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WIDE RANGE OF PAY RAISES URGED FOR TOP STATE OFFICIALS

SHARE WIDE RANGE OF PAY RAISES URGED FOR TOP STATE OFFICIALS

The state's top elected officials all deserve raises, but some are more deserving than others according to the Executive and Judicial Compensation Commission.

The six-member citizens panel is recommending the Legislature raise the salaries of the five statewide office holders from as little as 3 percent to as much as 33.3 percent.Governor-elect Mike Leavitt would receive the smallest increase and Attorney General-elect Jan Graham the largest under the commission's proposal, which was presented to lawmakers Wednesday.

Leavitt's paycheck would go up $2,250 annually, from the $75,000 now earned by outgoing Gov. Norm Bangerter to $77,250, a 3 percent increase. Bangerter got a $2,200 increase from the 1992 Legislature.

Graham, on the other hand, would receive one-third more than Attorney General Paul Van Dam, if the recommendations are adopted. Her salary would jump $20,000 - from $60,000 to $80,000.

That would be more than any other elected state official earns. Even though one of the lawyers in Van Dam's office was earning $22,000 more than Van Dam, the attorney general's salary was raised less than $2,000 last year.

Even Lt. Governor-elect Olene Walker would see a bigger raise than her running mate under the commission's recommendation that the state's No. 2 official see a 6.7 percent salary increase, to $60,000 annually.

State Auditor Tom Allen and State Treasurer Ed Alter, who both won re-election, would receive raises of 18.6 percent and 14.2 percent respectively. Allen's annual earnings would go to $67,500, and Alter's to $65,000.

The proposed raises are based on what top elected officials in other states earn. This year, the commission considered benefits as well as actual salaries to come up with their proposals.

Factoring in benefits resulted in smaller increases being recommended this year. Last year, the commission suggested paychecks go up from a minimum of just under 18 percent to nearly 29 percent.

For example, when benefits such as health insurance and retirement contributions are taken into account, the governor of Utah earns more than $98,000, the commission found. That's 10 percent above what other governors in the Rocky Mountain states receive.

The attorney general, however, falls short when benefits are calculated. With benefits, the attorney general now makes more than $77,000, about 5.5 percent short of other attorneys general in the same region.

All but the lieutenant governor are paid less than their counterparts in the Rocky Mountain states - Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming, according to the commission.

The 1993 Legislature, which begins meeting next month, has the final say over how much elected state officials and their top appointees are paid. The Legislature also sets judges' salaries.

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(Additional information)

Recommended pay increases

Elected official Current salary Recommended Salary % Increase

Governor $75,000 $77,250 3%

Lt. Governor $56,200 $60,000 6.7%

Attorney General $60,000 $80,000 33.3%

State Auditor $56,900 $67,500 18.6%

State Treasurer $56,900 $65,000 14.2%

Recommended by Executive and Judicial Compensation Commission