For the first few weeks of each session, the Utah State Legislature reviews base budgets and funding requests in appropriations subcommittees. These meetings occur daily until base budgets are finalized by each subcommittee. During this process, subcommittees hear presentations from agencies, fiscal analysts, and legislators about numerous funding requests. Each committee compiles a list of funding priorities, in addition to their base budget items, for the Executive Appropriations Committee to consider for final approval.
UPEA lobbyists attend appropriations subcommittees to track any potential changes for public employees as legislators and agencies make their priority requests for ongoing and one-time funding. During the process, UPEA lobbyists speak with legislators to protect, inform, and improve public employee jobs.
The Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee will prioritize and vote on their budget on Tuesday, February 8. To prepare for their final meeting, the committee heard from the Division of Facilities Construction Management. DFCM expressed the challenges of “disparities in competitive wages and compensation when compared to the private sector.” This has directly resulted in decreased retention. DFCM also acknowledged that the lack of a formal apprenticeship program makes it difficult to recruit and supply chain issues are creating further challenges to complete projects.
The committee has also been hearing requests for appropriations (RFA). The committee has heard from many agencies about the needs for new buildings. These will be included on the budget list, and next week’s update will give more insight on how requests stand.
Senator Weiler presented an RFA for SB 100 Paid Leave Modifications. This bill has a $1.7 million fiscal note and approves 3 weeks of paid leave for the birth of the employee’s child, the adoption of a minor child, or the appointment of legal guardianship of a minor child or incapacitated adult. This is on top of the 3 weeks of postpartum recovery leave passed last session.
The Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee finished up week three of the session hearing from the Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Water Rights and Division of Water Resources. Both divisions echoed the challenges in recruiting and retaining employees. Division of Water Resources shared employee turnover is up to 24%. The subcommittee will prioritize and vote on their budget on Wednesday, February 9.
Last week, the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee met daily to hear Request for Appropriation presentations and begin discussing, prioritizing, and voting on the final budget. Due to the extensive number of appropriation requests, the committee has separated all compensation requests from the rest of the appropriation items and will conclude prioritization during week 4 of the session. Click here for a link to the compensation line items.
The Department of Public Safety presented their appropriations requests on Tuesday, February 1, which included a $14 million priority request to fund their Sworn Officer Pay Plan.
The Executive Office & Criminal Justice Subcommittee also began hearing legislator requests for appropriations (RFA) this week, including a request from Representative Ryan Wilcox for $7,000,000 to fund a DNR Peace Office Pay Plan. Over the past year, UPEA has worked with Rep. Wilcox on this legislation to address an existing discrepancy between DNR officers and other peace officers in the state. Over the last several years, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Public Safety have implemented career ladders for their certified officers – these plans grant salary increases or “steps” to reward existing officers for their time and experience within the department, while also serving as a recruitment incentive for officers interested in state employment. This funding implements a similar plan for DNR peace officers.
The committee will review all funding requests and submit their priority list to the Executive Appropriations Committee during week 4 of the session.