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State employees demand 8% raise

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State employees are demanding an 8 percent pay raise out of Utah's projected $122 million budget surplus.

In a letter to state Senate and House leaders, the Utah Public Employees' Association says it is time to quit carving up extra dollars and start using them to equalize wages between the public and private sectors.

"The surplus money should have been allocated for pay increases last year and it wasn't," Tom Bielen, UPEA executive director, said Thursday.

An 8 percent across-the-board raise would cost about $40 million, and state workers aren't likely to see such an increase. The lion's share of the surplus, $91 million, belongs to the uniform school fund, leaving lawmakers $31 million to play with.

Bielen said it would actually take $80 million to $100 million to bring public employees in line with their private counterparts.

"The Legislature needs to recognize it can't continually take advantage of state employees," he said.

"The turnover rate is atrocious. The pay is pitiful."