SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's governor and other top elected officials are long overdue for a pay raise, a state commission concluded this week.
Members of the Elected Official and Judicial Compensation Commission told lawmakers on a budget committee Tuesday that the salaries haven't changed much in 10 years and are unrealistically low for the state's top leadership positions.
"It's been a long time," Commission chairman Roger Tew said Tuesday. "These need to be dealt with."
Members of the Legislature's main budget committee did not act on or discuss the commission's recommendations of a 37 percent hike. Republican Rep. Mel Brown of Coalville said committee members are instead reviewing the commission's written report.
Similar recommendations were made in 2012 and 2013, but lawmakers didn't raise the salaries, noting it's a politically difficult move.
Rep. Greg Hughes, a Draper Republican who will take over as Speaker of the House next year, said Utah can afford to pay for the increases and he thinks it's time lawmakers consider them.
"You just don't want it to become so difficult for someone to serve that it becomes a disincentive or a greater burden when you look at the salaries of executive officers," Hughes said.
Gov. Gary Herbert's spokesman, Marty Carpenter, said Wednesday the governor did not ask for an increase. Carpenter also noted the commission has recommended the salary hikes occur in 2017, after the next election.
Herbert has said he intends to seek re-election in 2016.
The commission is recommending the governor's pay be raised from about $109,900 to $150,000.
Salaries for the lieutenant governor, attorney general, state treasurer and state auditor would increase from $104,400 to $142,500.
Salaries for governors vary across the 50 states, with Maine's governor at the low end earning $70,000 annually and Pennsylvania's governor earning the highest at $187,250, according to data collected by The Council of State Governments.
The commission also recommends raising pay over two years for judges, which range from about $136,000 for district judges to $150,000 for state Supreme Court justices. The report recommends those salaries jump to $160,000 and $176,000, respectively.
Lawyers can make much more in the private sector, and even law professors earn more on average Utah judges, the report said. The commission said that's resulted in fewer attorneys for judicial vacancies over the past 20 years.
All content copyright ©2014 Daily Journal, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.