UGA proposal on domestic partner benefits advances to Adams

A council that advises University of Georgia President Michael Adams agreed Thursday that domestic partners of employees should receive benefits that match those currently offered to married spouses.

The University Council passed a measure that calls on UGA to provide the money to offer health insurance and voluntary benefits to unmarried partners. The program would cost about $270,000 a year, said Janet Frick, who chairs the council’s Human Resources Committee.

Adams “will take the council’s action under advisement and consider it seriously, as he does all actions of the council,” university spokeswoman Cynthia Hoke said.

The council advises Adams on academics and other policy issues, but he is not required to act on its recommendations.

Adams declined to comment on the plan before the vote, but said the budget remains a concern in all aspects of the university.

Gov. Nathan Deal told nearly all state agencies to cut spending by 3 percent this year and next because of the sluggish economy. UGA’s plan would eliminate nearly 130 positions.

Frick said the extended benefits would help with faculty recruitment and could be paid for without using state money. Other colleges use grants, external research funding and discretionary money from their foundations, she said.

The council’s vote was expected since it has approved similar measures before. Those plans asked the state Board of Regents to pay for the benefits, but the board never acted on the requests.

This measure won’t have to go before the state board because it calls on UGA to pay for it.

Same-sex couples and couples of opposite sexes who have chosen not to be legally married would be eligible for the benefits, Frick said.

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