Governor’s Budget Proposal Sets Baseline for Compensation Lobbying

Gov. Gary Herbert took the podium on Dec. 6 at Silicon Slopes headquarters in Lehi to present his proposed budget for the 2020 fiscal year. Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) staff members were there to hear the proposed recommendations for Utah’s public employees and to witness initial reactions.

Herbert said Utah’s economic success has put the state in “an enviable position compared to any other state in America.” The proposed budget reflects the challenges economic success brings with people wanting to come to the state. Herbert continued, saying, “Budgets tend to be just a bunch of abstract numbers, [that] demonstrate what our priorities are,” as a state. The FY 2020 “budget is attempting to, in fact, embrace the successes we’ve had economically, recognize the challenges we see, and see if we can address them together to keep things growing in a positive way.”

Herbert’s recommendations for Utah state employees included a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) , 0.5 percent targeted and discretionary funding for high-performance employees, funding for the 4.35 percent health insurance increase, funding for the increase in the traditional 401(k) match, and a 1 percent one-time bonus or 401(k)/457 contribution for high-performing employees.

“The governor’s proposed budget is a guideline and should always be viewed as a beginning for future discussions,” UPEA Executive Director Todd Losser said. “There are questions about how the targeted funding and the one-time bonus will be distributed.  There are also questions about how many employees are eligible and the guidelines for determining who are the high-performing employees.”

Since the announcement of the proposed budget, the list of discretionary and targeted compensation increases by agency has been released.

UPEA knows how important state employees are to the success of Utah. State employee compensation should be a priority with the governor’s office and legislators. With the economic success of the state, and Utah’s public employees’ role in this success, it should be reflected through compensation.

This year’s budget proposal represents an increase over last year’s.  Losser also indicated “that UPEA is the only advocate and voice for public employees.  Without the hard work of staff and members, public employees might not have seen the steady increases in pay over the past few years.  UPEA makes sure compensation is a priority and meets year round with the governor’s office, legislators, and other policy makers.”

As final budget numbers are announced in mid-February, UPEA’s lobbying efforts, and the input of state employees, will continue to be at the forefront of conversations with lawmakers. Please be advised that UPEA will send you periodic updates throughout the session on the status of bills.  We are currently tracking legislation that may require you to contact your legislator.