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Eight miles, more bucks

Acting University of Idaho President Gary Michael charmed a joint legislative committee on employee compensation with his wit and business knowledge from his many years as CEO of the Albertson’s grocery store chain. But he also had some tough news for the lawmakers: UI is losing valuable professors and researchers because of low pay, some just down the road to Washington State. There, they can make as much as 30 percent more, he said.

Professors and staffers don’t even have to sell their houses or take their kids out of school to make the move, he noted.

“We train ‘em, and they hire ‘em,” Michael said of WSU. But he said the issue reminded him of a previous business venture, in which his wife had asked him, “What if we train these people and they leave?” He said he’d responded, “What if we don’t train ‘em, and they stay?”

The university has “very, very competent people, and in many cases they’re over-qualified for what they do,” Michael said. “Some turnover is fine, but if we continue down this path … we’re going to tend to dumb ourselves down to a place we’re not going to like.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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