Although the governor's office said the 4.5 percent pay raise promised to state employees by the Legislature was not adequately funded, money has been found to cover all of the nearly $9 million increase.
The governor's budget director, Dale Hatch, issued a memo late Tuesday that explains to state bosses where to locate the almost $3 million not set aside by lawmakers for the increase scheduled to take effect July 1.Last month, in the waning days of the 1989 session, legislators approved an average pay increase of 4.5 percent for state workers, including a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment and a suggested 2.5 percent merit raise.
Lawmakers budgeted $6 million for the raises and said the rest would come from transferring money out of the long-term disability portion of the state retirement fund and through departments cutting other spending.
But Hatch has said only about $1.4 million is available from the state retirement fund, not the $2.4 million legislators had hoped. His memo said the difference will be made up by unexpected savings in data-processing costs.
That means state department budgets will only have to be cut by their share of the remaining $500,000, an amount that Hatch said can be reduced without affecting state services.
Gov. Norm Bangerter was among the first to question whether lawmakers made enough money available for the full increase. "I think they're light there," the governor said only minutes after the session ended.
State employees, too, have expressed concern. Nancy Sechrest, governmental affairs director for the Utah Public Employees Association, said a common reaction is, "Uh huh, we've been had again."
Sechrest is more optimistic. "What I've been telling them is that the moral commitment on the part of the governor and the Legislature is there. I just don't think they're going to turn their back on it."
Bangerter was given credit by Hatch in the memo distributed to state department heads for having "fought hard" for a 5 percent pay increase for state workers.
The governor had publicly endorsed a 3 percent increase but lobbied for the bigger boost after state revenue projections released in mid-February were better than expected, according to the memo.
Neither Hatch nor anyone else in the governor's office directly criticized lawmakers for putting the burden on them to find money to make sure the pay raises are possible.
"I think it says a lot that we're committed to granting this raise," said the governor's chief of staff, Bud Scruggs.