Utah State Legislature Conducts Fifth Special Session to Address the COVID-19 Impact

The Utah State Legislature met in a Special Session on June 19, 2020, to continue their discussions of revising the state budget due to the impact of COVID-19 and the resulting reduction in revenue.

The legislature asked the chairs of the Legislative Appropriations Subcommittees to discuss reductions in state government, higher education, public education, and other areas within the budget.  These entities were directed to plan for budgets for the upcoming fiscal year equal to or less than the previous year’s budget.

The legislature indicated they would like to keep reductions at a 2% threshold and the Legislative Appropriations Subcommittees reviewed agency scenarios for 2%, 5%, and 10% budget reductions.  These proposals were submitted to the Executive Appropriations Committee.  Agencies ended up with 1.7% budget cuts.

The Legislature passed the following items during the Special Session:

SB5001 – Budget Balancing and Coronavirus Relief Appropriations Adjustments.  This bill, along with a bill to adjust public education budgets, makes appropriations adjustments to balance the state budget for FY2020 and FY2021, in accordance with revenue estimates that project a decline from February 2020 revenue estimates of ($757 million) ongoing and ($93 million) one-time.

This bill also reversed most new General/Education Fund appropriations from the 2020 General Session.  Reduced based budgets, used reserves, and appropriated money from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, part of the CARES Act.

SCR502 – Concurrent Resolution on Refunding Excess Funds to the State from the State Insurance Risk Pools.  Due to the emergency resulting from COVID-19, this concurrent resolution directs excess reserves be refunded to the state by PEHP.

The legislature also funded the state’s portion of the health insurance increase for state employees.

The current revenue projections will be adjusted by the legislature depending on whether there is an increase or a decrease in revenue.  UPEA will continue to stay vigilant in their commitment to communicate state employee salary and benefit needs to the legislature.