Most Utahns think state employees and teachers should get a 3 percent pay raise this July, but they don't think Gov. Norm Bangerter should get a 10 percent raise, other state elected officials a 5 percent raise or judges a 25 percent raise.
The latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates shows that 88 percent of those questioned believe state workers and teachers should get the modest pay raises. They've gone without raises in years past, receiving only 2.5 percent in the past four years.Bangerter suggested the 3 percent raise in his fiscal 1989-90 budget, which takes effect July 1. Legislative leaders believe the Republican-dominated House and Senate will grant that raise, maybe even give a larger one.
"I think it's safe," said House Speaker Nolan Karras, R-Roy.
"The money will be there for the 3 percent raise for employees," agreed Senate President Arnold Christen-sen, R-Sandy. "But I'm not so sure about those other raises."
Bangerter suggests a general raise for employees as part of his budget recommendation process. But an executive and judicial compensation commission made up of private citizens recommends the raises for the five statewide elected officials - governor, lieutenant governor, auditor, treasurer and attorney general - and the state's judges.
More than three-fourths of those questioned said Bangerter shouldn't get a 10 percent raise, Jones found.
Bangerter accepted a raise his first year in office, one recommended by outgoing Gov. Scott M. Matheson. Bangerter's turned down subsequent suggested raises by the commission and lawmakers agreed. However, this year Bangerter said he'd pass along the suggested executive raises and accept what the Legislature gives. The commission suggests that the governor's salary go from $60,000 to $66,000 a year.
Eighty-one percent don't think judges should get a 25 percent raise, Jones found.
The battle over judicial salaries comes up each year. This year, in his state of the judiciary speech, Chief Justice Gordon R. Hall reiterated that Utah's judiciary is woefully underpaid compared with judges in surrounding states and that less-than-fully-qualified attorneys are applying for judgeships.
"We may give something to the judges, but I don't know if we'll go the full 25 percent raise," said Kar-ras. Christensen agreed, adding, "I'm not convinced we aren't getting qualified people on the bench." The Senate confirms judicial appointments and many senators are satisfied with the men and women going to judgeships.
Legislative pay won't be raised this year, Karras and Christensen said. Sen. Karl Swan, D-Tooele, introduced a bill Tuesday that would raise the base pay of the part-time legislators from $65 a day to $75 a day. But both Karras and Christensen said there's no support for it in either GOP caucus. "That's dead. Completely dead," said Christensen.
Do you believe the following suggested pay raises for public employees are too low, about right or too high?
Too low About right Too high Don't know
3 percent for state workers/teachers 45% 43% 8% 4%
10 percent for governor 0% 17% 78% 5%
5 percent other state elected officers 1% 38% 54% 6%
25 percent for judges 0% 11% 81% 8%
Sample size: 603; margin of error plus or minus 4 percent