Chris Herrod on: Utah’s higher education employee compensation

Since I’ve already mentioned Utah’s leftwing cellphone ban, Utah’s ultra-high state employee ratio, and Utah’s extremist liberal non-partisan school board elections laws (excuse the over-the-top descriptions…nobody seems to flinch when such over-the- top modifiers are used by the mainstream media to describe conservatives), as well as Utah’s moderate position on abortion, there certainly couldn’t be any other positions that are out-of-whack with Utah’s conservative populace…or could there be?

Oh yes, I almost forgot I said I would talk about business subsidies, but let me first address Higher Education…which in many ways could be considered the largest business subsidy in the state.

HIGHER EDUCATION IN UTAH

The absolute necessity of increased funding for Higher Ed is being pushed by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Some have implied that the rightwing has taken over the legislature and starved Higher Ed from their entitled funds. Higher Ed is important, but after listening to some, one might think that the University of Utah’s and other Higher Ed institutions are on life-support because Utah’s radically conservative legislature has taken a hatchet to their budget. Well, hold on, because some facts will flabbergast you—they certainly flabbergasted me.

THE FACTS

Utah spends the 4th highest in the nation on Higher Education per capita according to a report based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau for Economic Analysis, released in March of 2014.   Let me repeat that and let it sink in a moment…Utah Taxpayers spend the 4th highest per capita in the nation on Higher Ed. Heard that lately on the radio? In the newspaper? On TV? This fact is all the more impressive when one considers that Utah ranks 46th in the nation for per capita income at $34,173.

According to the data compiled by the National Education Association, Utah State Government has the 5th highest education effort in the nation (educational effort equates to the amount spent on education per $1,000 income by citizens) for Higher Ed and K-12 combined. LINK HERE Utah has the 7th highest spending on education when local government spending is added per $1000 earned by Utah citizens. Utah has the 8th highest percentage of state budget that goes to education. I wouldn’t call this a “take-over” by conservatives—would you?!

We do, however, value Higher Ed much more than we do K-12, or, maybe it’s just that Higher Ed has more $300,000 taxpayer funded lobbyists. (They don’t actually call them lobbyists, but they should… more like vice-president of government relations…but all agencies have such taxpayer lobbyists but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Back to the poverty crisis at the University of Utah. Many are dumbfounded when the see the over 22 pages, with 50 employees per page, making over $200,000 at the University of Utah (1,122 to be exact).   To be fair, many of these work for the University of Utah Hospital, but still I’m not sure one could call such salaries “living in poverty” or “ignoring” higher education.

LINK HERE

If it makes you feel better, only 491 University of Utah’s employees make over $300,000. I feel better, don’t you? So, there’s no need to investigate further. If you look through the 87 pages of 50 employees each, you’ll find a grand total of 4,328 making over $100,000 at the University of Utah.   And, I thought working for government didn’t pay well!

Ranking. Concerning funding of universities, Utah is on the very left of all states education on per capita basis, and, very left for Republican States.

As a side note, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce January 27, 2015 press release included the following statement:

Referring to Utah’s declining educational attainment, Hall said, “We see advanced warning signs that if not changed will have a lasting negative impact on our economy. Utah students are losing ground nationally and rank poorly among states. In the last two decades, Utah has lost the advantage it once held for being among the most highly educated states in the nation as we have seen our college completion rates dropping. We have to do better.”

Maybe Utah’s declining educational attainment has more to do with Utah’s recent past when Utah had the fasted growing illegal population in the nation and Utah’s declining educational attainment is the natural result. Some of us cautioned the public that scores would drop, but we were ignored and labeled “extremists” or “hatemongers.” Yet, despite being warned of the consequences, the Chamber pushed tolerance for illegal immigration (and discrimination against legal immigrants) and now they want you to pay for their mistakes. Is that fair and balanced?

BUSINESS SUBSIDIES

Republicans, especially conservatives, have traditionally believed that government should not compete with the private sector (as shown above this obviously doesn’t apply to universities).

THE FACTS

According to Good Jobs First, Utah ranks 30th for the total dollar amount of subsidies given. LINK HERE  One would expect Utah to be ranked 33rd, had an average amount of subsidies been given, on a per capita basis. Utah ranked three places higher than we should if Utah just provided an average amount of subsidies for our population.

Such a moderate philosophy showed up during the 2014, when the Utah Legislature and the Governor authorized a large subsidy to a proposed mega hotel in Salt Lake City.   Salt County officials assured legislators that numerous developers were interested in bidding on the project, which would supposedly drive down costs, but as so often happens when government bureaucrats get involved, competition actually decreases and costs go up. According the Utah Taxpayer Association, only one developer has responded to the Request for Proposals (RFPs). LINK HERE  Only 21 representatives out of 75 voted against the giveaway, which can hardly be construed as a rightwing legislature. See how your legislators voted.

HOUSE VOTE

Ranking. Utah ranks as moderate for the nation.

Umm…I think a pattern might be developing? It’s certainly not a rightwing ultra-extreme pattern if it is.

– CHRIS HERROD