Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bill Drops Disclosure Loophole for State-Related Universities

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bill Drops Disclosure Loophole for State-Related Universities

Article excerpt

Score one for transparency.

State senators apparently have eliminated a loophole in Right- to-Know legislation that would have enabled Pennsylvania's state- related universities to shield from the public many of their highest employee salaries.

The legislation, part of a broader effort to update the state's Right-to-Know Law, was introduced in February as Senate Bill 412. Its aim was always to give the public more insight into workings of the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University, and Temple and Lincoln universities, which collectively receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year but are largely exempt from Right-to-Know requirements, said its sponsor, state Sen. John Blake, D-Lackawanna.

Indeed, his bill proposed greater disclosure on various fronts, including salaries of the 200 highest-paid rather than 25 highest- paid employees at the three largest of those universities - Penn State, Pitt and Temple.

But as initially worded, the bill would have allowed any faculty salary at those schools to be reported in unspecified dollar ranges, rather than exact amounts.

The effect on disclosure was potentially large since faculty, many in health science fields, are highly visible on top-paid lists at these elite public research campuses.

Consider Penn State, the state's flagship public university. Twelve of the 25 highest-paid employees, whose salaries topping $500,000 were disclosed in May, could instead have been reported in unspecified ranges had Senate bill 412 been in force. That's because they hold faculty appointments and are not officers, directors, key employees or others whose compensation triggers federal reporting rules.

Alerted to the wording's impact by the Post-Gazette back in February, Mr. Blake said he would seek to correct the language. Last week, that occurred as state Sen. …

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