EDITORIAL: UC's Napolitano must reduce sky-high salaries and pensions

Students and their parents no doubt welcomed University of California President Janet Napolitano's statement at the UC regents meeting last week that they won't have to swallow a tuition increase in the 2014-15 academic year.

Napolitano was restating a promise made by Gov. Jerry Brown, but she did not go nearly as far as Brown.

When the governor signed the 2013-14 budget -- one granting UC a 5% increase and promising more aid ahead -- he said he expected that tuition would be frozen for four years.

Instead of embracing the longer freeze, Napolitano said she is doing an overall tuition study, a reasonable step. The new UC president also made clear she intends to fight for more money for the 10-campus system, $120 million in the coming year.

The governor, however, said he doesn't intend to give the university more than what he has promised, $125 million this year, $142 million next year and additional boosts in the following two years. In exchange, Brown said, chancellors at individual campuses need to find ways to save money. So does Napolitano.

In her prepared 2,500-word statement to the regents, Napolitano cited "additional funding for UC's retirement plan and enrollment growth."

For 19 years ending in 2010, regents required no contribution into the UC pension fund, evidently believing pension fund investments would continue to increase in value in perpetuity. Now, the university must pay $1.2 billion a year toward pension costs.

Students, their parents and taxpayers should not be expected to pay for UC's mistake. Employees, especially those with salaries at the upper levels, need to pay a greater share of their retirement.

Good government pensions were justifiable when government salaries lagged behind what people in private enterprise earned. But golden pension benefits are hardly reasonable now that University of California administrators' salaries regularly exceed $200,000 a year.

Before Napolitano comes to the Legislature for more money, she needs to find serious cost savings at each of the campuses, starting with reducing unsustainably high salaries for administrators and rich pensions that taxpayers cannot afford.