Joint Budget Personnel subcommittee

March 2, 2022

 

Davis We’ll go ahead and call this meeting to order. First up on the agenda, we’re going to be dealing with Governor’s Letters 1 and 2– I’m sorry, 11 and 12. 

 

Staff Thank you, Madam Chairman. Governor’s Letters 11 and 12. These are requests for changes for five bills associated with the Department of Education. Governor’s Letter 11 affects SB 58 for the Division of Higher Education, SB 64 Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Public School Fund, HB 1067 for Career and Technical Education, HB 1080 for School for the Blind and School for the Deaf, and SB 63 for the Shared Services Division. The amendments will move 18 positions across these divisions to the Department of Education’s Shared Services section. They’re also requesting to move the appropriation– the regular salaries and appropriations– regular salaries and matching appropriations along with those positions. Governor’s Letter 12 also adds two positions to the Northwest Technical Appropriation in SB 58 for the division of Higher Ed. These are two additional positions. The amendment will add an ammonia refrigeration technical specialist and training manager to GS 13, as well as a business and industry coordinator at GS10. The appropriation increase for these positions is also added and will be about $175,000. Madam Chairman, that’s Governor’s Letters 11 and 12. 

 

Davis Do we have any questions? Senator Hickey, you’re recognized. 

 

Hickey Just, just one clarification. You said it moved the matching appropriation on– 

 

Staff That is my understanding. Yes, sir, that if you look on the front of page 1 of the packet, you’ll see the regular salaries and matching both have been struck and have been lowered down. So my understanding is that, yes, the regular salaries and matching would be moved for those positions. 

 

Hickey That, that would be standard or is it something different than normal? 

 

Staff When they move positions, I believe that’s generally standard. But I’d rather let DFA and OPM speak to that. But that’s my understanding. Yes, sir. 

 

Staff 2 Yes, sir, Senator Hickey. That’s pretty much a standard way of when they transfer positions because they have to have the match in the right business area. 

 

Hickey Okay, that makes sense. Thank you. 

 

Davis Are there any other questions? Do we have a motion for approval? We have a motion. A second? Second. Okay, thank you. Any discussion? All those in favor say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. Okay. Next up is Governor Letter– Governor’s Letter 14. 

 

Staff Madam Chairman, Governor’s Order 14 is set to amend SB 40 and HB 1018 for the Department of Energy and Environment through amendments WFP 061 and WFP 062. The amendments will move one fiscal support specialist position from the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board to the department’s Shared Services division, along with the regular salaries and matching appropriations. 

 

Davis Any questions on this letter? Seeing none, do I have a motion for approval? Second? All– any discussion? All those in favor please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. All right. Next up, we have Governor’s Letter 15. 

 

Staff Madam Chairman, Governor’s Letter 15 will amend HB 1034 and HB 1010 for the Department of Correction. Amendments DJC 047 and DJC 048 move 22 positions from the Division of Correction in the Division of Community Correction to the Department’s Shared Services Division to be used across the entire department. The amendments will also move the regular salaries and matching and some operating expenses appropriation to the Shared Services for these 22 positions. 

 

Davis Any questions? Seeing none, do I have a motion? A second? Any questions? All those in favor say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. We’ve got Governor’s Letter 17. 

 

Staff Madam Chairman, Governor’s Letter 17 will amend HB 1058 for the Department of Finance and Administration through Amendment JAP 069 and the Budget Management Services Division– this is for the Budget and Management Services Division, as well as the revenue division of DFA. They will transfer five positions to the DFA Shared Services Division, along with the regular salaries and matching appropriation. 

 

Davis Any questions? Seeing none, do I have a motion for approval? Motion and a second. Any questions? All those in favor please say aye. Opposed no? Motion carries. Up next, we have Governor’s Letter 18 and 19. 

 

Staff Madam Chairman, Governor’s Letter 18 and 19 both amend HB 1026 for the Department of Public Safety. The amendment DJC 046 encompasses all the changes in both of the letters. Governor’s Letter 18 has three positions– excuse me, two from the State Police and one from CLEST that will be transferred along with the regular salary and matching appropriation to Shared Services. Governor’s Letter 19 adds five new forensic scientist positions to the crime lab, along with $300,000 in regular salary and matching appropriation. This will grow the total number of positions at the crime lab and has been requested to help speed up the testing of sexual assault kits in order to meet turnaround times set in Act 839 of 2019. 

 

Davis Are there any questions on this? Seeing none, do I have a motion? Second. Any questions? All those in favor please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. Okay. Item 6, Governor’s Letter 21.

 

Staff Madam Chairman, Committee members, please bear with me. So this Governor’s Letter 21 requested amendments to 10 DHS bills, 9 of which have personnel related changes. So I’m going to go through the summary of the changes first, like what all is happening, and then I’m going to go amendment by amendment so you know kind of what’s going on at each division. So the first thing you’ll see is to titles at DHS Division Directors. They’re actually being changed to deputy directors. Several of these titles will also have an increasing grade from Grade SC01 to SC02. Another recurring change in this letter is to make permanent the changes, or their reallocation of resources transfers that DHS has done throughout the last year, year and a half, where they’ve moved positions from one division to another. They’re just making those permanent. There are 109 new positions or additional positions at DCFS. These are part of DHS’ new teaming approach with their family service workers. They received a handful of these positions a few months ago as part of this program, and this is a continuation of that approach. These are the only true new positions, I believe, in any of– in this Governor’s Letter and any amendments. There’s some upgrades, which means an increase in grade on a job, as well as reclassifications for long term services, Medicaid eligibility, and county ops, and these are being provided to help efficiently determine eligibility and long term care needs. And then there’s appropriation adjustments throughout the amendment, through the bill and the– excuse me, the Governor’s Letter and the amendments. So we’ll start first with LCW 064, and this is to amend HB 1056 DHS Secretary’s Office. It makes permanent reallocation of resources from FY 2. Then in amendment LCW065 to SB 34, this is for aging adult and behavioral health services, makes permanent the reallocation of resources changes. It also changes the DHS deputy director for behavioral health services to DHS Division Director and increases its grade from an SCO1 to an SCO2. The appropriations are adjusted as well to support maintenance operations and personnel costs. Amendment LCW 066 is to SB 53. This is for child care and early childhood Ed. This makes permanent the FY 22 reallocation of resources. We have the directors title change and grade change again from an SCO1 to an SCO2 and the appropriation changes for the reallocation resources. And this is for enhanced oversight at residential adolescent facilities. The next amendment will be LCW 067. This is for SB 51 and for DCFS, changes in the DHS deputy director DCFS title to DHS Division Director, as well as increasing its grade from SCO1 to SCO2. As we mentioned, this adds 109 new positions with the appropriations, which are increased for the positions and this is to purchase– they’re also purchasing some federally required comprehensive child welfare information system with the appropriation. There’s also appropriation for TANF. Foster care is also increased to assist with child placement in intensive in-home contracts. Amendment LCW 070 to HB 1064. This is for county ops. These are the reallocation– excuse me, I’m sorry, the reallocation of resources changes. We also added one new reallocation of resources from child care and early childhood ed, two for medical services, two from aging and adult behavioral health services, one from the DYS, and 13 from the Secretary’s Office. This amendment also reclassifies and upgrades 229 positions at the LTSS Program Eligibility Unit. We have an increased appropriation as requested for these changes to support the maintenance, operations, and personnel costs. Then we have amendment LCW 069 to SB 50. This is for developmental disability services. This makes permanent the FY 22 reallocation of resources. The director’s title is changed along with the grade change and the additional appropriation for personnel and operational needs. Amendment LCW 071 to SB 54 Medical Services makes permanent the FY 22 reallocation of resource changes, reallocates one position from aging and adult behavioral health services. We have the directors title change. This one already had the SCO2 grade, so it stays the same. And we have the appropriation changes for the personnel and support the Medicaid program due to increased enrollment and provider rate increases. We have LCW 072 for HB 1074. This for the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance. They’re making permanent their reallocation of resources they’ve done over FY 22. The director’s title has changed and the grade is changed from an SCO1 to SCO2 and then the appropriation adjustments for the personnel costs, regular salaries, matching. Then in amendment LCW 073 to SB 57 DYS. We have reallocations that are being made permanent, the directors title and grade change. And then there’s an increase in the Federal Child and Youth Service grants appropriation to support additional federal funding and to expand in-home services. And that’s– that’s all the amendments through this governor’s letter for DHS.  

 

Wooten Madam Chairman, can we have the Agency come forward? 

 

Davis If you have questions, go ahead.

 

Wooten Y’all identify yourself. I don’t think it’s necessary, but go ahead, if you would. 

 

Gillespie Cindy Gillespie, Secretary of the Department of Human Services. 

 

White Mark White, Chief of Staff for the Department of Human Services. 

 

Wooten Thank y’all for being here this morning. I’ve got two or three different questions, but the main– I guess the main thing in all of this that, that I would like to know is, is what is the total additional cost? Because I see on one page, page 6, it goes from $109 million being struck to $140,000,903. That’s on page, page 6 at the top of the page. And then over on page 10, there’s another one that strikes $173 million and then inserts $176 million. And then back on page 9, there’s $140 million struck and $158 million. So what, what is the– are these cumulative numbers that are building up through the bill or are we looking at– so, so how much is the total costs that we’re looking at? Mark, this– and this does not have the 109– does this have the 109 positions and which one? Where is that? 

 

White Those 109 new positions are all within the Division of Children and Family Services. When you look at the other position changes throughout the different bills, all those net to 0. But the additional 109, that’s, yes, that’s entirely within child welfare. 

 

Wooten And that’s to strengthen the, the social workers contact in the homes and that type thing by doing it in a team effort. Is that correct? 

 

White Yes, sir. That’s correct. 

 

Wooten Now, excluding that, can you, can you give us a total number of additional funding that this will include? 

 

White Yes, sir, I can. And, and let me caution first by saying that the appropriation changes, of course, they include the additional costs for personnel, but also include additional costs for operations as well in some cases. But with that said, if we, if we– the largest amount of appropriation relates to additional funding for Medicaid in terms of claims being paid by Medicaid, as well as from federal grants and other federal funding that comes in. That totals about a total of $417 million. So if we back that out, that leaves us in looking just at our operations, additional appropriation of $55.8 million. And of that, the vast majority of that is for those 109 new positions in child welfare, and then the upgrades that we’re doing in our division of county operations around the workers that work with long term care eligibility. And if you back those out among all the other divisions, the total is an increased appropriation of $6 million. 

 

Wooten 6 additional when you back– how much– if I may, Madam Chair– how much federal money is involved in this versus state revenue? Let me restate that to make it simpler. How much of an increase are we seeing in revenue for your agency from state funds? X out federal on the new– in this new proposal and these amendments. 

 

White When you look at that increased cost, it varies from division to division. But across, I think it’s fair to say about half is typically going to be federal funds. Now in, in that $417 million I mentioned, that’s going to be a much larger proportion of federal funds. So I’ll set that aside. But for what’s remaining, depending on the source, it’s going to be typically around half state funds, half federal funds. But on the funding side– you know, of course, you may recall in our budget presentation pre-session, what we’ve asked for and what the governor has recommended is our increase is the same as was recommended back in the general session as part of the biennium. We did reallocate some of those funds and move some of those out of Medicaid into these other divisions to reflect these increased costs. 

 

Wooten Okay. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Thank you, Mark and Secretary. 

 

Davis Thank you. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized for a question. 

 

Hammer Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning. I was listening as the presentation was being made, and with the change of every title, does it automatically come with a grade level increase? Because it seems like I heard change and it upgraded the title. Did I misunderstand that or is that a fairly accurate statement? 

 

Gillespie Yes, Senator Hammer. When a grade is changed–  

 

Hammer I don’t think your mic is hot there. 

 

Gillespie Generally, with a grade change, it does not have an automatic upgrade– automatic cost associated with it. That becomes a decision that the department can make at their particular level. In the case of the upgrades here, if I might say, the long term specialist or LTSS, that was a title we created during the interim, and they’ve been able to– they gave those people 10% already. And it’s my understanding they’re not going to provide those people with an additional 10% because we already raised them through other methods during the interim. But this does properly classify them. 

 

Hammer Okay, so when when I hear a new title– deputy director, director, whatever– that doesn’t automatically mean– and then I heard you say, they go to the next level pay. That doesn’t automatically give them that pay increase? 

 

Gillespie If they are below the minimum of the grade, they’re going to. There is an automatic pay increase. If they’re within the range, there is not. But that, again, that is left to the discretion of the department when they implement it. 

 

Hammer Okay, so what’s the dollar value associated with that conversation right there? Or do you know what the increase was based on the changing of the titles? 

 

Gillespie So around the shift from having deputy directors to having division directors, that one models out– if we end up doing the 10% increase on each of the individuals, that would model out, including fringe, at about 113,000. And then, of course, as we’ve said before, a lot of ours is half federal with the way our money flows. 

 

Hammer All right. So, not just 113,000, but 113,000 is, is the cost associated with that alone?

 

Gillespie Yes, sir. 

 

Hammer Okay, thank you. 

 

Davis Thank you. Representative Jean, you’re recognized for a question. 

 

Jean Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m on House Bill 1064. We’re adding 229 positions, and it looks like there’s one director and 18 supervisors and 210 specialists. Are those going to be scattered throughout the state or are they going to be centralized somewhere? 

 

Gillespie Director Martin is here, if you– if she wants to– oh, she is not? Okay. She said– oh, he said DCFS. So DCO? Okay. Oh, it is DCO. Okay. So for DCO, yes, those are spread around the state. I can answer that very, very clearly. And as Miss Barnhill indicated, we have already begun working with these individuals because of the workload flowing through the agency right now. So for some of the individuals, these LTSS positions that are in there that are the GS7 upgrades, we’ve already identified individuals, they’ve interviewed, they’re moved into training, moved into those roles and have been given a temporary discretionary increase with the idea that we will now have this expanded LTSS operation. And it is around the state. Once we come to July, it will be permanent if y’all approve this.

 

Jean Will the director be stationed in Little Rock? 

 

Gillespie The director is stationed in Little Rock. It is Mary Franklin right now, and I would imagine the director will stay here. 

 

Jean But this acts like these are new positions. 

 

Gillespie They, they’re not new positions. They’re– some of them are new positions to DCO taken from elsewhere in DHS, right? And so there is the addition of positions to DCO from elsewhere in the agency. 

 

Jean How many of these 229 are absolutely new positions? 

 

Gillespie At DCO, there are no new positions coming to DHS. 

 

Jean Okay. All right. Thank you, Madam Chair. 

 

Davis Are there any other questions? Seeing none, do I have a motion for approval? Motion and a second. All right, thank you. Any discussion on the motion? All those in favor, please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. All right. Item number 7, SB 12, the Game and Fish Commission Letter. 

 

Staff Thank you, Madam Chairman. Item B7 is a letter from the Game Fish Commission. They’re requesting to add four additional positions and $11 million in additional appropriation for maintenance and operation and construction line items. The letter also calls for some additional special language that will be heard by Special Language. Actually, I think it’s already been heard by Special Language, Madam Chairman. 

 

Davis Do we have any questions? All right. Do we have a motion for approval? A second? Yes. Do you have a question? We’ve got a motion. We don’t have the second yet, so. Okay. She withdrew her motion, so go ahead. You’re recognized, Senator Dismang. 

 

Dismang If we could, I think he’s going to have some comments. I know there’s some concerns about maybe some disparity between biologists in these officers and kind of understand the reality of where we are with the State Police raises and how that impacts, you know, what you all do. But if you don’t mind kind of just addressing the committee and kind of walking through what the plan is for those folks? 

 

Booth Sure. Good morning, Senator Davis and to the committee. I’m Austin Booth. I’m the Director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. I’m joined by my right– I’m joined to my right by Melissa Riffle, our HR Chief, and Emily Shumate, our CFO. As you all know, part of– part of our letter is the flexibility to match or at least keep the pace with the pay increases that the Arkansas State Police is pursuing for their troopers. Our partnership with the Arkansas State Police is, in my opinion, the most important law enforcement partnership in the state. And we’re facing the exact same kind of climate, societal, and compensation challenges that, that, that they are. So we’re very grateful for the Special Language Subcommittee’s approval yesterday to give us the flexibility that we need on the enforcement front. However, we have 180 game wardens in an agency of roughly 550 employees. So what about everyone else? The bread and butter of what we do in conservation is on the ground. The dirt under your fingernails kind of work that you think of when you think about, you know, wildlife management or fisheries management. And we don’t just have enforcement compensation problems. We have we have agency compensation problems. And that’s one of the reasons why you have four additional positions before you today is compensation is not just a salary discussion, but compensation is also a quality of life, climate leadership discussion. And as the number of filled positions that we’ve had in the agency over the years has gone down and down, for many of our biologists, we’ve placed unrealistic expectations on them. So in this second year of the biennium, I’m asking for these four positions in an effort to focus some of their work in our recreational shooting division and our private lands effort. So that will get us through the second year of this biennium. And then we just went under contract with a vendor that’s going to do a national class and comps study for us that’s going to compare not just how Arkansas compares inside– or sorry, not just how the Arkansas Game and Fish compares inside the state, but we’ll look at the private sector. We’ll look at other fish and wildlife agencies and the nonprofit sector to see just how far we are behind. We’ve, we’ve had a look at our IT division just to name, name one. And our compensation structure is about 40– 40 percent below industry. So this is an interim measure to, to get us into the next biennium. 

 

Davis Senator Dismang, you’re recognized for a question. 

 

Dismang Thanks for that. And one thing, we do have an ALC subcommittee for Game and Fish, and as that information kind of rolls out if you can be sure to share that with them and maybe actually have a meeting on kind of what’s happening, what we’re looking to do, and kind of minimize that disparity that looks to be occurring. Thank you. 

 

Booth Yes sir. 

 

Davis Thank you. Senator, I mean, excuse me, Representative Jean, you’re recognized for a question. 

 

Jean Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Booth, I’m over here. How many positions did you say you had total, five hundred and what? 

 

Booth We have a total of 650 available, and the last I looked, we had 448– sorry, 548. 

 

Jean 548 filled? 

 

Booth Yes, sir. 

 

Jean And you’re asking for four more? 

 

Booth Yes, sir. 

 

Jean And did you say you had 180 game wardens? 

 

Booth We have 180 game warden vacancies– total game warden positions. Yes, sir. 

 

Jean Not vacancies. 

 

Booth We have 22 vacancies. 

 

Jean Okay, I thought you said you had 180 vacancies. You ain’t got any game wardens then– 

 

Booth No, thank goodness. 

 

Jean Okay, so you got 22 game warden vacancies out of the 180. 

 

Booth 180. Yes, sir. 

 

Jean Okay. All right. Thank you. 

 

Booth Yes, sir. 

 

Davis Are there any other questions? Representative Wooten, you’re recognized. 

 

Wooten I’m curious about how– you’ve got 650 positions now and you’re wanting to add four more, but you just got 484 filled. Is there, is there any reason why you’re asking for additional four when you got that many vacant? Let me back up. How many of those do you know that have been vacant for over two years? 

 

Booth Yes, sir. In preparation for this committee and our work together when I was at Veterans Affairs, the front on on my mind, sir, was, was the fact that this question was going to come from you. So we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re doing that work. Many of the 650 positions are extra help positions that aren’t really relevant for this calculus. The positions that we’re asking for, we don’t currently have. And in the event that we come to the Personnel Subcommittee after the fiscal session to request these positions for, for this fiscal year, we’ll be prepared to turn in any positions that haven’t been used in two years. 

 

Wooten Okay. But none of the positions that are vacant– can, can, you– you can’t upgrade four to get what you want? 

 

Booth No, sir. 

 

Wooten Okay you shed some light on– I’m just– I just have– I understand where you are and what you’re trying to do, but I don’t understand trying to add four when you’ve got that many vacant. 

 

Shumate Okay, Mr. Wooten, Game and Fish is not covered by the Class and Comp Act. They’re independent, so they don’t have the pools and the ability to trade in as other state departments do. So I think that’s why they’re coming forward with the additional position. 

 

Wooten Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you. 

 

Davis Are there any other questions? Seeing none, do we have a motion? And a second. All right. Any discussion? All those in favor, please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. Okay, we’ll move on to Item C. 

 

Staff All right, Madam Chairman. Items C, D and E are all regular business requests. Item C– excuse me. Item C is a request from the Department of Human Services. They’re requesting to surrender three positions in return for one DMS business operations manager to Grade 12. This is again for medical services. The business operations manager will be responsible for creating and submitting state and federal reports. They are also requesting to surrender three positions in return for one assistant director of quality assurance in their Shared Services division. This position will be responsible for reviewing and meeting internal controls at the agency. The request will drop the total number of positions at DHS by four. OPM recommends the requested positions and estimates the cost to be $68,000 and $78,000, respectively. 

 

Davis Are there any questions? Do I have a motion for review, that these have been reviewed? Motion. Second. Any discussion? All those in favor, please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. 

 

Staff Okay, Madam Chairman. Item D is a request for the Assessment Coordination Division at DFA. They’re requesting to surrender one position in return for one position, an ACD Division Administrator at a grade GS08. The administrator will be responsible for working on the ratio study, which guarantees a county has properly executed a reappraisal and that their evaluations are correct. This will have no net effect on the number of positions, as it is a one for one swap. OPM has recommended the position and estimates the cost to be about $20,000.

 

Davis Any questions? Do I have a motion that this has been reviewed? Second. Any discussion? All those in favor, please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. 

 

Staff All right, Madam Chairman. Our last item, Item E, is a request from the Parks, Heritage and Tourism Department to surrender two lower graded IT titles in return for one Parks Department Chief Information Officer classification at a grade IT10. This will also be a new classification to be created if reviewed by the committee. The position will serve as the lead IT officer at the department and will be responsible for developing, planning and implementing all information technology needs and projects. The swap will reduce the total number of positions at parks by one. OPM has recommended the requested position and the classification, and estimates the cost of the position to be about $110,000. 

 

Davis Any questions on this? Seeing none, motion for review. Do I have a second? Any discussion? All those in favor, please say aye. Opposed no. Motion carries. And that is it for today. Thank you all. Meeting’s adjourned.