Friday, August 21, 2009

August Interim Report

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Legislative Audit Subcommittee
Listen to Audio

UPEA monitored discussions during the Legislative Audit Subcommittee to prepare for the 2010 Legislative Session. This subcommittee reviews audits requested by legislators to help them make policy decisions. The media widely reported that audits revealed a major liability in the Medicaid Bureau of Program Integrity. However, the subcommittee also reviewed audits dealing with the courts, the Department of Technology Services, and DSPD. Overall, the audits revealed concerns with upper management and organizational communication.

However, the DSPD audit, A Review of Allegations Made Concerning The Division of Services for People with Disabilities, could not substantiate allegations submitted anonymously. Specifically, the letter alleges that the division’s forecasting process is inaccurate and that the current situation for privatizing Support Coordinators was not vetted properly.

The Legislative Auditor General suggested that further review of the allegations was unnecessary because the forecasting model the division used did not play a role in the legislators’ decision to cut the division’s budget. Furthermore, the auditors suggested that the division’s strategy for privatizing support coordinators was judicious in light of further budget cuts.

The letter also alleged conflicts of interest within the division. The auditors reviews all allegations and found that the Department of Human Services had examined each claim and determined how each claim could be managed. Given the department’s awareness and action, the auditors saw no reason to pursue the matter further.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

The Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee met to discuss the newly restructured Privatization Policy Board. The board is made up of legislators, private employers, appointees from the Governor, and UPEA. The intent of the board is to make an inventory of state services and determine if those services compete with the private sector. Recommendations from the board will be sent to the governor.

Senator Goodfellow, who chairs the policy board, said the board will send a survey to state agencies with questions about services that could be privatized. Goodfellow said the board is not yet complete as they are waiting for the governor to appoint two more people.

Representative Craig Frank, R-Cedar Hills, who sponsored legislation to reorganize the Privatization Policy Board, stated that privatization is critical and wants to know the role government has in the private sector. Frank also wants to see the board move quickly and that he is anxious to see the proposals that will be sent to the Governor.

UPEA is tracking this issue very closely and will be attending all Privatization Policy Board meetings. Privatization is a big issue and we want all public employees to be informed about what is happening. We will continually post updates on if new information becomes available.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Retirement Taskforce

UPEA would like to take this opportunity to bring you up-to-date on the Association’s efforts concerning the critical issues of retirement and health care. Over the past four months, a taskforce of UPEA members appointed by the UPEA State Board of Directors, have been meeting to interview legislative leaders, state retirement officials, health insurance experts, and others in order to prepare for the upcoming Legislative Session. The time has been well spent.

As you know, the state retirement fund has experienced significant losses due to the recession. For the system to remain solvent it must be at least 80% funded. Currently the retirement system is about 87% funded.

In order to address the losses, some organizations, like the League of Cities and Towns have proposed a myriad of solutions such as suspending the 401(k) contribution, extending the vesting period, and transitioning the public safety / firefighter years of service from 20 years to 25 years. We believe that such proposals are premature.

UPEA will join the Utah Education Association (UEA) and the Utah School Employees’ Association (USEA) in issuing a joint statement which opposes any long term changes to the retirement system based on a temporary drop in the investment fund.

The UPEA taskforce is also closely monitoring health care reform on the state and national level and will be producing a series of position papers.

UPEA is adamant about preserving your retirement benefits. The Utah Retirement building is named after UPEA’s founder and first President Leonard W. McDonald, the architect of the Utah State Retirement System. We the leadership of UPEA intends to uphold this legacy.