SALT LAKE CITY – Utah lawmakers were apparently feeling generous toward higher education faculty and staff during the recently concluded 2020 session of the Legislature.
According to a Legislative analysis issued by the Utah System of Higher Education, the Legislature approved a 2.5 percent across-the-board salary and wage increase for university faculty and staff. Lawmakers also approved a 4.53 percent increase in funds earmarked to defray the cost of health and dental insurance for USHE employees.
The annual price tag for those compensation increases is $27.4 million.
In his original 2020-21 operating budget request, interim Commissioner of Utah Higher Education David R. Woolstenhulme had requested nearly $33 million for salary increases and insurance costs. That amount would have provided a 2.5 percent increase for salaries and wages, plus a 5 percent increase in insurance funding.
While fully funding the commissioner’s requested salary and wage hike, Legislative budget analysts trimmed the original $33 million request by about $5 million just by reducing the appropriation for insurance costs by about half a percentage point.
Overall, lawmakers increased the USHE statewide budget by 8.2% ($90 million in ongoing funds), plus $1.75 million in one-time funds for the 2020-01 academic year.
The salary and insurance increases will take effect July 1.