UPEA State Board Continues to Encourage the Prioritization of Public Employees

Dear UPEA Members:

With the numerous changes that have occurred during the last few months, UPEA would like to provide you with information regarding the legislative special session, state budget, and employee compensation.

UPEA had a successful 2020 Legislative Session.  While Governor Herbert budgeted 2.5% for employee compensation, UPEA successfully lobbied the House and Senate to fund a higher compensation package than was proposed by the governor.  The final numbers for compensation included a 3% increase in pay, 2% for hotspots, and funding for the health insurance increase ($6.8 million) and retirement for a total compensation package of 5%.

Because of the numerous challenges surrounding COVID-19, the Utah legislature called themselves into a special session on April 16, 2020 and April 23, 2020, to discuss policy concerning the pandemic.

Representative Jefferson Moss (R) sponsored HJR301, Joint Resolution Urging Fiscal Responsibility, acknowledging economic uncertainty has been created by the COVID-19 emergency and urges state and local government entities to exercise fiscal responsibility with the remainder of their 2020 budgets and to plan to continue to limit spending in the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2020, and ending on June 30, 2021.

This resolution recognizes Utah’s economy has changed since the Legislature finalized the 2021 state budget.

State agencies, state and local government entities, the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents, institutions of higher education, and technical colleges, and local education agencies have been directed to plan for budgets for the upcoming fiscal year equal to or less than the previous year’s budget.

UPEA’s Executive Director Todd Losser reported “the Legislature will start their budget discussions at what the base budget was at the beginning of the legislative session in January 2020.  The Legislature may wait until July 2020 to adopt a final budget so it is based on the most accurate available revenue projections.”

The legislature has indicated they are looking to cut up to 10% of Utah’s $20 billion budget.  These reductions will come from state government, higher education, public education, and other areas within the budget.

State employees should not expect a pay increase on July 1, 2020.  UPEA does anticipate the health insurance increase will be funded.  However, when the economy stabilizes and revenues increase, UPEA will work with House and Senate leadership to reinstate the promised increase in compensation.  Senator Jerry Stevenson (R) has indicated “the legislature may have to hold off or delay a pay increase” but Senator Stevenson does not completely dismiss it.

The UPEA State Board of Directors has created a task force to address employee compensation and other important public employee issues relative to the COVID-19 crisis.  The task force will provide a communication plan and direction to UPEA staff and members regarding the association’s position on critical issues including employment concerns, compensation, and possible employee reductions.  UPEA will send you information on any issue as soon as it is received.

Utah’s public employees have demonstrated their dedication to the state and its citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. UPEA’s priority is to communicate and remind legislators of this service.

 

Sincerely,

UPEA Offficers and State Board

 

Lori Benton, UPEA President
labenton@utah.gov

Dennis Kay, UPEA First Vice President
dbk@infowest.com

Christie Workman, UPEA Second Vice President
cworkman@utah.gov

Debra McBride, UPEA Immediate Past President
mcbride52@outlook.com

Judy Kearns, State Board Member – Bear River District
judykearns@utah.gov

Alene Stringham, State Board Member – Ogden Valley District
alenest@aol.com

Travis Dimick, State Board Member – Law Enforcement District
tdimick@utah.gov

Jeff Olinger, State Board Member – Southeastern District
jolinger@utah.gov

Matt Briggs, State Board Member – Law Enforcement District
matthewbriggs@utah.gov

Jackie Pino, State Board Member – Law Enforcement District
jpino@utah.gov

Michael LaPray, State Board Member – Retirees District
mlapray@yahoo.com