Lawmakers approve measure to cut their own paychecks

Utah Capitol 16

You can’t say Utah’s 104 part-time legislators aren’t taking seriously balancing next year’s budget — they cut their own pay in the effort.

HJR5002, which passed the House and Senate Thursday, cuts lawmakers’ daily pay from $292 to $285, a $7-per-day reduction. The only dissenting vote came from Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City.

They are doing it, sponsors said, because pay raises for state workers will be eliminated in the revised fiscal 2021 budget, which starts July 1. This comes, of course, because of the loss of an estimated $850 million due to falling tax collections because of the coronavirus.

So if state workers don’t get planned pay raises, the Legislature shouldn’t be taking a pay raise, either, they said.

Lawmakers pay is set by the Legislative Compensation Commission, which makes recommendations on lawmakers’ pay, which is automatically given by law UNLESS the Legislature takes affirmative action to reject it.

Which the House did Thursday. This saves the Legislature’s budget $34,200 for fiscal 2021 and $45,600 for fiscal year 2022 and beyond — unless in two years the commission recommends another pay raise, which legislators accept.