A bill aimed at giving the state’s two largest universities more control over their own affairs advanced in the House of Delegates Monday.
House Bill 2542 is a large bill, 33 pages in fact, with several provisions. But its main intent is to give the state’s higher education institutions more flexibility in hiring and salary rates.
The bill would allow West Virginia and Marshall Universities to decide their own salary schedules, or pay scales, by consulting with their Boards of Governors and with their employees – rather than it being decided for them from Charleston through the Higher Education Policy Commission. For all other colleges and universities in the state, changes would have to be approved by the HEPC.
Sponsors of the bill say the state’s higher education system has faced major budget cuts in recent years and the changes allow them to be more flexible with the money they have. Republican Del. Joe Statler is the lead sponsor of the bill.
“As we continue to cut their budgets, and this is what it’s all about ladies and gentleman, it’s about the money it takes to run these institutions, if we don’t want to fully fund these institutions, then we’ve gotta give ‘em some flexibility,” Statler said.
Democrats tried to amend the bill to require universities to give laid-off workers first preference if their cut positions are restored or give them the option of taking other open positions if their positions are cut.
Those amendments failed after some debate. House Bill 2542 is up for a final vote in the House Tuesday.