UPEA Blog

UPEA State Board Continues to Encourage the Prioritization of Public Employees

Dear UPEA Members:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sincerely,

UPEA Offficers and State Board

 

Lori Benton, UPEA President
labenton@utah.gov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

UPEA/Mountain America Scholarship Recipients Emulate Dedication to Public Service

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is excited to announce the winners of the 2020 scholarships sponsored by Mountain America Credit Union. This is the 13th year that UPEA has offered these scholarships, and the applications are only getting more impressive.

Selections are based on academic achievement, community service, future plans, and skills or hobbies outside of school. UPEA sought to find three well-balanced individuals who will use the $1,000 awards to further their careers and continue to serve the community. UPEA appreciates the service provided by public employees and hopes that these scholarships serve to ensure that the next generation embraces that commitment.  Here are the 2020 award recipients:

Trevor Lorenz Gasser is currently attending Brigham Young University (BYU) and plans to graduate with a master’s degree in information systems after only five years of study. While maintaining a 3.78 grade point average (GPA), Gasser has volunteered for the BYU Student Association to create service opportunities on campus. Notably, Gasser established BYU Y-Wishes, a program dedicated to serving students and faculty battling cancer. Outside of school, Gasser enjoys skiing, snowboarding, and hunting. His passion for the outdoors led him to participate in Dedicated Hunter service projects to protect the wildlife and natural environments of Utah. After graduation, Gasser plans to pursue a career as a data scientist and hopes to streamline machine-learning techniques to make healthcare more accessible.

Brian Prettyman has worked for the Utah Department of Workforce Services for the past 14 years. Throughout his time with the state, he’s grown and gained experience in several positions, including employment counselor, employee trainer, and program and policy specialist. He currently serves as a contract analyst. In addition to his public service, Prettyman has volunteered his time for the LGBTQ Pride Center, Kimball Arts Festival, the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, and many other community causes. Prettyman is the only member of his family to achieve a bachelor’s degree and now strives to obtain his master’s business administration degree from the University of Utah. Ultimately, Prettyman hopes to continue his service as a director in the public sector and to use his experience to better the world.

Tracia Sullivan has dedicated the past 15 years to helping the underserved community as a counselor for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Sullivan began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in 1989, but financial hardship she experienced as a single parent forced her to delay higher-education plans. After decades of growth in her field, she has seized the opportunity to complete her degree in family health studies with a minor in sociology. Since reentering college in 2018, Sullivan has maintained a 4.0 GPA while continuing full-time work and donating time as a volunteer. She has spent 31 years volunteering to help those battling addiction through a 12-step recovery fellowship. Upon completion of her schooling, Sullivan plans to continue her career in social services and help those impacted by intergenerational poverty.

After reviewing the applications, UPEA had a hard time narrowing it down to three. One extraordinary applicant stood out in ways the normal qualifications did not consider. The Association felt this candidate deserved recognition, and Mountain America was generous enough to offer another $500 scholarship to Fenton Moody.

Moody has worked hard to achieve success and independence despite coping with autism spectrum disorder. Throughout high school, Moody exceeded the expectations of his peers by serving as student body president, learning to drive, obtaining a food-handler’s permit, and working an afterschool job in addition to his schoolwork. He has also volunteered at the Elk Lodge delivering meals to those in need. His hard work and dedication earned him acceptance into the Aggies Elevated Program at Utah State University. Applicants considered for this program come from across the nation; Moody is one of 10 individuals chosen this year. He plans to pursue special education and acting with the hope of inspiring others like him to achieve their goals.

UPEA was impressed by applications this year and looks forward to continuing the opportunity next year.

Thank you to everyone who applied.

 

 

 

 

Legislature Conducts First Virtual Session to Discuss COVID-19 Pandemic

The first virtual meeting of the Utah State Legislature was conducted when the House of Representatives and Senate called themselves into the Third Special Session of the 63rd Legislature on April 16, 2020. The Special Session was conducted to discuss policy concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representative Jefferson Moss stressed, “we are in the middle of a crisis, not just the pandemic crisis, but we are also dealing with an economic crisis.” The pandemic has had an impact on the revenue that comes into the state, and Moss affirmed the “budget that we came out with in March is not going to be the budget that we end up with. We know it will be smaller, but we don’t know how much.”

HJR 301, Joint Resolution Urging Fiscal Responsibility, sends the message of the “inevitable decline in revenue at the State level.” Moss, the House sponsor of the joint resolution, explained this is to set expectations, it does not take active action. HJR 301 asks state agencies, boards, institutions, and local education to restrict expenditures, and plan for a FY2021 budget that is equal to or less than current budgets.

HJR 301 passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.  The resolution makes agencies aware that budgets are going to be changed, and to prepare agencies for any cuts that need to be made.

The next Special Session is scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 2020. UPEA is actively involved by monitoring, tracking, and discussing policies that impact public employees. UPEA representatives are available to discuss member concerns and will also talk to HR on their behalf.

During the General Session of the legislature earlier this year, UPEA members stepped up to the task of contacting their legislators to ensure public employee compensation and benefits were taken seriously and prioritized. Your efforts were an important part in achieving UPEA’s goals.

Representative Melissa Ballard is sponsoring a resolution recognizing the hard work and dedication of public employees through the recent crisis. Utah’s public employees have demonstrated their dedication to the State and its citizens during these unprecedented times, and it is important for legislators to remember this as they navigate uncharted territories regarding the FY2021 budget.

Legislative Special Session Update

Thank you to each of you that are being asked to carry on during these uncertain times. We hope you are staying safe and healthy as we make our way through the current situation. Although the UPEA office is physically closed, we will continue to help and support you with any questions or concerns. Members can contact the UPEA staff during normal business hours by telephone or email.

UPEA will continue its contact with the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) to address employee concerns.  We will ensure that you stay informed on decisions that may impact your employment. If you have specific questions UPEA staff is available to address your concerns.

One of the items we are currently working on is communicating with legislative leadership.  The governor’s office and the legislature have both indicated they will be calling a virtual Special Session sometime in April to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on the state.  Legislative staff is currently working to coordinate this process.  UPEA continues to emphasize the increased importance of public employees, and the jobs they perform on behalf of the citizens of Utah, during this difficult time.

We anticipate the Special Session will focus on the budget that was proposed during the recent 2020 legislative session including public employee compensation.  UPEA has been in communication with House and Senate leadership, including the Governor’s office, and we have asked them to take a measured response based on the current situation regarding compensation. As we obtain additional information, we will communicate it with you.

There is strength in numbers – please encourage your coworkers to join online today. Click here to complete the membership form.

UPEA remains vigilant and is will continue to represent your interests.  Please stay safe and healthy.

Christie Workman Elected to Serve as Second Vice President

Christie Workman will serve as the Utah Public Employees’ Association’s (UPEA’s) new second vice president for the 2020-2021 term.

“Recruiting and retaining employees is important, and my goal as second vice president is to increase public employee pay,” she said. “As a member of UPEA’s State Board, I helped create and support the initiative to increase pay by 5%. Let’s work together to educate legislators, policymakers, and our coworkers about the importance of UPEA and the work the Association does to advocate and protect the rights of public employees.”

She added, “I will also recognize, promote, and support the retirees of UPEA. Retired members are a valuable asset and provide working members with institutional knowledge and access to their experience. Retirees are a strong voice for public employees and make UPEA better.”

In addition to her service on the State Board (pictured), Workman serves on the Advisory Council, in Mountainlands District Leadership, and is chairwoman of the General Council Committee. She looks forward to working with other leaders and to serving UPEA members as second vice president.

She will serve her term alongside fellow UPEA officers, Lori Benton (president), Dennis Kay (first vice president), and Deb McBride (past president).

Legislators Approve 5% Compensation Package Including COLA and Hot Spot Funding

On Friday, March 6, 2020, the Executive Appropriations Standing Committee approved a 3% COLA for state employees with an additional 2% for Targeted “Hot Spot” Funding. The Committee also approved funding to cover the employer’s share for the $6.8 million public employee health insurance increase.

Over the past year, the Governor’s Office has worked with DHRM and agency leadership to compile a list of Discretionary and Targeted Compensation Increases by Agency; these are positions within the state that are substantially below-market. Gov. Herbert included funding equivalent to a 1% General Increase, or roughly $7.5 million, to fund this list in his FY 2021 budget recommendations. During each session, legislators may adopt, amend, or dismiss the recommendations for targeted compensation. This year, the Executive Appropriations Committee has doubled the Governor’s recommendation and approved a 2% targeted compensation increase. This appropriations also includes funding for the next year in the Certified Officer Career Plan.

Prior to the 2020 Legislative Session, the Governor’s budget included a 2.5% increase for state employee compensation.  Despite the restricted budget, your support in contacting your legislators ensured that state employee compensation was prioritized and resulted in increased funding.

Over the past several weeks, UPEA staff has been speaking with Senators and Representatives individually to encourage their support for a substantial pay increase; however, assistance from our members has been critical in the success of this bill. Numerous legislators told UPEA staff that they had heard from their constituents about the importance of this funding. We appreciate all of our members that were willing to help in this effort.

Please take the time to thank your legislator for their support in making state employees a priority.