University of California President Mark Yudof this week rejected a demand for a boost in pension from some of the university's systems highest paid employees. That was the right move, but it didn't go far enough.
The request came from executives who said it was unfair their pensions would be calculated only on their first $245,000 in income. They make more. Such a request -- at a time of state budget cutbacks, cuts in university offerings and big tuition hikes -- was so out of line that it deserved not just rejection, but punishment.
And the situation points to a fitting punishment. Cut the pay of these complaining executives down to $245,000. Then there are no extra pension benefits or calculations to worry about.
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Yes, it's risky, in the sense that some of these folks might quit. Or sue. But this group seems prepared to sue anyway. If executives at a public university system can't make due on a quarter-million-dollars a year, perhaps they're not cut out for management. If they can find better paying jobs elsewhere in academica, God bless them.
But Yudof needs to send a clear message that everyone at the UC is in this together. If he won't, the regents or the new governor would be wise to take the step. Think of it this way: Some of the UC's finest economists and experts (including one of the letter signers, UC Berkeley law school dean Christopher Edley) have warned about the dangers of income inequality to a society. Time for UC to practice what its scholars preach.