Rolly: It's good to be the king here in Utahnistan
Tribune editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley drew a parody for Wednesday's edition that compared executive compensation (salary, deferred compensation, nontaxable compensation, bonus, incentive compensation, other compensation, mistress, other mistress) to worker compensation (hourly wages, food stamps, government rental assistance and fries).
His timing was impeccable.
The cartoon ran on the same day as a story about an appointed state compensation commission recommending that Utah's governor and the other statewide elected officials get a nearly 37 percent increase in their salaries.
"What we're somewhat fearful of is that some people who are not independently wealthy can't afford to serve," said David Bird, vice chairman of the Elected Official and Judicial Compensation Commission that made the recommendation.
Nobody seems to be fearful that the average state workers, the ones who actually do the jobs and provide the services, don't make enough money to feed their families without a second job or some form of assistance.
While commission members lamented the elected officials hadn't had a pay increase in 10 years, nobody mentioned the paltry increases for state workers over the same period of time.
Under the commission's recommendation, the governor's salary would jump from $109,000 to $150,000, the lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor and treasurer would all go from $104,000 to $142,500.
They also all get taxpayer-furnished cars, although State Auditor John Dougall has refused to accept that perk.
The average state worker, meanwhile, makes about $40,000 a year, according to data from the Department of Workforce Services.
But hey, they're not totally forgotten.
Gov. Gary Herbert has recommended state employees get a 1 percent increase in his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. That's on top of the hefty 1 percent pay raise they got last year.
But despite all that generosity, they're not exactly keeping up.
A state-commissioned study by the HayGroup concluded Utah state employees' salaries are about 11 percent below salaries in comparable occupations in the private sector and other government entities like cities and counties.
State employee salaries in public health jobs are 12 percent below the market; food, laundry and custodial services are 12 percent below; mechanical, construction, trades and warehouse jobs are 10 percent below; human services 9 percent below; natural resources and recreation, 7 percent below; administrative, fiscal, office and data processing, 7 percent below; education and information 6 percent below; engineering, 5 percent below, and regulatory, legal and corrections, 3 percent below.
But Gov. Gary Herbert, who stands to get a $38,500 raise next year (about the same as the average state worker's entire salary), has said on many occasion that he is proud of the little people.
Herbert, who also gets a free house, chauffeur and security guards, has publicly praised Utah because the state workforce has actually decreased by 5,000 (from about 25,000 to 20,000) in the past few years while the population the state workers serve and the demand on their time have grown.
Utah, he boasts, has learned to do more with less.
So that's why he wants to give the employees that generous 1 percent raise.
At least among the elected officials, the state auditor this time will get as much as the others, under the recommendation.
That wasn't always the case.
Then-state auditor Auston Johnson was the only statewide elected official who was prevented by legislative mandate in 2007 to make 95 percent of the governor's salary. Legislative insiders said at the time that it was Johnson's punishment for his opposition to privatizing the Workers Compensation Fund.
So what is the in-the-trenches state workers' sin? Many of them belong to the Utah Public Employees Association a union.