The UPEA State Board of Directors and CAPE Committee met with Governor Gary Herbert on July 11, 2016, at the UPEA offices. UPEA’s leadership asked the Governor a variety of questions about public employee issues and his views for the future of Utah’s public employee workforce.
The Governor opened the meeting by stating that, “Utah is the envy of most states. Our economy is doing very well. People decide to stay and live in Utah because of the high quality of life. Our public employees do a great job making Utah do remarkable things.”
The Governor also indicated that, “Utah is the 5th fastest growing state in the nation with one of the youngest populations. The successes Utah is having is because of the hard work and dedication of our state employees. I want to make sure employees are compensated fairly.”
Governor Herbert replied to the following questions:
- What is the most important issue facing Utah’s public employees?
Answer – The most important thing is for employees to know they are appreciated and this is shown in many ways, including through fair compensation. During my time as governor, I have consistently supported increases in compensation for pubic employees. In order to retain our great public employees, we need to make certain they are fairly compensated. We have asked state agencies to improve their efficiency by 25 percent and they have risen to meet that challenge. They deserve our appreciation.
- There has been a recent effort to abolish the state merit system for employees, what is your position on this matter?
Answer – There is no upside to abolishing the state merit system. It will cause anxiety among the employees. I am not looking to change anything. The state merit system is a balanced program and there is no need to change anything.
- What is your position on the privatization of state services?
Answer – There is no need to privatize services. At the end of the day, government needs to keep doing what it does best, and the private sector needs to keep doing what it does best. We work for the same people.
- Do you support public employees being involved in the political process?
Answer – I would be disappointed if public employees were not involved. The citizens of Utah are not as involved as they should be in the political process. If you don’t show up and vote, then you don’t get to complain. We all have a responsibility as citizens to vote, and people need to let their voices be heard.
- Should state employees have the opportunity to become active in UPEA?
Answer – I believe in the importance of associations and have led associations myself. Voices are stronger together than alone. There should not be any intimidation from supervisors or managers and employees should not be discouraged from joining UPEA. My deputy chief of staff and others in my office have been UPEA members for a very long time. I appreciate the perspective they and many other UPEA members bring to our administration when we discuss issues facing our public employees.
- How do you plan to promote a strong public workforce?
Answer – We need a good environment for public employees. We need more appreciation for their service. Promoting a strong public workforce can be achieved by making sure employees are compensated and treated fairly. We all recognize that things are not perfect, and will never be perfect, but we should strive for perfection. I’m proud of the work our public employees do to serve the people of our community.
- Do you believe public employees should continue to have voluntary labor association membership dues deducted from their paychecks by their government employer?
Answer – Certainly. UPEA is a voluntary membership organization. Technology allows us to provide payroll deduction at little to no cost to the taxpayers.
- Are you satisfied with the performance of the Utah Retirement System (URS)? What would you do to improve the performance of this entity?
Answer – The URS is doing better now than it has in the past. I know the system is not fully funded, but it is actuarially sound. Only one state is fully funded and that is Wisconsin. Our investment growth has improved and is performing really well.
Governor Herbert concluded the meeting by thanking the UPEA State Board and CAPE Committee. “I want to thank you. I appreciate what you do. You are respected throughout the state. UPEA has been kind to me and I do not take that for granted. I hope you continue to support me. We can continue to work together on what needs to be improved. I realize that every state employee is not a member of UPEA, but I appreciate the support and dedication of your membership.