UPEA Blog

UPEA Offers Assistance to Members Facing Disciplinary Action

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is a valuable resource when an employee encounters any workplace issues. UPEA staffers hope that their members never experience disciplinary action; however, representatives are available for our members if workplace issues arise. From written warnings to terminations, UPEA can represent its members throughout the grievance process and use UPEA resources to help employees navigate the procedure. UPEA staff is knowledgeable about DHRM policy and can help employees understand their grievance rights, prepare statements and responses, provide physical representation at hearings, and coordinate with our employment attorney at Kirton & McConkie to address legal questions that may arise. All of these services are included in membership in UPEA, no further costs are associated.

Here is what members say about their experience with UPEA during the grievance process:

“I am so grateful for getting the opportunity to work with [my UPEA representative]. She was patient and understanding. She helped me look at my situation from different angles and make it better. UPEA is here to help; take the chance, even if you don’t feel like it will help, it’s so worth it!”
Salt Lake County employee

“I know I can call [my UPEA representative] and ask questions, or just ask for her opinion and it is provided without judgment or hesitation.  I mentor new employees and always encourage them to join; I provide firsthand testimony of how UPEA helps us to grow personally and professionally. I am UPEA’s biggest supporter. Thank you to the UPEA team for all you do.”
— Department of Workforce Services employee

All UPEA members have access to grievance representation after six months of membership. If you have any questions or concerns about your employment or you’ve been given a disciplinary action, please don’t hesitate to contact your UPEA representative.

Flu Shot Clinics Will Proceed with Pandemic-Related Precautions

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) will once again host flu shot clinics in partnership with Community Nursing Services (CNS). These clinics are open to all state employees and their families and will be held at state agency locations throughout Utah. A full schedule will be released as soon as all of the events are finalized.

The health and safety of employees and their families is our priority; therefore, certain precautions must be taken for you to attend:

  • All employees must reserve a five-minute time slot in advance to get the shot. If you’re bringing family members, each individual needs a time slot.
    • If you arrive early, please wait outside or in your car until your reserved time.
  • Everyone in attendance must wear a mask and maintain social distance.
  • If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, have a fever of 100.3 or above, or have been in contact with anyone testing positive for COVID-19, we ask you follow CDC guidelines and cancel your appointment.

If you are insured by PEHP, there will be no cost or co-pay required. If you have a different provider, please bring your health insurance card and photo identification. CNS will bill any of its accepted insurance providers.

If you have any questions, please contact Kendle Zdunich at 801-264-8732 ext. 209 or Kendle@upea.net.

 

August Legislative Interim Summary

Business, Economic Development, & Labor Appropriations Subcommittee

Utah’s 5.1% unemployment rate is the second lowest in the nation, but the state still has 71,000 fewer jobs than it did in February, when the unemployment rate was at its lowest, Andrea Wilko, PhD, told the Legislature’s Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee on Aug. 17.

Wilko, chief economist in the Legislative Fiscal Analysts’ Office, said new unemployment claims have fallen by 28% in the past two weeks. Before the pandemic, Utah had an unemployment rate of about 3% and the goal is to return to that rate within the year.

Wilko also discussed tax revenue, telling lawmakers that both income taxes, which feed the Education Fund, and sales taxes, which feed the General Fund, are projected to meet their revenue estimate goals for FY21.

Extra unemployment benefits and other federal stimulus payments, as well as online sales tax revenue that has increased during the pandemic, likely bolstered sales tax revenue. She warned that sales tax collections could experience volatility as the year goes on if the pandemic worsens or if economic shutdowns occur.  Additionally, the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit expired on July 31, and the uncertainty of further federal stimulus actions may affect FY21 sales tax collections.

However, as of now, revenue projections coupled with legislative budget cuts are keeping the General Fund stable.

Infrastructure & General Government Appropriations Subcommittee

The director of the Department of Administrative Services on Aug. 17 thanked members of the Infrastructure & General Government Appropriations Subcommittee for allowing the agencies to decide how best to implement budget cuts imposed during a legislative special session.

Tani Pack Downing told lawmakers agencies are grateful that the cuts did not require them to terminate any employees, but, “all of the agencies felt the impact of the removal of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and the pain of the pandemic,” she said.

These actions meant agencies were unable to use incentive awards and salary increases to retain high-performing employees. “Growing compensation imbalances have caused high turnover and near impossible recruiting options,” she said, creating challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified employees.

Retirement & Independent Entities Interim Subcommittee

Dan Anderson of Utah Retirement Systems (URS), had mixed news for the Retirement & Independent Entities Subcommittee when he presented to the group on Aug. 14.

“The good news is that the calculated actuarial rate is basically the same as it was, which means that we are not worried about the actual retirement funds,” Anderson said. “However, the bad news is that [URS] will likely not reach the 6.95% return on investment”.

While a lower rate of return raises some concern, Anderson reminded lawmakers that URS sets its return on investment lower than the national average each year in case there is a period of market volatility. Experts predict that returns on investment will only be about 1.5% lower, which “is not great, but not as bad as it could be thanks to the smart investing of URS and the fiscal guidance of the Legislature,” he said.

Sen. Gene Davis, D-South Salt Lake, asked about the status of URS’s unfunded liability and questioned whether the pandemic has slowed the time it will take for URS to reach fully funded status. Anderson explained that any decrease in return on investment will ultimately delay the achievement of full funding. However, Utah is still about a decade away the date it targeted to reach full funding.

Dee Larsen of URS told lawmakers it would cost the state $20 million to move all public safety officers and firefighters under the Tier 1 retirement system, a goal discussed during previous meetings.  Over 15 years, the cost would exceed $677 million, he said.

“We would prefer that everyone be treated the same retirement-wise, but it does pose significant cost to make the playing field entirely equal, said Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville”

Larsen added that employees also would be affected because they also would pay more toward Tier 1 retirement.

Davis suggested that the issue should be addressed at a future meeting with all stakeholders, and colleagues agreed.

Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, 20% of Department of Health (DOH) employees had been approved for telework through a pilot program, officials told the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on Aug. 17. However, , 80% of DOH employees switched to telework as a result of the pandemic.

A preliminary survey of employees showed that 52% of employees expressed interest in continuing to telework after the state moves to the “green” risk phase, but executive management believes that up to 70% of employees may continue to telework even after some return to the office.

The telework savings analysis showed that there is potential for cost saving with the implementation of teleworking on a larger scale indefinitely. Quantifying the savings at this stage of the process is difficult due to all of the one-time costs associated with a large conversion of employees to teleworking. It is anticipated that the greatest cost savings from teleworking would be from the reduction of leased building space.

For the Department of Workforce Services (DWS), 344 employees, or 17% of the department’s full-time equivalent workforce, were working remotely on a regular basis before March 12. Since then, the department has been able to temporarily expand routine telework opportunities to approximately 1,059 additional employees.  This action was taken to safeguard the health and well‐being of the workforce and to support Gov. Gary Herbert’s directive “to enable employees to work from home as a first option.”

The total number of employees currently working remotely represents approximately 69% of the department’s full‐time equivalent workforce. The department is still evaluating the extent to which these teleworking opportunities will become permanent after the pandemic and they anticipate the estimate will change over time.

DWS also found the potential for ongoing savings by permanently vacating facility space; however, the savings will be offset by related one‐time and ongoing expenses including remodeling, relocation expenses, internet and phone reimbursement for employees who work remotely, and information security costs.

UPEA Seeks Nominations for Second Vice President

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) seeks nominations for second vice president. Election to the position is a four-year commitment. The successful candidate will serve one year as second vice president, one year as first vice president, one year as president, and one year as immediate past president.

To be considered a candidate for second vice president a nominee must:

  • be a dues-paying member of UPEA for two years before the nomination
  • serve at least one year as a chapter or district officer or board member, or as an Advisory Council representative

Qualified nominees must notify the UPEA office of their intent to run by Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. Nominees also must submit the following documents by the deadline:

  • a letter of recommendation from their respective district
  • a resumé outlining their involvement in UPEA, employment history, and participation in community or volunteer opportunities

Nominations will not be accepted for any individual who has served as immediate past president in the past year.

According to the UPEA bylaws, a primary election will be held if more than two qualified candidates are nominated for second vice president. If needed, a primary election will be held from Dec. 15, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2021.  A general election will be held from Feb. 1 to March 1, 2021.  Ballots will be counted on March 7, 2021, or on the first workday after March 7, 2021, to determine the winner.

The second vice president serves as chairman of the UPEA Resolutions Committee and officially represents the State Board as a voting member on the CAPE Committee. The first vice president serves as chairman of the UPEA Legislative Committee, which oversees the Association’s legislative activity throughout the year.

Please submit any nominations and required documentation to Kendle Zdunich at Kendle@upea.net or at the UPEA offices, 1000 W. Bellwood Lane, Murray, UT, 84123.  If you have any questions, please contact Kendle at (801) 264-8732.

Stop By for the First Ever Drive-Thru Appreciation Lunch

Due to current health & safety guidelines, we are unable to host our Public Employee Appreciation Days as we have in the past – but we still want to show our appreciation and support for public employees! Swing by the UPEA office on Tuesday, July 14 anytime from 11:00am-1:00pm to grab a boxed lunch at our first ever Public Employee Appreciation Day Drive-Thru!

Members and non-members are welcome! All attendees must stay in their cars. In order to keep the flow of traffic, please follow the posted signs for directions upon arrival.

Legislators Hear Reports and Debate Telework for State Employees Going Forward

During a June 15 meeting of the Legislature’s Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee, legislators heard reports on the status of teleworking from Senior Consultant, Jeff Mottishaw of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB). Mr. Mottishaw discussed data collected on teleworking by the Department of Human Resources (DHRM).

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some agencies had already implemented telework. Some agencies had plans in place they had yet to implement, and others were studying telework for the future. Once the pandemic arrived in Utah these efforts were accelerated, DHRM reported.

The shutdown forced some public services to be suspended for a short period of time, but almost all other services were automated and moved online to limit face-to-face contact.

Going forward, agencies anticipate a new normal. Agency heads have informed DHRM that they intend to increase teleworking activities, especially for administrative staff. Services are continuing to be expanded online and virtual meetings are being integrated with customer interfaces. At agencies where employees are needed in the office, efforts are being made to stagger their workdays. The state will be on par if not ahead of the private sector in implemented telework if efforts continue as they have.

Mr. Mottishaw and his team received feedback from employees in the Department of Human Services through an anonymous survey. “Our employees are happier with the flexible schedules and work environment, which leads to less stress and higher morale…We have helped with less pollution and congestion on the roads.”

Communication with both supervisors and coworkers among those who are teleworking is reported to be 96% effective. Long-term telework interest is high for 86% of those surveyed. DHRM also reported to Mr. Mottishaw that while most of the telework outcomes have not impacted efficiency, there have been impacts on team collaboration and connectivity. Employees who do not wish to continue teleworking cite missing the in-office social interaction or not wanting to give up their dedicated office space.

DHRM relayed to the GOMB that operating expenses have decreased by 15%, and it is estimated that by December 2020, there will be cost savings of $178 per employee, per month, for a year-end total of 28.6% in savings.

Legislators were pleased that the transition to teleworking has gone as smoothly as it has and that a large majority of employees have reported enjoying teleworking. Teleworking will be studied more this year to determine its future.

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.

DABC Requests Change to Agency Funding to Increase Employee Wages

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) on June 15 presented a new funding proposal to the Legislature’s Business and Labor Interim Committee. In the past eight years, the agency has increased revenue by 60% but experiences 86% employee turnover due to low pay. Last year, employee turnover cost the DABC $1,272,945 due to hiring and training costs.

DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos explained the current budget allocation to the agency from the state’s General Fund is not enough to meet operational expenses and increase pay. DABC proposed the state consider providing it with a percentage of the agency’s gross revenue. This additional funding would go toward hiring additional people, increasing wages and training, and improving customer service.

Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, made a motion to open a committee bill file to address this issue, and vowed to work with Rep. Tim Hawkes, R-Centerville, and the agency to come up with a solution. The motion carried unanimously with Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, the committee chairman, stating the request is reasonable, and employees need to be treated better.

URS and PEHP Report Financial Stability Despite the Current Economic Downtown

The Legislature’s Retirement and Independent Entities (R&EI) Interim Committee held its first virtual meeting on June 22. This committee oversees institutions that include Utah Retirement Systems (URS) and the Public Employees’ Health Plan (PEHP). During this meeting, representatives of these entities summarized their end-of-year reports, shared initial impacts of COVID-19, and offered long-term projections.

Utah has once again greatly benefited from the fiscal responsibility URS – demonstrates year after year. Last year was a successful year for URS participants and the entity’s stakeholders.

Dee Larson, URS general counsel, listed a few record achievements for URS. First, the member account balances (401(k), 457, and Roth and traditional IRAs) reached $6.7 billion. Second, the net increase in all balances was more than $1.08 billion. Third, employee and employer contributions reached $428.6 million. And finally, benefit payments from accounts totaled $376.9 million.

“While 2019 was a good year for the fund, we know that the COVID‐19 pandemic presents challenges in 2020,” Larson said.  “The Retirement Board continues to monitor, analyze, and manage the fund’s investments. We don’t expect, nor do we need, lofty returns year after year. Our fund is built to maximize long‐term returns throughout all types of market cycles, with an emphasis on downside protection.”

URS attributes its strong, well-funded retirement system to the many participating employers and elected officials who share the same long-term goals and remain committed to responsible funding.

On March 30, Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order allowing the temporary, limited suspension of some provisions of the Utah Post-retirement Reemployment Restrictions Act during the COVID‐19 state of emergency. This allowed some retirees without a one‐year break in service to be temporarily re‐employed in positions performing critical government functions while continuing to receive their monthly pension benefits. Larson said that seven employees have taken advantage of this so far.

PEHP maintains funding in a “medical risk pool” to cover any unexpected increases in health insurance claims. The PEHP statute limits the amount of reserves that can be in this fund at any given time. In the event the funding risk pool exceeds that cap, PEHP will return the excess to its members in a rebate.

PEHP Executive Director Chet Loftus reported that the impact of COVID-19 on the medical risk pool has been fairly minor. PEHP has been able to give back more than $40 million in excess reserves in the past 30 days, with $30.7 million of that going directly to state employees.

While PEHP has seen a drop in medical and dental claims, pharmaceutical claims initially increased due to concern over the availability of medication during the pandemic.

Loftus informed the committee PEHP will cover any costs associated with testing and treatment of COVID-19. As of April 30, 64 PEHP policyholders have tested positive for Coronavirus, 6 of whom required hospitalization with costs ranging from $6,000 to $192,000.

UPEA will continue to update members through the interim on the Utah Retirement Systems and Public Employee Health Plan. If you have questions on URS or PEHP legislation please reach out to your employee representative.

Appropriations Subcommittees Approve Budget Cut Scenarios

The chairs of the Legislative Appropriations Subcommittees scheduled electronic meetings last week to discuss reductions in state government, higher education, public education, and other areas within the 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.

The legislature has indicated they would like to keep reductions at a 2% threshold.  The probability of 5-10% budget cuts will depend on the economic recovery and whether there is an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The UPEA staff electronically attended the appropriations subcommittee meetings.  The subcommittees reviewed the proposed agency scenarios for 2%, 5%, and 10% budget reductions.  After considering the agency proposals and public comments, the subcommittees will submit their recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee for final approval.  UPEA will inform you when the Executive Appropriations Committee will meet and make final decisions regarding the budget.

The following is a summary of each meeting.

Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee

The Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee met on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to review the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Workforce Services budgets.  These agencies administer a variety of public health and social services programs.  Senator Luz Escamilla (D) was an advocate for avoiding 10% budget cuts to any social services programs and emphasized the importance of employees who are providing these services during the pandemic.

Department of Human Services

  • 2 % cuts:
    • Delay refilling vacant positions and imposing hiring freezes when possible.
    • The Office of Recovery Services (ORS) can permanently close their lobbies to the public for walk-in services in Salt Lake, Ogden, and Provo and meet with clients by appointment only. This change would eliminate 10 FTEs who work in the reception area.
    • Eliminate 1.2% or about 5 FTEs from ORS (large FTE reductions could have significant impacts).
  • 5 % cuts:
    • End Child and Family Services No-Access Perpetrator Investigations and continue database documentation, which will result in a reduction of 10 FTEs.
    • Reduce staffing in the Office of Quality and Design by 3 FTE’s (may lead to reduced contract monitoring).
    • Reduce staffing in Services for People with Disabilities by 7% or about 8 FTE.
    • Streamline and reduce the number of Quality Case Reviews, potential loss of 1 FTE
    • Reduce DCFS administrative staff by 10 FTE’s.
    • Further reduce staffing in ORS by 2% or 8 FTEs’.
  • 10 % cuts:
    • Reduce staffing in Executive Director operations by 6% or 8.5 FTE’s.
    • Reduce staffing at Utah State Developmental Center 9% or 54 FTE’s.
    • Reduce staffing at Adult Protective Services by 2% or 1 FTE.
    • Reduce staffing for Aging and Adult Services by 7% or 1 FTE.
    • Further reduce staffing in Services for People with Disabilities by 10% or 11 FTE’s.
    • Close one adult bed unit at the Utah State Hospital which will result in a staffing decrease of 11 FTE’s.
    • Further reduce Child and Family Services administrative staff by 5% or 8 FTE’s.

Department of Health

  • 2 % cuts:
    • Eliminate vacant Bureau Director Position.
    • This item reduces one division finance administrative staff and spreads work over five other FTE’s.
    • End Cytomegalovirus public awareness campaign, eliminating 1 FTE.
  • 5 % cuts:
    • Reduction of executive secretary
  • 10 % cuts:
    • Eliminate part-time finance position
    • Increased time for background checks due to elimination of 1 FTE.
    • Reduction of services provided by health care statistics, eliminating 1 FTE.
    • Reduce or end funding for state-wide stroke and cardiac registry, eliminating 1-3 FTE’s.
    • Eliminate one office specialist at the Children’s Health Insurance Progr
    • Eliminate 2 FTE’s, increasing inspection time for assisted living facilities and personal care agencies from 24 to 50 months.
    • End Alzheimer’s state plan funding which will result in elimination of 1 FTE.

Department of Workforce Services

  • 2 % cuts: No FTE’s cut
    • Return unspent funds from numerous programs to the General Fund.
  • 5 % cuts: No FTE’s cut
    • Redistribute grant funds.
  • 10 % cuts:
    • Further reduce or end the General Assistance (GA) Program eliminating 7-12 FTE’s.

The committee took public comment on Friday, May 30, 2020, and voted to change the priority order, and remove some items, from the potential budget cuts. Items removed from the list of budget cuts included: ending state funding for autism preschools; ending Child and Family Services No-Access Perpetrator Investigations and end data-base documentation (cut 7 FTE positions); staffing reductions at ORS (cut 10 FTE positions); and, eliminate dental services for 40,000 clients with disabilities (cut 1 FTE position). These programs along with many others will not be considered for budget reductions.

Business Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee

The Business Economic Development & Labor Appropriations Subcommittee met on the morning of Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to discuss potential budget cuts between 2-10%. The Labor Commission, Department of Insurance, Tax Commission, Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) along with the Fiscal Analyst’s office presented the proposed budget reductions.

  • 2-5% range:
    • All agencies, except the Department of Commerce and the DABC, did not propose cuts to FTE’s. Most agencies have enough vacant positions that they can leave these positions unfilled and still meet the 2-5% budget cuts including cuts to in-state travel, limiting attendance at conferences, and going without new technology upgrades.
    • The Department of Commerce and the DABC both proposed very limited cuts to FTE’s. These two agencies indicated they can offer early retirement incentives to eliminate FTE positions.
  • 10% range:
    • The Department of Insurance and the Department of Commerce indicated that budget cuts to their agencies will not benefit the General Fund.
    • The Tax Commission, along with the other agencies urged legislators to avoid all 10% budget cuts if possible, a 10% budget cut will result in $88 million in lost revenue for the state.

In addition, GOED uses state appropriations to fund many festivals, concerts, and other highly attended events that will need to be cancelled or postponed this year due to the COVID-19 recommendations.  This will potentially bring some money back into the General Fund. This item was debated by legislators during the subcommittee meeting.  The Executive Appropriations Committee will decide which funds will be returned to the General Fund.

Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Subcommittee

The Retirement and Independent Entities Appropriations Subcommittee addresses issues of state employee health insurance, public employee retirement, and relationships between employer and employee. The committee oversees budgets of the Career Service Review Office (CSRO) and Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM) and advises the Legislature on the Utah Retirement Systems (URS) and Public Employees Health Programs (PEHP). Members of the subcommittee met on May 27, 2020, to discuss Fiscal Year 2021 base budget reduction scenarios between two and ten percent.

  • Proposed 2% budget reductions to meet a target cut of $900,000 reduces out of state travel and money for new equipment. It assumes a decreased DHRM workload due to attrition, and halts incentive spending. The proposal reduces data processing and tech services for DHRM, and halts spending for a new abusive conduct reporting software.
  • Proposed 5% budget reductions to meet a target cut of $2,200,000 has employees pay an additional 1% on PEHP premiums. The one percent cost shifting reduces the state to paying 90.75% of the premium and increases employees to paying 9.25% of income. The proposal increases the individual annual rate from $611 to $686; couple annual rate from $1261 to $1414; and family annual rate from $1683 to $1888. PEHP Director Chet Loftis clarified State reserves from the insurance plan could be sufficient funding to cover a 2% budget reduction, and the 1% premium cost shift may make other reductions unnecessary.
  • Proposed 10% budget reductions to meet a target cut of $4,400,000 offers retirement incentives to employees and redistributes work among remaining employees. It presents the scenario of changing the 1.5% Tier 1 Defined Contribution plan and cuts compensation by 1% statewide. DHRM Director Paul Garver stated to go further than 5% budget reductions would have drastic impact on personnel, would impact employees’ jobs, and how agencies are served.

Click here for the complete list of Retirement and Independent Entities: Fiscal Year 2021 Base Budget Reduction Scenarios.

Executive Offices & Criminal Justice Appropriations Subcommittee

The Executive Offices & Criminal Justice (EOCJ) Appropriations Subcommittee finalized their requested 2, 5, and 10 percent budget cut recommendations on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The EOCJ base budget includes funding for all state law enforcement agencies, as well as the State Courts, Attorney General’s Office, and many others. After considering agency feedback and concerns, the committee approved the following budget cut scenarios for final approval by the Executive Appropriations Committee.

Department of Corrections

  • 2%: ($6,273,400)
    • Recommendations in the 2 % budget reduction include decrease in travel, administration, and jail contracting, as well as the elimination of vacant non-certified positions. Key items in this section include:
      • Closure of one Community Correctional Center – Department will determine which facility.
      • Inmate payroll reduction.
      • Elimination of non-essential, non-personnel items in the Prison Operations Department.
      • Partial reduction of Offender Housing.
    • 5%: ($16,226,400)
      • In addition to the 2 % reduction items, the committee recommended increased cuts to administration, training, and jail contracting. Major cuts in this section include:
    • Elimination of 2 AP&P field teams.
    • Closure of up to 2 housing units.
    • Elimination of 3 case management positions and 13 clerical staff positions.
    • 10%: ($32,437,700)
      • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reduction items, 10% cuts would include further reduction of administration, training, jail contracting, and inmate program funding.
      • Significant reduction items include:
        • Closure of an additional community correctional facility.
        • Closure of up to 4 housing units.
        • Elimination of 7 full-time treatment positions within the Individual Program Directive.
        • Elimination of 12 certified correctional officer positions.
        • Elimination of uniform allowances.

During the budget presentation, Mike Hadden, Executive Director of the Department of Corrections, clarified that while they are not always explicitly stated in the line items, correctional officer positions will be eliminated if programs and facilities are closed.

Department of Public Safety

  • 2%: ($1,660,600)
    • Budget reduction items in this section include reductions non-essential, non-personnel funding reductions.
    • Elimination of wildland fire subsidy.
    • Removal of newly implemented DPS information system, Banjo.
  • 5%: ($4,634,900)
    • In addition to 2% budget reductions, this section includes reductions in employee travel, department programs, and IT resources. Several items in this section have potential to leverage funding from other sources. Significant cuts include:
      • Reduction of 6.5 sworn officers expended from the General Fund – potential for funding reallocation.
      • Reduce funding of the State Bureau of Investigation potentially include 2-3 FTE’s.
      • Personnel reduction in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation – To be replaced with other funds.
    • 10%: ($9,364,900)
      • In addition to 2% and 5% reductions, 10% cuts would include:
    • Reduced trooper positions at the Capitol.
    • Increased reduction within SBI including 2-3 more FTE’s.
    • Reduction in sworn officer positions state-wide reflecting 24 law enforcement positions – Committee requested a change in statute to reallocate transportation funds to this item.

DPS Executive Director, Jess Anderson, informed the committee that the department is already dealing with 46 trooper position cuts due to Operation Rio Grande budget reductions. With the added cuts at the 10% reduction level, DPS would be forced to cut nearly 100 troopers and agents.

Juvenile Justice Services

  • 2%: ($1,867,100)
    • Budget reductions in this section include canceling scheduled improvements, postponing computer replacement, and minimizing employee travel and conferences.
  • 5%: ($5,334,700)
    • In addition to 2% cuts, the only adjustment in this section further reduces the planned provider rate increases, returning the rate to initial reimbursement.
  • 10%: ($9,335,100)
    • In addition to 2% and 5% reductions, this section further reduces the planned provider rate increase. Significant budget cuts include:
      • Closure of Cache Valley Detention Facility
      • Closure of Split Mountain Detention Facility
      • Closure of Canyonlands Youth Center

JJS Director, Brett Peterson stated, “Our staff are an irreplaceable resource. They’d put years and years of dedicated training and commitment to each of these communities and it’s heart-wrenching to put this forward.” Peterson continued to explain the division would not lose FTE’s at the 2% and 5% levels – closure of these facilities would require a reduction of 57 employees.

The above recommendations were approved; however, the committee voted to draft a letter to the Executive Appropriations Committee stating their position against the closure of Canyonlands Youth Center.

Attorney General’s Office

  • 2%: ($784,963)
    • Budget reductions in this section include a hiring freeze on some vacant positions, elimination of funding for annual party, and efficiencies within the Prosecution Council.
  • 5%: ($1,672,763)
    • In addition to the 2% reduction items, this section includes a decrease in training and travel funds as well as the elimination of a recently implemented program contract.
  • 10%: ($3,832,113)
    • In addition to the 2% and 5% reduction items, this section includes further reduction of travel and postponed replacement of slow computers. Significant budget reduction items include:
      • Merit/Incentive award reduction of 25 percent initially, then another 25 percent if necessary.
      • Elimination of the Prosecution Council.

The Chief of Policy and Legislative Affairs for the Attorney General’s Office, Dan Burton, spoke to the recommended budget and informed committee members that the AGO does not support the elimination of the Utah Prosecution Council. “We see it as an essential resource for the state in providing consistent training and best practices for prosecutors state-wide, at a time when prosecutors are under increased scrutiny.”

Utah State Courts

  • 2%: ($2,729,000)
    • Initial budget reductions include administrative travel reductions, a hiring freeze on vacant positions, and an increased fee for the court service Other line items include:
      • Incentivized retirement options.
      • Reallocation of FY20 turnover savings usually budgeted for career ladder and market salary increases.
    • 5 %: ($7,179,100)
      • In addition to the 2% reduction items, the committee included:
        • Further reallocation of FY20 turnover savings.
        • Maintenance of a “rolling” 50 vacant positions throughout the state.
        • Assumed turnover savings after an estimated 40 employees voluntarily leave the courts.
      • 10%: ($13,640,376)
        • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reductions, this section recommends:
          • Reduction of outsourced programs and internalization of services through existing personnel.
          • Implementing a hiring freeze for FY21.
          • Requiring each FTE to take a one-day furlough every month during the fiscal year.

Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee

The Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee addresses budgets to manage and protect Utah’s natural resources—wildlife, parks, water quality, public lands etc. The committee met May 27, 2020, to finalize proposed 2%, 5%, and 10% budget cuts for agencies served.

Department of Natural Resources

  • 2%: ($966,400)
    • Recommendations in the 2% budget reduction includes decrease to travel and reduced funding for projects. Each 2% budget reduction scenario has increased reductions at the 5% and 10% scenarios. Key items in this section include:
      • Reduced travel expenses for DNR (Department of Natural Resources), Water Rights, Forestry, OGM (Oil, Gas, Mining), Parks, UGS (Utah Geological Survey), Water Resources.
      • Removal of funding for desilting work at Millsite Reservoir.
      • Reduction in number of watershed projects.
    • 5%: ($2,416,000)
      • In addition to the 2% reduction items, the committee recommended increased cuts to restricted funds and reduction of the General Fund. Major cuts in this section include:
        • General Fund Restricted funding swap for parks operations, parks capital, and DWR law enforcement.
      • 10%: ($4,831,900)
        • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reduction items, 10% cuts would include further reduction of funding, projects, and training. Significant reduction items include:
          • Funding reductions to predator control projects, education program, collection of hydrologic data, and other studies conducted.
          • Reduced number of rural firefighter training sessions.
          • Reduction of one temporary FTE position.

Department of Natural Resources Director Brian Steed addressed how hard the exercise of finding cuts was. Their goal was to minimize impact on staff while maintaining operational integrity of programs. Director Steed clarified cuts, while manageable, will have impacts in providing to employees and constituents.

Department of Agriculture and Food

  • 2%: ($358,200)
    • Recommendations in the 2% budget reduction include decrease in new hire wages and not filling unneeded positions. Each 2% budget reduction scenario has increased reductions at the 5% and 10% scenarios. Key items in this section include:
      • Fill positions with new employees at lower wages
      • Elimination of unfilled Chief of Staff position and Plant Industry Deputy Director.
    • 5%: ($895,400)
      • In addition to the 2% reduction items, the committee recommended increased cuts to vacant positions and collection of fees. Major cuts in this section include:
        • Eliminate secretary positions and share Executive Secretary with Plant Industry and Administration
        • Eliminate Office Tech vacancy and Weights and Measures vacancies
      • 10%: ($1,790,900)
        • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reduction items, 10% cuts would include further reduction of unfilled positions. Significant reduction items include:
          • Eliminate Field Veterinarian position and Ogden Resource Coordinator

Department of Environmental Quality

  • 2%: ($360,984)
    • Recommendations in the 2% budget reduction appropriates excess waste tire recycling fund balances to General Fund, increases hardware replacement cycle, and decreases travel. Key items in this section include:
      • Reduce ongoing appropriation to Environmental Quality restricted account.
      • Reduce local health department subsidy for assistance
    • 5%: ($902,340)
      • In addition to the 2% reduction items, the committee recommended increased cuts to travel, reduction of supply purchases, and switching costs to federal funds. Major cuts in this section include:
        • Reduce emergency response assistance
        • Reduce DTS programming
        • Reduce Environmental planning to ½ FTE
      • 10%: ($1,804,800)
        • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reduction items, 10% cuts would include further reduction of travel, switching personnel costs to federal funds, and equipment budget reductions. Significant reduction items include:
          • Switch personnel costs to federal funds for environmental scientists

Office of Energy Development

  • 2%: ($33,600)
    • Recommendations in the 2% budget reduction include decrease budget for travel.
  • 5%: ($84,000)
    • In addition to the 2% reduction items, the committee recommended to reduce an administration position to ¾ FTE to support a currently vacant position.
  • 10%: ($167,900)
    • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reduction items, 10% cuts would include further reduction of an administration vacant position to ¼ FTE.

Public Lands Policy Coordination Office

  • 2%: ($58,300)
    • Recommendations in the 2% budget reduction reduces legal counsel hours.
  • 5%: ($145,600)
    • In addition to the 2% reduction items, the committee recommended eliminating one staff attorney.
  • 10%: ($291,300)
    • In addition to 2% and 5% budget reduction items, 10% cuts would include elimination of two legal counsel positions, reduction of employee hours, and reduced travel.

Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee met to discuss potential budget cuts of 2%, 5%, and 10%. The subcommittee considers budget issues regarding transportation, construction and maintenance, information technology and communications, and administrative services such as financial accounting, risk management, fleet operations, and purchasing. The subcommittee also deals with construction management and capital facilities maintenance, capital budgeting and debt service. Representatives from the Departments of Transportation (UDOT), Technology Services (DTS), Administrative Services (DAS) and Capital Budgets joined fiscal analysts and subcommittee members to discuss the budget adjustment options and reduce the $191 million base budget by $19.1 million. Committee chairs assured their commitment to maximizing cuts that do not directly affect personnel.

Department of Transportation

The department avoided recommending direct FTE cuts by decreasing equipment purchases and the overall transportation fund earmark.

  • 0-2%:
    • Purchase 3 fewer new snowplows.
    • Remove UTA passes from employee benefits.
    • Reduce overtime pay.
  • 2-5%:
    • Decrease building and grounds maintenance budget (could indirectly cause staffing cuts).
    • Decrease Transportation Investment Fund Earmark (requires statute change).
  • 5-10%:
    • Reduction in maintenance planning activities.
    • Greater decrease in the Transportation Investment Fund Earmark.
    • Cut Transportation Investment Fund capacity projects.

Department of Technology Services

The department has initiated a hiring freeze and decreased training and travel to avoid laying off FTEs.

  • 0-2%:
    • Cancel the annual employee recognition and service award events.
    • Cut monument restoration and rehabilitation budget.
    • Reduce employee travel, training and frequency of computer equipment maintenance.
  • 2-5%:
    • Cancel the annual rate benchmarking survey.
  • 5-10%:
    • Reduce employee development, training, and travel.
    • Postpone updating the agency website.

Capital Budget

The committee voted to strike most line items involving direct FTE impact and accounted for the revenue shortfall by increasing capital improvement reductions.

  • 0-2%:
    • Cancel the proposed Olympic Park improvements.
  • 2-5%:
    • Reduce budget for capital improvement.
  • 5-10%:
    • Further reduction in capital improvement budget causing elimination of FTEs.

Department of Administrative Services

  • 0-2%:
    • Reduction in all non-essential travel and offsite training.
  • 2-5%:
    • Operations and administrative budgets reduced.
    • Postponement of technological upgrades.
  • 5-10%:
    • Postponement of upgrades to technology and office supplies.
    • Reduction in administrative services regarding the oversight of Medicaid Program.

Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee

The Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee met on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 to discuss potential budget cuts from 2% to 10%. These cuts came from the budgets of all public universities, colleges, and technical colleges in Utah. The Utah System of Higher Education also presented cuts to its administrative budget.

The University of Utah

  • 2%
    • Most of these cuts consisted of limiting in-state and out-of-state travel (conferences included) and deferring maintenance projects, rehiring of vacant positions and delaying the purchase and replacement of equipment. It did not include any reductions in FTE’s.
  • 5%
    • These adjustments included all of the 2% cuts along with a general reduction in operating and administrative expenses. While there are some FTE’s that could potentially be let go at this level, it would be a last resort.
  • 10%
    • These cuts would be detrimental to the school and their research abilities. This would extend to the community (students, faculty, sports teams) and President Ruth Watkins advocated fiercely that 10% not be taken by the Legislature. These potential cuts include losing up to 100-300 FTE’s (including tenured faculty and staff).

Utah State University

  • 2%
    • Since such a large portion of appropriated funds are used for personnel expenses, it is unrealistic for USU to adjust to such large reductions without many of the cuts coming by way of position eliminations – 2% cuts would result in the elimination of 50 FTE positions.
  • 5%
    • 5% cuts would result in 125 eliminated FTE positions. Both 5% and 10% level of cuts would, “result in USU needing to eliminate core academic offerings which would be extremely disruptive, reduce enrollment thus comping already lower enrollment projections due to COVID-19 concerns and would require multi-year, phased implementation.”
  • 10%
    • 10% cuts would result in 250 FTE positions.

Weber State University

  • 2%
    • These cuts mainly come from closing vacant positions, reducing travel, and includes no FTE positions lost.
  • 5%
    • These would include the 2% cuts and add staff reductions approximately 10 FTE positions. These FTE positions would be done through the voluntary separation program (VSP).
  • 10%
    • These cuts include both 2% and 5% in addition to 10 more FTE positions being reduced. Additionally, the University Capital Budget would need to be cut by half a million dollars.

Southern Utah University

  • 2%
    • Voluntary executive staff salary reductions and positional elimination. Travel would be severely limited, but there are no FTE positions lost at the 2% level.
  • 5%
    • Faculty and staff reductions begin at this level approximately 1-7 FTE’s. Programs would also begin to be eliminated, such as the JumpStart Program, and the Venture Program.
  • 10%
    • These cuts include both 2% and 5% in addition to the elimination of live music at all athletic events, and 24 FTE positions.

Dixie State University

  • 2%
    • Reduce operating and travel budgets, targeted personnel reductions in part-time positions. Reduction-in-force of up to 12 FTE’s.
  • 5%
    • Same as the 2 % with reductions-in-force of up to 17 FTE’s.
  • 10%
    • Same as 2% and 5% cuts with up to 25 FTE positions reduced.

Utah Valley University

  • 2%
    • 25 FTE’s eliminated, reduction in hours, student services impacted, and reduced travel.
  • 5%
    • In addition to 2% cuts, 62 FTE’s would be eliminated.
  • 10
    • In addition to 2% and 5% cuts, 123 FTE’s would be eliminated along with some programs and services and fewer courses offered.

Snow College

  • 2%
    • No FTE’s eliminated at this level, current expense reductions, reduce hourly wages, reduce courses taught (100 credits) and eliminate one vacant position.
  • 5%
    • In addition to 2% cuts, reduce current expenses by 4%, and eliminate 5 additional vacant positions.
  • 10%
    • In addition to 2% and 5% cuts, staff would be reduced by 10 FTE’s and 9 faculty FTE’s.

Salt Lake Community College

  • 2%
    • 8 FTE positions eliminated, cuts to operational budget, and the fuel and power budget reduced.
  • 5%
    • In addition to the 2% cuts, 15 FTE positions would be eliminated.
  • 10%
    • In addition to the 2% and 5% cuts, 97 positions would need to be eliminated which would greatly impact student services. Also, the ability to provide scholarships would be almost eliminated.

Technical Colleges

Technical Colleges include Bridgerland, Davis Tech, Dixie Tech, Mountain Land Tech, Ogden-Weber Tech, Southwest Tech, Tooele Tech, and Uintah Basin Tech. Each college has their own individual potential budget cuts, however, for clarity they will be summarized together. Due to the relatively small size of these schools’ budgets, the impact of even 2% causes adverse actions. 10% budget cuts would be severe and would greatly limit the existence of technical colleges in Utah.

  • 2%
    • Most technical colleges will experience some layoff at this level, but other routes would be taken to avoid layoffs. All travel would be eliminated, program budgets reduced, and administrative costs cut.
  • 5%
    • Layoffs would begin to occur at this level, on average of 2-5 FTE positions per school. Programs and certificates that are offered by the technical colleges will be greatly reduced. Scholarship and financial aid money will be stifled.
  • 10%
    • Layoffs will increase depending on each college and very little, if any, financial aid could be given to students. As mentioned, this level of cut to a technical college would severely reduce their operating costs and limit their institution on whole.

Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) Administration

  • 2% and 5% cuts mainly affect programs as well as reduced administrative costs.
  • 10% cuts begin to affect the scholarships that USHE offers such as the Regents, New Century Scholar, Talent Development Loan, Promise Scholarship, CTE scholarship, and others.  This would greatly reduce the aid provided to students attending colleges and universities in Utah and could prevent some students from attending college all together.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee

  • 2 percent: ($58,418,700) – Budget reductions at the 2 percent level included training & licensing incentive reductions and cuts to education programs, some resulting in program elimination.
  • 5 percent: ($208,087,200) – In addition to the 2 percent reductions, the only added line item in the 5 percent scenario cuts funding to the Class Size Reduction program.
  • 10 percent: ($387,036,839) – In addition to the 2 and 5 percent reduction items, 10 percent reductions include increased program cuts and reorganization. Line items impacting state employees include:
    • 10 percent reduction of Utah State Board of Education (USBE) “professional staff” funding.
    • 5 percent reduction in funding to the Schools for the Deaf and Blind.