Current and future New Mexico State University employees will see reductions in annual leave, most employees will lose their sick leave payout benefit, and future employees working less than 30 hours a week won’t be eligible for health and other insurance.
Those are among the benefit reductions members of the university’s Board of Regents unanimously approved at a meeting held Monday.
NMSU President Garrey Carruthers detailed the approved cuts in a memo sent to employees following the Regents’ vote. For current employees and those hired by the end of June, Carruthers’ memo states:
• Retiree health coverage will continue to be provided.
• The sick leave payout benefit upon termination of employment or retirement will be discontinued. The one exception will be for those employees who have accrued more than 600 hours of sick leave as of July 1, 2016. These employees will receive a grandfathered benefit.
• The annual leave accrual benefit will be reduced from 22 days to 20 days.
• Up to 240 hours of accumulated annual leave may be carried forward each July 1, consistent with current NMSU rules. However, the period for use of annual leave in excess of the maximum 240 hours will end on June 30, and all accumulated leave in excess of 240 hours at the close of business on June 30 of each year will be lost. This is a change from the current deadline of September 30. Importantly, this change in the date of forfeiture will not be implemented until June 30, 2017.
• Anyone working less than .75 FTE and currently enrolled in insurance benefits (medical, dental, group life, LTD, vision, voluntary life, voluntary AD&D, critical illness, long-term care, flexible spending accounts) will be allowed to continue to participate in the elected benefits.
And for new employees hired starting July 1:
• Retiree health coverage will not be provided.
• The sick leave payout benefit upon termination of employment or retirement will not be provided.
• Annual leave accrual will follow the schedule below, based on the employee’s period of continuous service of employment at NMSU:
– Twelve (12) days of annual leave accrual will be provided to employees during their first four years of regular continuous service.
– Seventeen (17) days of annual leave accrual will be provided to employees during years 5 through 9 of regular continuous service.
– Twenty (20) days of annual leave accrual will be provided to employees upon completion of nine full years of regular continuous service.
– Any leave accrual change will be effective in the first full pay period following the employee’s work anniversary date.
• No insurance benefits (medical, dental, group life, LTD, vision, voluntary life, voluntary AD&D, critical illness, long-term care, flexible spending accounts) will be provided for employees working less than .75 FTE.
There had been lots of talk about the possibility of eliminating NMSU’s Employee Health Center, but the center survived this round of cuts. However, the center’s future may still not be decided. NMSU spokesman Justin Bannister said the university will hold a town-hall meeting in July “to bring the community up-to-date with the current budget situation, university restructuring efforts and what additional measures may be needed. My emphasis is on ‘may.'”
Cutting administrative salaries is another possibility the university has considered.
In his memo, Carruthers wrote that he appreciates “the work that everyone does to make this an outstanding university.”
“With your assistance, we will be able to make the changes needed to put the university on a more secure financial footing,” Carruthers wrote.
The employee benefit cuts are part of the university’s efforts to eliminate $10.7 million from its annual budget. That’s necessary because the state decreased funding for the university earlier this year and enrollment has fallen. The Regents rejected a proposed tuition increase to help cover the shortfall in April.
The university has set up a website with documents, archived video of town-hall meetings, and other information about the cuts being considered.
The Regents also voted during Monday’s meeting to table a proposal to require that first-year students live on campus for one academic year. The Regents plan to revisit the idea once they can review additional information, including how many students will be affected and whether additional exemptions might be needed.