The Utah Legislature should provide a firm no to a state panel's recommendation that Utah's governor, and other state officials, receive pay raises of 36.5 percent. In fact, if legislators fail to exercise fiscal responsibility and nix the proposed raises, that's a good enough reason to not re-elect them.
David Bird, vice chairman of the Utah Elected Official and Judicial Compensation Commission, claims the pay increase, which would boost Gov. Gary Herbert's salary to $150,000, is warranted because the economy is turning around. That's a ridiculous reason to boost the salaries of taxpayer-funded officials. We may be entering an uncertain, slight recovery, but we're sure that very few poor and middle-class workers, if any, in the private sector are looking at the possibility of comfortable 30 percent-plus raises. In fact, we'd wager that most have seen no pay increases for more than a few seasons.
To take that large a pay raise -- in this economy -- would be a very selfish act by Utah top-level public officials.
Another silly argument for the pay raise being peddled by its supporters is that the salary hike will ensure that persons don't need to be rich to seek high office in Utah. That's nonsense. Keep the salaries where they are and let's just see if the power and six-figure incomes enjoyed by Utah's leaders will become so despised and unloved if the salaries for those positions don't approach $150,000. Of course they won't; there will still be strong competition for the governor's office.
Frankly, if the economy were so strong that it was lifting all Utahns, we'd be willing to consider the proposed salary hikes. But not at this time, where too many of us are still enduring a weak economy, and struggling daily with economic worries.