While the 1989 Legislature attempted to give state workers as well as public and higher education employees an equal salary and benefits package, their paychecks may not reflect equivalent increases.
Pay boosts for everyone on Utah's payroll - from Supreme Court justices and other judges, to the governor and other elected state officials, to clerks, road crews and other public employees - will take effect July 1.Educators in local school districts and the state's university and college system are getting a 3 percent pay increase. The state also will cover an increase in health insurance costs that amounts to about 2 percent of their salaries.
State employees, on the other hand, will get a 2 percent cost-of-living increase plus up to an additional 2.5 percent merit increase, which is based solely on job performance. The boost is employees' first increase since February 1988 and only the second since Gov. Norm Bangerter took office in 1984.
That puts them ahead of educators in the amount of additional money they could see on their paychecks. But there's a catch: State employees will have to use part of their increase to cover the rise in health insurance premiums.
And Bangerter, who called his own 17 percent pay raise "not excessive," said he is concerned there may not be enough money to give state employees all of the salary hike promised.
"I think they're light there," the governor said of the Legislature's estimate of how much money was available for the 2.5 percent merit portion of the state employee pay raise.
Lawmakers funded the 2 percent cost-of-living increase every state employee will receive July 1. And no one disputes that there is enough money to cover at least 1 percent of the merit portion.
The rest is to come from the state employees' retirement fund through a transfer of up to $2.4 million from money beyond the amount needed to maintain adequate reserves.
Estimates of just how much of the $2.4 million is available vary. The legislative fiscal analyst says it's all there, but the governor's advisers aren't so sure.
Making part of the increase based on merit gives state bosses the responsibility of distributing among their employees whatever money is determined to be available.
The governor has been somewhat touchy about his own $10,000 increase, which will bring his salary to $70,000. Asked if he would take the money, the governor answered yes.
Pressed as to whether the amount was excessive compared to what other state officials and employees were receiving, Bangerter declared it was not. "I didn't ask for a pay raise. I didn't lobby for a pay raise," he said.
His salary will end up below that paid to members of the Utah Supreme Court under a bill passed in the waning hours of the session. An associate Supreme Court justice will see a boost from $64,000 to $69,000 on July 1 and another hike to $75,000 on Jan. 1, 1990.