Executive Appropriations Committee Considers Subcommittee Budget Priorities

The Executive Appropriations Committee held their first meetings on Thursday, February 20 and Friday, February 21, 2020. The committee heard all subcommittee budget reports and priority requests.

Business, Economic Development, & Labor

The Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee budget report included two state agencies, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) and the Department of Heritage and Arts.

The $1.2 million appropriations request for DABC employee salary increases was not included in the priority list; However, funding to address employee recruitment and retention was written into the intent language, which stated, “The Legislature intends that “$500,000 of the appropriation provided to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control shall not lapse at the close of Fiscal Year 2020.”

The Department of Heritage and Arts appropriation requests were focused on maintaining the current funding levels and authority over the Arts and Museums division. The intent language states that the department will continue to carry over non-lapsing funds from Fiscal Year 2020 to facilitate the moving request.

Executive Offices & Criminal Justice

The Executive Offices & Criminal Justice (EOCJ) Appropriations Subcommittee presented their budget report, including 56 prioritized on-going funding requests, to the EAC on Friday, February 21, 2020. The funding requests for employee compensation were prioritized as follows:

  • First Priority: $1 million on-going for Public Safety Troopers and Dispatch Pay Plan Increase
  • Third Priority: $2.6 million on-going to continue the Certified Correctional Staff Pay Plan
  • Ninth Priority: $4.3 million on-going for hiring and retention compensation increases within the Attorney General’s Office

The committee chairs, Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, and Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, presented the full report for EAC consideration. While addressing employee recruitment and retention, Rep. Hutchings said, “It’s not rocket science to sort out why people aren’t staying with [the Department of Corrections] as a career choice.” Hutchings then referred to a billboard advertising job openings for officers in Salt Lake County; the billboard illustrates Salt Lake County’s robust salary and benefits package for officers. Hutchings continued, “We’re struggling. We can use the help, corrections deserves the help, and this isn’t new.”

Higher Education

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee report included priority requests for several state employee-related items; one being the UTECH Industry Competitiveness Funding, which will help to bring staff salaries up to competitive levels. Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-West Valley City, sponsored the request for a Comprehensive Public Sector Compensation Study to be conducted by the University of Utah. This $280,000 request was listed as the 12th priority for consideration in one-time funding items.

Infrastructure and General Government

The Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations subcommittee budget includes funding for improvements to state agency facilities. State statute requires a percentage of the General Fund to go toward existing state facility improvements. Another priority request is an additional FTE research analyst to the Department of Administrative Services Executive Director’s office. This request is to accommodate the increasing need for data analysis and reporting and would decrease the cost of employee overtime.

Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) did not request specific funding for state employees; though, their requests focused on projects for which the agency needs financial assistance from the state, such as aquatic species protection, wildfire prevention, and air-quality.

Retirement and Independent Entities

The Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations subcommittee’s number one priority request is for Public safety and firefighter employee retirement contributions. This funding would pay the required employee contributions from the new Public Safety and Firefighter Tier II Contributory Retirement System created in the 2019 Legislative Session.

Public Education

Utah State Board of Education market salary adjustments, if funded, would provide funds for USBE discretionary salary adjustments based on current salary trends.

Social Services

The Social Services Appropriations subcommittee addressed the need for increased state employee compensation. Number nine on the priority list addressed a salary increase for direct care state employee staff at the Utah State Development Center. Number thirteen on the list addressed Child and Family Service caseworker salary increases, acknowledging DCFS caseworkers are paid 32k annually and have an annual turnover rate of 32%.