarle/CVille in general pay less than their peers, anywhere. Companies justify the lower salaries with the fantasy of a higher standard of living in this area, under the premise that people will stay for less if they are happy with the geographic area.

    This is total and complete BS. The ONLY way to solve the issue is for people to LEAVE. When a company (or UVA) actually STARTS to lose good people for money reasons, THEN perhaps companies will see the light and compensate accordingly.

    If you don’t like your salary, you really owe it to yourself to look elsewhere. If not, then shut the hell up about it. It’s a free market, and employers pay what they HAVE to keep the staff they feel they need.

    Use the power that’s given you. Sit tight, wait for the job market to improve a little, and look elsewhere. It’s the only real way to make a difference.

    It’s totally UNFAIR for UVA employees to think that somehow they are different. They are not. I refuse to have my paycheck fund theirs because they feel underpaid. Join the freakin’ club of millions of workers that feel they are underpaid and overworked.

    As for parking for employees – tough. No one pays for my parking downtown. Does anyone care? Nope. The garages keep upping the rates every year.

    So UVA folks, quit your whining. If Duke Tech, or Michigan are so great, then see if they are hiring. But don’t EVER expect me to foot your pay raise when you’re getting a new garage and stadium projects.

  32. If they can afford new parking garages, stadiums, and other stupid crap projects perhaps they could spend money on “important” things, like their employees.

    If only they could. No matter how much more the University gets in donations, tuition or anything else, they couldn’t give employees raises.

    The state controls the timing and amount of raises for faculty and staff at the University. Even when those employees are paid directly by grants, fees or fundraising.

    For staff, the only flexibility is in the initial offer, and the way the job is classified. (But the new broad-banding of job classifications makes reclassification to cause back-door raises difficult if not impossible.)

    For faculty, once hired, the state has done a couple of different things – required an x% across the board raise, or say the University has x% more faculty salary money, divide it up as you will – in a year when it was 2.5% some faculty got 0, some got a lot more than 2.5%.

  33. States are not allowed to run deficits. So republicans "skipping off to greener pastures" has nothing to do with our current budget.

    So cutting taxes and increasing spending didn’t really throw the states into any financial turmoil. In the real world, a state brings in taxes, and spends them ALL, no surplus, no deficit. Currently revenue is down, so spending is down as well.

  34. Where is *your* "real world? It’s not because the state balance sheet balances that there’s no deficit. Debt service is just another form of deficit. In fact, it’s more insidious, because even if revenues are raised to match actual spending, the loan servicing just sucks up all the funds.

    Anyone saying "cutting taxes and increasing spending didn’t really throw the states into any financial turmoil" is probably still stuck in the 90’s "voodoo economic revolution", I guess.

  35. I have to disagree with you there.

    States certainly shouldn’t run deficits, but they do it all the time. For example, New York is running a $2b deficit for this fiscal year and projecting a $10b deficit for next year. Idaho is short $100m, Ohio is looking at $4b. Virginia is somewhere between $2-5b (anyone care to find out the exact number for us?).

    According to Daniel Gross of the New York Times:

    "The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, estimates that the states will face a collective deficit for the 2004 fiscal year which for most states starts in June 2003 between $60 billion and $80 billion. "

    Nationwide, the problem is not just Republicans. There have been plenty of Democratic governors who are just as bad. It’s just that the bubble of the 90’s provided an especially tempting opportunity for Republicans to have it both ways and siphon off some of the Democrats core constituency- a tactic that has worked in the short run. Time will tell whether it was worth the hangover.

    As I said before, part of the problem in Virginia is the single term limit. A new governor has very little personal incentive to strive for intelligent, stable economic policy and balanced budgets. Because he will be gone in 4 years no matter what and it will be someone elses mess to clean up.

  36. Thus are the perils of state government jobs. Generally, state jobs have better benefits than many private sector jobs, and with these benefits there may be some tradeoffs. From what I understand, a good UVA job is still a pretty good deal, and thus I do not support a tax increase just to fund a raise for them.

    The few UVA employees I know pay FAR less for their health insurance than I do. And I pay nearly $100 a month to park on top of that.

  37. Good point – I know quite a few people who would go to work for UVA in a heartbeat. It’s not the easiest place to get a job because apparently turnover is so low, but it sure does seem like the employees do a lot of complaining.

  38. The econ department is all but gone, english routinely has trouble financially and the law school has long had a tradition of losing people to other schools*.

    * The law school’s pay alone is generally comparable, but the law school needs to offer a higher salary to offset the perceived benefits of being in a NY, DC, Boston or Chicago.

  39. Then perhaps it’s time to start selling off some of their non-academic properties. God knows they have enough of them to spare a few choice ones!

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