Governor proposes raises for state employees, but will that hike your taxes?

Dec 9, 2021, 8:30 PM
state worker raise...
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announces his 2022 budget outside the Antelope Island Visitor Center in Syracuse, Utah, on Dec. 7, 2021 (Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Spencer J. Cox)
(Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Spencer J. Cox)

SALT LAKE CITY — State employees’ paychecks are low. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is calling for a 15% raise as part of his budget proposal.

State Auditor John Dougall joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave & Debbie to talk about what will work and what won’t in paying state workers more.

When an employee leaves for the private sector, money is required to bring his or her replacement on board and up to speed.

 “33% of a person salary is what the replacement cost is,” Debbie said.

Dougall pointed out that increasing a state worker’s pay can end up impacting taxpayer’s wallets.

“When you start to increase people’s pay, that has a ripple effect into the cost of government. If you don’t become more efficient [and] effective at what you’re doing, then that causes increases in taxes,” he said.

Competition for workers getting fierce

Dougall said the state offers college graduates with bachelor’s degrees in accounting $20 an hour. But private employers are swooping in and snatching these young accountants up with offers of $23-$28 an hour.

“That is an astronomical increase,” he said.

Dougall added agencies are also competing against other government agencies for workers.

Realign state compensation to employees

Dougall outlined two ways he would rebalance wages vs. benefits for state employees.

Oftentimes state wages are low but benefits are high.

“If you’re a young employee just out of school . . . you’re really looking at the wage. You’re not thinking about the benefits,” he said.

Too much in benefits and too little in wages, Dougall said, needs rebalancing.

Secondly, Dougall said that cost-of-living wage adjustments across the board encourage low performance and discourage high performance.

“I want to see us do more pay-for-performance that encourages high performance because if you’re a low-performing employee, I want you to leave,” he said.

“But can’t you just fire the low-performing employee?” Debbie asked. “But then you have the issue of there’s not enough workers to fill positions, too.”

Dougall said there are hurdles and processes that have to be completed for termination of career employees, but in his office, all workers are classified as at-will employees: an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any legal reason.

“It matches much more like the private sector.”

Targeted raises

“Can the state afford the 5% to 15% wage adjustment that the governor is proposing?” Debbie asked.

Dougall said it depends on how targeted the raises are. A more universal raise the state can’t afford, he said.

“But I don’t think that’s what he’s [Gov. Cox] proposing.” 

He added the subject of raises highlights the need to create more efficient state government to reduce the burden on the taxpayer.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Super agers have been identified by researchers as men and women over age 80 that have the cognitiv...
Curt Gresseth

SuperAgers — who are they, are you one, and can you become one?

SuperAgers are men and women older than 80 with the mental faculties of people decades younger.
2 days ago
A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit

After a significant snowfall in northern Utah, are you prepared for a winter emergency while on the roads? Wade Mathews of Utah Division of Emergency Management -- Be Ready Utah joins the shows to give out holidays tips on being prepared for any challenges while driving.
4 days ago
Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides. (Stock photo)...
Alejandro Lucero

Pass the stuffing not the uncomfortable conversation this Thanksgiving

Dave and Dujanovic spoke with an expert who will help you void the gobble-squabble around the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
10 days ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club...
Curt Gresseth

‘I trained for this,’ says veteran who took down gunman at nightclub

A veteran joins the show to provide insight into the actions of another veteran who limited the loss of life at a Colorado nightclub by subduing the gunman until police arrived on scene.
11 days ago
Rioters at the US Capitol...
Curt Gresseth

Utah bill would limit police access to your cellphone data

A spokesman for a a libertarian think tank in Utah discusses why he supports a bill at the Legislature limiting law enforcement access to the cellphone of a person near a crime scene.
12 days ago
rollercoaster lagoon...
Curt Gresseth

Lagoon spokesman explains big price hike for day pass

Lagoon announces Primordial, a new one-of-a-kind interactive rollercoaster, coming in 2023, but with the new ride comes higher season passes.
15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Governor proposes raises for state employees, but will that hike your taxes?