LARAMIE — Gov. Matt Mead's budget recommendation for the University of Wyoming recognizes the importance of giving faculty and staff pay raises, UW Board of Trustees President Dave Bostrom said.
"Especially in the faculty realm, we are losing good people because we're not keeping up with the market, and our market isn't Wyoming. It's the world," Bostrom said.
Pay raises were identified by the board as the top priority for UW because faculty and employees at the state's only public, four-year university had not had raises in four years.
Mead's budget proposal calls for an average increase of 2.5 percent each of the next two years for UW and state executive and judicial branch employees. He also included money for merit pay increases and proposes that the state cover employee retirement contribution increases last year and proposed increases this year.
"This is going to help," Bostrom said. "It's not going to fully solve the problem. But I think that the governor has been very realistic in what we can do."
The trustees had sought a one-year, average 4 percent merit-based increase in 2014 and held open the possibility of seeking another increase in 2015.
The governor also included about $23 million in state money to continue improving the UW College of Engineering building and academic programs that aim to elevate the college to among the top 50 in the nation.
The 2014 legislative session will have final say on the budget, but the UW pay raises were expected to pass in some form.
UW spokesman Chris Boswell said if the governor's recommendation gets approval, UW will be able to undertake "very dramatic efforts" in its engineering school.
Mead's budget also covers the state's seven community colleges but offers one, 2 percent pay raise for community college employees.
Mead told the Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee on Monday that the different pay raise for community college employees stemmed from some of the community college boards awarding raises to their employees in recent years while no raises were given to UW employees.
Unlike UW, community colleges have money sources other than the state general fund and tuition that their boards can allocate as they see fit.
Mead also rejected the Wyoming Community College Commission's $14.3 million request to address increased enrollment at the community colleges.
The governor's recommendation raises the question of whether community colleges will have to look at tuition increases to cover the higher enrollment.
The Community College Commission is meeting this week in Rock Springs.
Associated Press writer Ben Neary contributed to this report.