How much of an increase will state workers, teachers and higher education employees see in their paychecks next budget year?
The answer depended on who you asked on the last night of the 1991 Legislature.Lawmakers said they were giving all three employee groups the 5 percent increase in salaries and benefits sought by Gov. Norm Bangerter. But they contended they needed to fund it at only 4.5 percent.
Lobbyists for educators and state workers, however, said they believed the funding level set late last Friday night at a sparsely attended committee meeting meant they were getting the smaller amount.
The Utah Public Employees Association had hoped to do better. "We're disappointed it's not more," said UPEA Executive Director Nancy Sechrest. "Unfortunately our members are used to the shell game that goes on."
Even Gov. Norm Bangerter was not exactly sure how much the Legislature's action will end up adding to paychecks, according to his chief of staff, Bud Scruggs.
"Teachers are in the best shape. They clearly have enough money to get a 5 percent compensation package. Public employees will also do all right because their increase is based on merit," Scruggs said.
"The people I think we really are worrying about are those in higher education. It remains to be seen whether they've been seriously disadvantaged by this package," he said.
Teachers probably are in the best shape. They'll be able to negotiate with local school districts for more than the 4.5 percent, thanks to a last-minute budget compromise that gave the local districts more money.
And state employees' raises were tied to merit, which means department managers will have the leeway to give the best workers a 5 percent compensation package.
More than 2 percent of the compensation package is for benefits, including increases in the state's contribution to the retirement fund and money to cover rising health insurance costs.
The state's elected officials aren't facing the problem of trying to figure out how much more money they'll make when the budget year begins July 1. Lawmakers didn't give them anything.
An independent state commission had recommended raising the salaries of the governor, lieutenant governor, auditor and treasurer by 4 percent and the attorney general's by 11.5 percent based on comparisons with other states.
Attorney General Paul Van Dam, whose salary would have increased from $58,300 to $65,000, said he wasn't surprised lawmakers didn't give him a pay raise.
"I didn't have any expectations," Van Dam said. "That was one of the frustrations of being (Salt Lake) county attorney. Employees got regular raises and elected officials did not."
The Legislature approved the following pay raises:
- Public employees, teachers and higher education all received a 4.5 percent increase in salary and benefits
- However, teachers should end up with the 5 percent compensation package sought by Gov. Norm Bangerter through negotiations with local districts
- Some state employees may also see a 5 percent boost in pay and benefits because the salary increase is tied to merit. Other state employees will see much less
However, lawmakers approved no raises for elected officials. That means Utah's top elected officials will have to make do with the following annual salaries:
Office Current salary
Lt. governor $54,600
Attorney general $58,300
State auditor $55,200
State treasurer $55,200