Discounted Lagoon Passes AVAILABLE NOW for UPEA Members

UPEA Membership Exclusive

Take $10 Off Lagoon Passports

Members can enter UPEA promo code online to purchase
Single Day Passports for $69.95.

During the 2022 season, UPEA members can purchase Single Day Passports to Lagoon for $69.95 – These tickets grant admission to all park attractions including Lagoon-A-Beach, Pioneer Village, and live entertainment. 

Please enter the MEMBERS’ ACCESS PASSWORD below to reveal the promo code. 

Members can contact their UPEA representative or call
801-264-8732 ext. 200 for the access password.

This discount can only be used for online purchases through the Lagoon Park website.
Visit www.lagoonpark.com/buy-tickets, click Enter a Promo Code, then enter the code revealed above. Your members’ access password IS NOT the promo code. The discounted passports will be located at the top of the list under “Promotional Special”. Tickets will no longer be available for purchase at the UPEA office.  

You may only purchase up to 10 Single Day Passports per transaction – if you plan to buy more than 10, you will need to make an additional transaction. Please do not share UPEA’s promo code with nonmembers! Lagoon may discontinue this offer upon excessive abuse or unauthorized use of the promo code.

CONTACT US:

801-264-8732

1000 W. Bellwood Lane

Murray, UT. 84107

More from UPEA:

Scholarship Application DEADLINE EXTENDED to March 10

UPEA seeks applications for

2021 Scholarship opportunities

The 2022 Mountain America Credit Union Scholarships are financial awards based on skill, scholastic ability, community service, and future career plans. Three (3) applicants will be awarded $1,000 scholarships in March and invited to attend a recognition banquet in the fall.

The deadline to apply for these scholarships has been EXTENDED – All applications must be emailed or postmarked by THURSDAY, MARCH 10 at 5:00pm.

Only members of both Mountain America Credit Union and UPEA, their spouses, and/or their dependents are eligible. Individuals that have been awarded this scholarship within the past two years are not eligible. This two-page application must be completed by the student. All applications must be received or postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 10.


REQUIRED DOCUMENT CHECKLIST:

  • Completed application form
  • Scholastic transcripts
  • Essay
  • ACT/SAT scores (if available)

Please mail your completed application packet to:
UTAH PUBIC EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
Attn: Kendle Zdunich
1000 W. Bellwood Lane
Murray, Utah 84123

Or email your completed application and supporting documents
to Kendle Zdunich at kendle@upea.net.

In addition to this form, applicants must attach the following documents:

  1. Scholastic transcripts listing grades for the last three reporting periods at your high school/college. If available, please include your ACT/SAT scores.
  2. A written summary, no more than 300 words, explaining how the student meets the judging criteria (skill, scholastic ability, community service and employment plans) and why he/she wishes to receive the scholarship.

Your application will be scored according to the following rubric:

  • 25%—Scholastic ability
  • 25%—Demonstration of interest and skills in one or more areas outside of school
  • 25%—Demonstration of active participation in community service
  • 25%—Demonstration of defined future career plans

The Utah Public Employees’ Association and Mountain America Credit Union membership requirement is verified before applicants are considered for scholarships. Incomplete applications are not considered. Students enrolled in correspondence courses are not eligible.

Attend UPEA’s Last Virtual Legislative Forum for the 2022 Session

Every Wednesday at 12:00pm during the 2022 Legislative Session, UPEA staff will be hosting a Virtual Recruitment & Information Forum to discuss:

  • current legislation & priority bill progress
  • communicating with legislators
  • the benefits of membership
  • the importance of a strong public employee association

*Last Forum* March 2 @ NOON

We are asking our members to attend and invite nonmembers to join these virtual events. 
Join during the legislative session to receive 3 months of free membership.
Recruiters will receive a $50 incentive for each new member they recruit to join.

Meeting information:

Please contact Sam Unruh at
801-264-8732 ext. 203
or Sam@UPEA.net for more information.

Show your support and spread the word about the importance of UPEA membership.
Please SHARE THIS OPPORTUNITY with others in your office!

Full Summary of the Career Service System & H.B. 104

Career Service System & HB 104

Click the tabs below to learn more about recent legislation pertaining to Utah’s Career Service System.

UPEA was instrumental in establishing Utah’s Career Service System in 1965. Merit-based employment is vital to most categories of state workers because it prevents a “spoils system” under which politicians award government jobs as political favors and fire employees as political retribution.  Utah’s Career Service System ensures a stable, high-quality workforce that operates equitably and free of political coercion.

Utah’s career service system, also known as the merit system, protects the jobs of nearly two-thirds of state employees by guaranteeing rights of due process and equality in the workplace. The system guarantees fair compensation, retention based on performance, and access to a speedy grievance process. Dismantling or altering the career service system changes employment status to at-will and removes these protections.. At-will status means an agency can dismiss an employee without warning as long as the termination did not violate state or federal law.

During the third week of the 2021 Legislative Session, Representative Kay Christofferson (R-Lehi) released House Bill 280, State Employee Amendments, without prior communication with UPEA. The bill sought to transition any position responsible for supervising one or more employee(s) to the newly created Schedule AX (at-will) status. If the original bill had passed, existing employees in the affected positions had until May 5, 2021 to either maintain their career service status (Schedule B) or convert to career service exempt status (Schedule AX). 

Shortly after HB 280 was made public, UPEA came out in opposition to the bill. Lobbyists spoke with legislative leadership and representatives from the governor’s office to express their concerns regarding the negative impact this legislation would have on state employees. 

Before the session concluded, the sponsor drafted a substitute bill creating a task force of stakeholders to discuss state employee issues, including performance management, pay-for-performance, employee retention/turnover, and the career service system. UPEA was included in this task force along with members of the legislature, the governor’s staff, and other interested parties. UPEA supported the first substitute, however, there was not enough time for the bill to be heard or substituted before the end of the session.

During the 2021 interim, Rep. Christofferson created a work group which included representatives from DHRM, the State Auditor’s Office, the Governor’s Office, and UPEA. Over the course of the interim, UPEA staff met numerous times with all of the various stakeholders. In one of these meetings, Representative Christofferson stated his motivation for transitioning state employees to Schedule AX status is to “modernize the workforce” and eliminate poor performers that he believes agencies are unable to terminate. This comment spurred UPEA to create an internal task force to talk directly to members about what modernizing the state workforce looks like to them. 

UPEA’S INTERNAL TASKFORCE

UPEA’s internal task force convened to discuss and research state employee career service status, performance management, compensation, and the grievance process. The UPEA task force outlined their meeting process and recommendations regarding the following items:

  • Hiring and Promotion Process
  • Performance Management
  • Grievance Process and Corrective Action

Click here to review UPEA’s  task force recommendations. 

UPEA brought these findings to the stakeholder work group with the hopes of drafting a new, public employee friendly bill. Rep. Christofferson adopted many of the recommendations from the task force; however, he was not willing to remove the portion of the bill that transitioned supervisors to Schedule AX.

COMMUNICATION WITH THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

The UPEA State Board of Directors expressed concerns about eliminating career service protections for supervisors. On September 15, 2021, the State Board sent a letter to Governor Cox asking for his position regarding at-will and career service employment.  The letter to Governor Cox also stated, “These protections are in place to protect against political influence, safeguard fair hiring and termination practices, and preserve an employee’s ability to grieve an adverse job action.”

The governor’s office replied to the letter, stating that Governor Cox “understands that these discussions are central in the lives of many thousands of employees working on behalf of Team Utah and wants to communicate that our administration will continue to work alongside [UPEA] collaboratively and in good faith.  We know that the work being done is helping to modernize our workforce and deliver a strong employee value proposition to our workforce. As this bill develops and the conversation continues, our senior representatives will carry forth the governor’s collaborative spirit, making sure to keep us apprised of developments continuously.” This response, and Governor Cox’s $6 million budget recommendation to incentivize supervisors opting into schedule AX, confirmed the administration’s intent to support H.B. 104. 

SPONSOR MEETS WITH UPEA STATE BOARD

Rep. Christofferson and members of the workgroup offered to meet with the State Board. This meeting took place at the UPEA office on October 7, 2021. Rep. Christofferson stated he would like to run legislation for supervisors to have the option of moving from Schedule B (career service) to Schedule AX (at-will).  The option would be a voluntary election for current supervisors – new supervisors would be hired solely as Schedule AX employees. 

The UPEA board expressed concern on eroding the career service system and committed to continue working on the bill to protect due process rights. – check with Angie to see what the board decided.

In November 2021, the Office of the Legislative Auditor General released An In-Depth Follow-Up of the State’s Career Service System. The audit was a follow-up to an audit done in 2010 and addressed the lack of training for supervisors and recommendations from the previous audit were not fully implemented or considered. The audit revealed private entities and other at-will states have guardrails in place to provide protections and processes for their at-will employees.

House Bill 104 aimed to make all supervisory positions at-will through attrition and incentivizing current employees to forfeit their schedule B status for a 5% salary increase before FY23. The bill defined supervisors as anyone who administers a performance evaluation. The bill also included updates to the performance management software, created mandatory training for managers, established a system for performance based pay and streamlined the grievance process. 

UPEA POSITION

UPEA met with the sponsor of the bill, DHRM, and other stakeholders to voice concern over exempting specific employees from the career service system. In good faith, UPEA proposed substitute language to include limited guardrails in state code for schedule AX employees facing termination.

Rep. Christofferson rejected the proposed language and refused to substitute the bill. Following the sponsor’s decision, the UPEA State Board released a formal statement opposing HB 104. In addition, the UPEA state board prompted immediate action against HB 104, urging employees to contact members of the House Government Operations Committee about UPEA’s position, and their concerns as state employees, before the bill’s first hearing on January 26. 

The morning of the bill’s first hearing, Rep. Christofferson proposed a substitute for consideration and adoption by the House Government Operations Committee later that day. The substitute sought to transition all state employees to at-will status and limit eligibility for the pay-for-performance program to at-will employees. Once again, UPEA lobbyists took immediate action; contacting committee members and pulling them off the house floor to discuss the drastic changes presented in the substitute.

Rep. Christofferson presented 1st Substitute House Bill 104 in the House Government Operations Committee only hours later. The Executive Director of DHRM, the State Auditor, and Governor’s Chief Innovation Officer spoke in favor of the first substitute, stating that the transition to at-will employment will “modernize the workforce.” While discussing the substitute bill, many legislators acknowledged the numerous emails they received from state employees and UPEA members expressing their concerns regarding the substitute bill and the importance of the career service system as a whole.

UPEA lobbyist, Kory Holdaway, testified against the substitute bill, expressing frustration at the last-minute diversion from the original bill and the sponsor’s unwillingness to collaborate on language. The committee did not adopt the proposed substitute bill. After discussing the original bill, the Government Operations Committee passed out HB 104 with a favorable recommendation by a vote of 7-3.

Following the favorable recommendation by the House Government Operations Standing Committee, UPEA met with Rep. Christofferson to insert language to safeguard supervisors who elect at-will status (AX) or are hired into a supervisor position after July 1, 2022. Second sub HB 104 includes language that allows each agency to create their own appeal process for at-will employees. The UPEA State Board voted to support the bill after the sponsor accepted the guardrail language. 2nd sub HB 104 was passed by the House of Representatives on February 4.

2nd Sub. H.B. 104 was presented by the sponsor to the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee on Friday, February 18. During the meeting, Representative Christofferson offered 3rd Sub. H.B. 104 for consideration. The substitute allows the pay scales to move with pay for performance incentives for employees in longevity. 

UPEA spoke in favor of the bill and substitute specifically citing support for increased training provisions, streamlining the grievance process, and promoting pay for performance and merit increases. Executive Director Todd Losser addressed the AX option for supervisors. He expressed appreciation for the 2nd substitute’s implementation of guardrails for Schedule AX employees, which allowed the association to support the bill. 

Third Sub. H.B. 104 passed the Senate Government Operations Standing Committee with a favorable recommendation by a vote of 4-3 and passed the second senate reading on February, 24. The bill now sits on the Senate 3rd Reading calendar awaiting final passage. Funding for all aspects of H.B. 104 was included in the Executive Appropriations Committee approved budget items for the upcoming fiscal year.

If H.B. 104 is passed and signed by the governor as written in the 3rd Substitute, UPEA will work with each agency director to create a fair and expeditious appeal process for AX employees who receive a disciplinary action including termination. 

UPEA will remain actively involved as H.B. 104 is implemented and ensure that the agreed upon protections are put in place by each agency. The UPEA State Board has already begun discussing a strategy against any potential legislation to further erode the career service system.

Members Attend UPEA’s 3rd Annual Public Employee Day on the Hill

On Wednesday, February 9th, UPEA held the 3rd annual Public Employee Day on the Hill at the Utah State Capitol building. The day began in the Capitol Board Room on the main floor of the Capitol where attendees met for breakfast. UPEA Executive Director Todd Losser spoke to the members in attendance about UPEA’s lobbying efforts and important bills this session. UPEA lobbyist, and former legislator, Korey Holdaway presented a training on the do’s and don’ts of contacting your legislator. Attendees were provided with materials and talking points to address letters to their senators and representatives.

Over the next couple hours, legislators came to speak with UPEA members and answer questions about public employee issues and bills that could impact them. A special thank you to Rep. Welton, Sen. Reibe, Sen. Harper, Rep. Wilcox, Rep. King, Sen. Owens, Rep. Snyder, and Rep. Judkins who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with association members.

After breakfast, the group went to the House of Representatives to attend Floor Time. Rep. Dunnigan formally recognized the UPEA members in the gallery and thanked them for their work and participation in the legislative process. Following his personal privilege, Rep. Dunnigan escorted the group to the Majority Caucus Room to answer their questions. Attendees then had the opportunity to pull their legislators from the House and Senate Floors to introduce themselves and hand deliver letters written earlier in the day.

After a lunch break, a docent from the Capitol Preservation Board took the attendees on a tour, sharing information about the history, art, and architecture of the Capitol. Attendees sat in the Supreme Court and walked through the basement of the Capitol to see the seismic base isolators that protect the building from earthquake damage. 

Following the tour, a few members stayed to accompany UPEA staff to the Senate Health and Human Services Standing Committee where Rep. Wilcox presented 2nd Sub. House Bill 23 First Responder Mental Health Services Amendments.To close out a successful Public Employee Day on the Hill, Todd Losser spoke in favor of the bill before it was passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation.

Thank you to all of our members who attended the Day on the Hill, we look forward to next year’s event!

Priority Bill Progress – 2022 Session, Week 4

1st Sub HB 12 – Public Safety Retirement Amendments

First Substitute House Bill 12, Public Safety Retirement Amendments, sponsored by Representative Gwynn was heard by the House Political Subdivisions Committee on Friday, February 11. The “bill modifies requirements related to retirement from a public safety or firefighter requirement system.” It “reduces the length of the period of separation for post-retirement reemployment of a retiree from a public safety system or a firefighter retirement system.” Gwynn is proposing the bill to help address recruitment and retention challenges agencies are currently facing. He explained to the committee that by reducing the amount of time employees have to be retired from the state before being reemployed will be beneficial and help get experienced officers to stay in the state of Utah. The first substitute outlines that an employee must have a clear separation of employment of 90 days before post-retirement employment and the employee retiring cannot negotiate employment prior to retiring. The bill passed out of the committee with a favorable recommendation and is now headed to the House floor for a vote. 

1st Sub HB 233 – Disability Benefit Amendments

Last Friday, February 11, the House Government Operations Standing Committee heard 1st Substitute House Bill 233 Disability Benefit Amendments sponsored by Representative King. The bill seeks to address a disparity between physical and mental health when it comes to long term disability coverage under the Public Employee Health Plan (PEHP). 

If an employee has a disabling condition, they are eligible for monthly income replacement for up to two years. However after the two year time frame, employees must prove that the condition is solely caused by a physical medical impairment. If the disabling condition is due in whole or part by a mental health condition, employees are not eligible for disability coverage after two years. Rep. King is seeking to remove this verbiage from policy to seek equity between mental and physical impairments. 

The sponsor ran the bill in 2020 but it was delayed due to the fiscal note. This year, PEHP recommended the 1st Sub. which makes the bill a three year pilot program. After addressing the financial impact, Rep. King will run a bill to adopt the practice permanently. 

Executive Director of UPEA, Todd Losser, spoke in favor of 1st substitute House Bill 233. The bill was passed out of committee with a unanimous favorable recommendation.

Utah’s Budget Process & 2022 Executive Appropriations Committees

Utah’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (GOPB), Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst (LFA), and the Utah State Tax Commission gather and analyze revenue data monthly. Each November, GOPB, LFA, and Utah State Tax Commission adjust the state’s revenue forecast for the upcoming fiscal year, and the Governor’s budget makes recommendations based on the forecast. To prepare for the budget process during the legislative session, state agencies, public education, and higher education submit planned expenditures and budget change requests to GOPB. The Governor’s budget recommendations take into account an analysis of anticipated revenues, base budgets, and new budget requests.

The annual 45-day legislative session begins with appropriations subcommittee meetings. Each legislator is assigned to at least one appropriations subcommittee. The LFA prepares recommendations for the committees after analyzing the Governor’s budget recommendations. Each subcommittee analyzes the budget of their assigned topic area, hearing presentations from state agencies, stakeholders, and legislators. Each subcommittee makes a recommendation to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC). The EAC is comprised of minority and majority leadership from both the House and the Senate, and makes final budgetary decisions for the budget bills.

The annual 45-day legislative session begins with appropriations subcommittee meetings. Each legislator is assigned to at least one appropriations subcommittee. The LFA prepares recommendations for the committees after analyzing the Governor’s budget recommendations. Each subcommittee analyzes the budget of their assigned topic area, hearing presentations from state agencies, stakeholders, and legislators. Each subcommittee makes a recommendation to the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC). The EAC is comprised of minority and majority leadership from both the House and the Senate, and makes final budgetary decisions for the budget bills.

UPEA Continues Lobbying Efforts for Compensation Funding

UPEA lobbyists are busy fighting to secure the largest total compensation package for state employees in over a decade. UPEA supports the recommendations from Governor Spencer Cox’s proposed budget, which was released Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The governor’s recommendations include a 3.5% salary increase for state employees, funding for the projected 6.7% health insurance increase, and continuity of the 401(k) match ($26 a pay period match for employees). 

Additionally, the Governor’s budget proposed funding over $12 million for targeted pay increases for below-market positions. This year, the targeted compensation list included all positions that were 15% or more below their market counterpart, based on an independent survey. UPEA will lobby to fully fund the recommendations for targeted compensation in FY23 and will continue to prioritize targeted compensation to address market discrepancies in future years.

Appropriations Subcommittees Reports – Week Three

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.

Appropriations Subcommittees – Week Two Reports

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.

Click on the committee name below to read the full week two update.

The Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee heard from the Department of Government Operations (DGO) during the second week of the 2022 Legislative Session. Director Jenney Rees introduced the committee to the new department created by SB 181 last year, explaining the purpose of consolidating DTS, DHRM, and DAS into one new agency made sense because each of the agencies serves people in state government. The bill’s goal was to break down silos and create a more efficient way to provide services to employees. There are 1,300 DGO employees within the nine divisions (Office of Administrative Rules, Division of Archives and Records Services, Division of Facilities and Construction Management, Division of Finance, Division of Fleet Operations, Division of Human Resource Management, Division of Purchasing and General Services, Division of Risk Management, and Division of Technology Services). Since being appointed to the position, Rees has gone on “day in the life” tours of the divisions to learn what the employees do and find ways to improve the services they perform. She stressed to the committee the employees of DGO have a strong desire to serve Utah, and the state can’t do anything without its employees.

Rees emphasized the state’s issues facing recruitment and retention. The independent market study conducted by Gallagher showed a decrease from 2019 to 2021 in the number of highly competitive state jobs. The study showed Tier II employees more closely align with the private sector, and the state now has a majority of Tier II employees. Twenty-six percent of state employees are now retirement eligible. Gallagher advised increases for positions that are 15% or more below the market median to address recruitment and retention. Rees stated 315 DGO employees are on the governor’s proposed targeted list this year. Rees also asked the committee to fund two new positions in the executive director’s office, as DGO is the only department of its size without an internal auditor or finance director. She also requested the committee pass funding to increase the pay ranges for finance employees because of challenges in recruiting.

During the Division of Technology Services presentation, Director Alan Fuller referenced the state’s out-of-date technology, expressing that changes need to happen to support executive branch agencies. Fuller outlined the agency funding request to implement the Citizen Portal, a project included in the governor’s budget to integrate customer information, improve data privacy, and increase service delivery. Another agency request is funding for the Enterprise Platform and Innovation Centers. This funding aims to automate business processes, provide better agency support, allow easier access via the cloud, require no specialized skill set, and empower agencies. Fuller also emphasized the funding request for a new Human Capital Management and Payroll system to modernize core enterprise-wide systems and reduce/consolidate redundant systems.

Division of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Director John Barrand explained the statewide HR challenges the division is facing–attracting and recruiting, managing and developing, and rewarding and retaining. Barrand stated that DHRM needs to build a modern workforce to streamline and modernize. To do this, DHRM aims to increase investments in new and existing infrastructures to support modern workforce and remote work and increase employee and supervisor accountability by improving performance management culture, system, and processes. DHRM budget requests include funding for 6 FTEs to develop and implement the training for pay for performance outlined in HB 104 and support the five percent pay increase in HB 104 for supervisors/managers who forfeit career service status.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) presented to the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee during week two of the 2022 Legislative Session. UDAF expressed staffing concerns, noting that additional compensation funding can help recruit and retain employees. The Laboratory Services Division is one of the divisions facing staffing challenges. UDAF explained lab employment requires scientific degrees, training, and understanding of testing regulations. During the pandemic, the division lost employees to higher-paying positions, moving out of state for lower cost of living, and choosing self-employment. The division stressed that if turnover continues at this rate, the testing capabilities will decrease. The Regulatory Services Division faces challenges in turnover, recruitment, training, and certifying new employees. UDAF also requests three additional FTEs for inspector positions to meet growing needs. UDAF shared with the committee that they are working with 5.5 dedicated inspectors when the Manufactured Food Program should have at least 15 dedicated inspectors. The UDAF administration also asks for funds for additional staff and compensation for financial support staff. The current team is stretched too thin and needs other staff to meet findings and recommendations presented in an audit done of the division.

The committee also heard from the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands, and Division of Wildlife Resources. SITLA stressed the need for four additional FTE positions to meet the growing needs of the administration and the necessity of funding the suggested increases in the market comparability study. SITLA can’t hire people from the private sector to fill positions because of the salaries offered. The Division of Wildlife Resources is exploring a salary improvement plan to tie high performance to wage increases to retain talent and boost morale. The Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands presented in support and need for the targeted funding requests for their employees on the list.

The Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee adopted House Bill 7, Social Services Base Budget, co-sponsored by Rep. Ward and Sen. Anderegg on Friday,  Jan. 27, 2022. The Social Services Committaee meets daily and has the largest base budget, encompassing $6.6 billion in requests for appropriations. In the first two weeks of the session, agency heads from the Department of Workforce Services and the newly-merged Department of Health and Human Services were among those who presented before the committee. 

Since the 2021 Legislative Session, the Department of Workforce Services has made internal strides to increase the starting pay of some jobs to attract talented and qualified applicants. While the increase helped address recruitment, compression worsened among existing staff that are already paid below the market median rate. The Department is requesting $1,059,100 to fund the positions on the Targeted Funding list. Agency heads hope that the discretionary funding will help address compression and employee morale by incentivizing longevity and high performance. 

Employee retention and compensation were top priorities for the Department of Health and Human Services. The department currently has 5,536 employees and 2,165 position vacancies. The agency has an average 28% turnover rate and is experiencing critical staffing shortages at 24-7 facilities. Representatives from the agency focused on the Division of Child and Family Services, Juvenile Justice Services, and the care staff at the State Hospital and the Developmental Center. The department is requesting $7,819,900 from the General Fund to support increases for the positions listed in the Targeted Funding list. Of that request, $3,239,800 is specifically earmarked for the frontline staff at the State Hospital and the Developmental Center.

The Office of the Medical Examiner also made a request to the Social Services Committee to address a critical need for additional FTEs to address burdensome caseloads. In order to improve medical examiner investigation completion times, the office is requesting 3 autopsy assistants, 1 assistant medical examiner, and 1 medicolegal death investigator.

The Executive Office & Criminal Justice (EOCJ) Appropriations Subcommittee heard from the Department of Corrections (DOC) on Wednesday, January 26. Department directors provided an update on the new prison, which will be fully operational in July of this year, before going through their funding requests. Director Brian Nelson explained that the Department of Corrections is experiencing “critical staffing levels” with 187 combined operational vacancies between the Draper prison and community correctional centers. To address this issue, DOC is requesting $15,243,200 in ongoing appropriations to fully fund their Certified Officer Pay Plan.

DOC Deputy Director, James Hudspeth, further explained the priority request, “What we hope to do with this funding is to implement the pay plan fully, which will help us and help our staff. As we talk about recruitment and retention, we’re losing staff to other agencies – we have 17% turnover in our correctional officers. [When they move to other agencies] they’re being paid one-for-one for their years of service, and we have a hard time doing that.”

This request was included in the Governor’s budget recommendations, along with $1,237,300 in targeted compensation increases for the following 12 additional positions in the department:

  • Accounting Technician III
  • Administrative Secretary
  • Caseworker II
  • Criminal Information Tech II
  • Custodian I
  • Custodian II
  • Facilities Coordinator III
  • Office Specialist I
  • Office Specialist II
  • Program Specialist I
  • Warehouse Manager
  • Warehouse Worker II