Salary Cuts at NSHE Actually Hikes

One of the most piercing of all sounds emitted by government is the collective shriek of the workforce at the Nevada System of Higher Education. They claim they’re actually having to take pay cuts as a result of Nevada’s shrinking population (and tax revenue).

While someday it might be true, it doesn’t appear to be true heading into the spring of 2010.

Most everyone agrees that the professors and teaching staff are enjoying a healthy increase in their income this year. It’s the “classified” staff that’s gaining sympathy through doe-eyed looks and cooked books. As it turns out, they generally get an automatic annual pay hike that exceeds any proposed cost of furlough.

Classified Salary Schedules and furlough information:

Teaching Faculty:

The Classified Salary step increases (the pay increase for being there an extra year, excluding increases for promotions and CPI increases) range from a low of 3.3% to a high of 4.6% per annual step. For some reason the highest paid get the biggest percentage step increases. The furlough plan reduced pay by 2.3% per year and the schedule reflects a very small pay decrease (about 0.5%).

The good news for the employees, then, is that they don’t have to work as much and their base pay is not affected; after the furlough is over pay pops right back where it was. The employees can elect to take the furlough at 2.3% a year for FY 10 and FY 11 or get full pay in FY 10 and take 4.6% furlough in FY11. So the furlough offsets most of the classified step pay increases. If someone was at the top of the salary scale, then they wouldn’t get a step increase so for those few employees there would be a small pay reduction (2.3%) to compensate for the fewer hours worked.

Secondly, as previously stated none of the tenured professors were required to take any furlough and thus saw zero pay reduction. The employee’s benefits are also not reduced, just their hours of work.

For an example, picking someone in the middle of the schedule (step 40-1) where the employer pays the full retirement: They were making $51,364.80 in 7/1/08. In 7/1/09 their salary would be $53,452.80 (having moved a step by being there another year). As a result of the furlough, they get approx. an extra hour off a week (taken as a periodic day off without pay). This would reduce the employee’s $53,453 salary by 2.3% to compensate for the time off, reducing her pay to $52,223.

The bottom line for this employee? She is making about $858 a year more than he was the previous year and had to work 2.3% less. This is not ideal, but I find it hard to see how it is some kind of tragedy – certainly not by private industry standards. The tenured profs naturally fair much better than this.

Note that this example is before the special session so it is possible (but not certain) the changes implemented by the Board of Regents following the session will result in a small pay decrease for this employee.

So while a few NSHE employees will see a very slight drop in pay in direct relation to not having to work as much, most will see an increase in pay for not having to work as much.

This is in direct contrast to the biased pablum served to us each day by our TV stations and newspapers. They see the taxpaying private companies as under-taxed and believe increases are needed to pay the public employees what they believe they are due, so they present their viewpoint as fact.

In defense of NSHE classified employees, they correctly point out that their increases over the past decade have trailed those of other government workers. Does that make them poorly treated, or their richer employees of other branches and agencies shameless pillagers of the public trough?

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