California state senator introduces bill to open administrator salary debates

CALIFORNIA — A bill in the California State Senate that would allow greater public access to the state’s public university governing board meetings has passed two committee votes.

Introduced by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), SB 190 would require executive compensation packages drafted by the California State University Board of Trustees and the University of California Board of Regents to be discussed and voted on in public. The bill passed unanimously through the Senate Education and Judiciary committees.

SB 190 was drafted after lawsuits and audits revealed that top administrators in the University of California and California State University systems were being paid more than the amount made public.

“We need to end the culture of secrecy at the UC and CSU governing boards,” Yee said in a statement. “SB 190 will bring much needed sunshine to these discussions, provide members of the media the democratic access they deserve, and help restore the public’s trust.”

The California Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the bill next before it can move to the entire Senate for consideration.

A California court ruled in August 2006 that while the University of California Board of Regents can discuss administrator pay in private, no final decisions can be made. The decision came in a lawsuit filed by the San Francisco Chronicle to stop the board from making those decisions while in closed sessions.

As a state representative in 2006, Yee introduced similar legislation, but it did not garner enough support to receive a vote from the state assembly.

Yee also introduced legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in August 2006 explicitly prohibiting censorship of college student newspapers.

By Jared Taylor, SPLC staff writer