Lawmakers target UH salaries

State senators took aim at salaries for top University of Hawaii officials.

They say executive pay for some has more than doubled during the past decade just as student tuition has soared.

Lawmakers also questioned why one UH regent accepted thousands of dollars worth of tickets for UH sporting events.

"As far as I'm concerned based on a comparison of salaries, we do have bloat," said state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim.

"I'm very concerned about that because it raises the cost of tuition and college costs around the country, it's just getting out of hand and people can't afford to sent their kids to school."

According to a Senate study, UH President MRC Greenwood earns $475,000 a year ... or nearly four times as much as Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Meanwhile, UH Chancellor Tom Apple is paid nearly $440,000, or more than three-and-a-half times as much as Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui.

"There's certainly a need to look some of the glaring and obvious inequities that we see in our higher paid administrators," said state Sen. Will Espero, (D) Ewa Beach.

School officials say UH pay is not out of line.

"We want to provide Hawaii with the very best service we can in all of these areas and we're going to have to pay to get it," said Linda Johnsrud, UH executive vice president.

"If you want to be the first to reduce the salaries, you'll only hurt the university."

Senators also criticized more than $12,000 in perks given to one UH regent over the past six years.

They said board member Michael Dahilig received dozens of tickets to individual UH sporting events, when UH board policy limits its members to just two tickets per event.

"When you see four tickets, in one case 32 tickets, seven tickets, 50 tickets ... then it really raises the red flag," said Kim.

Dahilig -- a candidate for the job as the regent's executive administrator -- was traveling and unavailable for comment. UH officials say they weren't aware of the gifts and would look into them.

The Senate will hold another hearing next week on the tuition policies at UH.