It's no wonder that college students and their families in California are disgusted.
Just a day after the 23-campus California State University system announced that it is planning to freeze enrollment next spring due to budget woes, university trustees have granted a 10 percent pay increase to incoming presidents at the Fullerton and East Bay campuses.
Talk about bad timing.
New CSU Fullerton President Mildred Garcia is in line for a $324,500 salary. Her predecessor made $295,000.
It's the same for new CSU East Bay President Leroy Morishita. His salary will be $303,660, which is 10 percent above what the previous executive made. That doesn't include a housing and car allowance, of course. Those are extra.
On Monday, the CSU system announced that, depending on the outcome of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposal on the November ballot, it is planning to slam the brakes on new student enrollment for Spring 2013.
Except for a handful of community college transfers, there'd be no new admissions. In the fall of 2013, all applicants would simply be put on a waiting list instead of being admitted.
That means that tens of thousands of students would be told, sorry, there's no room. CSU leaders say after a half dozen years of tuition increases, there's no more appetite for further increases.
If Brown's plan to pass temporary taxes fails in November, the campuses would face a further $200 million cut, creating the need to bring the hammer down on enrollment.
The move is a dramatic illustration of the stakes involved as voters consider the consequences of the ballot question they'll face. But it would have far more legitimacy if CSU were actually holding the line on executive salaries.
Last January, fueled by an outcry over the salary given to San Diego State's new president, the board moved to adopt a policy that caps new executive salaries at 10 percent above that of a predecessor's.
It's long been argued, of course, that high salaries are needed to attract quality administrators. But given the budget turmoil that CSU has been wrestling with, even a 10 percent raise sends a wrong message.
That message: we may have to slam the door on new student enrollments, but let's keep raising those executive salaries.