Personnel Subcommittee, Joint Budget
October 19, 2022
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- Statewide pay raises (information only)
- Positions for next biennium (all approved)
- Labor and Licensing
- Health Department
- Parks and Tourism
- Public Employees Retirement
- Teachers Retirement
- Military Department
- Veterans Affairs
- Transportation Department
- Public Service Commission
- Ethics Commission
- Claims Commission
- Disability Determination
- Public Defenders Commission
- Election Commission
- Judicial Discipline
Sen Wallace: Thank you for being here today. And we’re going to get started with Personnel. And Kay. If you’re ready, you’ll lead off.
Statewide pay raises
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir. In your packet, you will immediately see a state pay plan proposal. I’d like to go over this proposal with you. This is what the Office of Personnel Management is proposing for the next biennium for all state employees. What you will find in this– if you ask, “Why do we need a pay plan adjustment,” we did the pay plan back in 2017. We did an adjustment at that particular point in time, but a lot of changes have occurred in the market since that plan went into effect. We’ve got extremely high employer demand for employees. We’ve had inflation. As you know, we brought before Personnel Committee and joint budget over the past year, several labor market plans, several labor market grids, all kinds of special needs for employees. So a pay plan proposal in this packet would affect all state employees, not just a select group of employees. So what we’ve done with this new pay plan, to keep it pretty simple, as we’re trying to move closer to the labor market rate, we have increased the minimum for all grades by 20% and have also increased the maximum by 20%. This makes a significant change in the pay range for every job that we have. Now, what that will mean, upon implementation, not all employees are going to receive 20% by any way, shape, or form. What’s going to happen is we will implement the pay plan, implement the new grid. Employees will either go to the minimum of the new pay table for their grade or they will get what we call a seniority adjustment. Seniority adjustments will range from 2 to 10 percent based on every 5 years of service.
Barnhill (OPM): So if you’ve been here under 5 years, you would be looking at a 2% increase. If you’ve been here over 20, you’d be looking at a 10% increase. The reason we’re doing it that way is to keep relationships that have been established through the years– some of y’all might have been here in 2017, where you had a lot of older employees feel like they did not get treated as fairly as newer employees. And this is our way of trying to address that problem that we ran into with the implementation of the last pay plan. Most importantly, the total cost for the pay plan is approximately $41 million in general revenue. So what I want to point out here, this will be in general revenue. We’re looking at placing this money in the Performance Fund, where it will be placed and agencies can access it as they need it and have utilized other funding sources. Let me make sure you understand. When we implement employees, we have gone through– to get to the $41 million cost, we’ve looked at every current employee in state government at this point in time and determined whether they will go to the minimum or whether they will get the seniority adjustment. Employees will not get both, but they’ll get whatever is most beneficial to that particular employee. So that is the way we’ve done it. The next part of your attachment goes through the four basic pay plans that we have. The pay plan that is populated with about 95% of our employees and government is our general salaries pay table. You will see here we made significant in-roads and that our minimums are now up by the 20%. Grades 1 through 5 are a little bit higher than 20%. Yes, ma’am, page 4. Page 4. Yes, yes, ma’am. Sorry about that.
Barnhill (OPM): Page 4 reflects the pay plan, like I mentioned earlier, that the majority of state employees are in, and page four is where we’ve made significant adjustments. In Grades 1 through 5, we’ve gone a little bit over 20% for the minimum because, as you may recall, over the past year, we’ve had a salary grid and we used the midpoint of the current pay plan for the starting range of 1 through 5. And that’s what we’ve adjusted to here. Everywhere else from 6 through 15, we’ve done a 20% adjustment to the minimum, 20% adjustment to the maximum. And let me stress, the need for the adjustment to the maximum is critical because, over the past several years, employees have maxed out and have nowhere to go. And we’ve had employees leaving state government because they’ve already reached the maximum of their grade and they receive all their payments as lump sums. This will allow those employees to get percentage increases as all other employees as we go across the next biennium. Page 5 is what we call our information technology pay plan. These are jobs that are generally in the IT sector, and again, we’ve done the same thing to these jobs on page 5, the IT jobs. All plans are essentially four plans for state employees at this point in time, and all plans receive the 20% adjustment to both the min and the max. Medical professionals, that’s a lot of your nursing positions and certainly all of your physician positions, a lot of your crime lab positions, you’re going to find in the medical professional pay plan. And then the final pay plan on page 7 is what we call our senior executive pay plan. This is where most of your appointee-type positions are located, and they also receive the same 20% adjustment. I mentioned a little bit earlier about avoiding salary compression, so that’s why we’re using the seniority adjustment approach.
Barnhill (OPM): And like I said, a lot of employees might go to the entry rate, but most of your older employees will go far beyond the entry rate. On page 9, we just brought you a graph so you could see what the labor market has been doing compared to the projected midpoint of our new pay plan. And I think you will see it will put Arkansas in a much more competitive position when trying to attract new employees. The major complaint that my office receives at this point in time is the inability to attract new employees to state government, and so that’s one of our major thrusts with this particular plan. And I will be happy to answer any questions you might have on this pay plan. Anything?
Sen Wallace: And Representative Jean, you are recognized, sir.
Rep Jean: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ms. Kay, I’m over here. How are you doing today?
Barnhill (OPM): I’m doing well.
Rep Jean: Of course, this will take, if implemented, effect July 1 of 2023, right?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir.
Rep Jean: Do we have any idea– have y’all done any kind of study what’s the bottom-line increase across the board to the state budget if we implement this pay plan?
Barnhill (OPM): Well, this is why we were looking at putting the funding in the Performance Fund, Representative Jean, because we’re projecting the total cost would be $41 million, but very seldom do we ever go to that total amount. So we’re going to be asking our state departments and agencies to utilize their existing resources first and then access that fund as they need to later on in the fiscal year.
Rep Jean: So you think $41 million is the high-water mark?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir, I do.
Rep Jean: You think that could be, but you anticipate it being–
Barnhill (OPM): It could be a lot less.
Rep Jean: Well, what’s a lot less?
Barnhill (OPM): The reason I’m saying that, Representative–
Rep Jean: And we’re ballparking. I’m not going to hold you to it. But I like a ballpark.
Barnhill (OPM): Okay. Okay. Yeah. Robert is saying possibly half. It might be–
Rep Jean: So $20, $25 million?
Barnhill (OPM): Yeah.
Rep Jean: Robert?
Brech (DFA): Robert Brech, Budget Office. Just based on past hits on the Performance Fund by agencies, it’s typically much, much less than what we’ve put in there. As you recall, in the last budget talks we had about the Performance Fund, very little was actually taken out this last year. So we do think it’ll be much less. Now, what will impact it, also absorbing some of the excess funding that perhaps people could use for salary savings are the rather large increases that were made. But we’re making up for some of that when we built the base for each agency. So the hope is it would be much less. $41 million is probably the top, and I would hope it would be half that.
Rep Jean: Now, do we still have a Performance Fund balance?
Brech (DFA): We do. I–
Rep Jean: How much is in there?
Brech (DFA): I’m going to guess. Because very little came out at the end of the year, so there could be as much as $70 million in there. But don’t quote me on that. We knew that it was going to take a big hit this year with the 27th pay period, and so there will be monies that come out this time, especially with the 27th pay period. But I think the current balance is around $70 million.
Rep Jean: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sen Wallace: Senator Chesterfield, you are recognized, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And I thank you for the effort. I’m still wondering who is working for $26,000 a year now? Who are those people? Under general salaries, give me some examples of who that is.
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, generally, that’s your Grade 1 position. We have very few Grade 1 positions, Senator Chesterfield.
Sen Chesterfield: So you ought to be able to tell me some of who they are then?
Barnhill (OPM): Well, most of them are extra help positions, people that come in, temporary help in the summertime, sometimes at some of the parks and other places like that. But I think there’s only– I should know exactly what position it was, but I think there may be one maintenance position that’s actually classified as a GS-1.
Sen Chesterfield: And so the rest of them really would start at the 28 mark?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: Well, who’s in that category?
Barnhill (OPM): Okay. Well, in your Grade 2s and 3s right now, what comes to mind, we have some administrative specialists that may not have the skills, computer skills but may be processing documents as they come in and out of the office. I think Grade 3 has some revenue clerks at that particular level. It also has some administrative positions and some entry-level maintenance positions in Grades 2 and 3 as well.
Sen Chesterfield: So we have administrators who are making $46,000 and $51,000?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, we might if they’ve been here– no, not yet. They could possibly with this new pay plan.
Sen Chesterfield: All right. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: And Senator Johnson, you are recognized, sir.
Sen B Johnson: Just probably a simple question, what– I can see the minimum adjustment. If you adjust the maximum 20%– if you adjust the maximum 20%, why is the seniority adjustment at 10?
Barnhill (OPM): Well, because we were trying to make it affordable. Biggest problem with the maximum right now is that you have some long-term employees who have maxed out, as I mentioned earlier. We certainly saw that this past year when the additional 2% and the merit raises were awarded. But if we raise it by 20%, some of those employees will get a 10% tenure adjustment but still have 10% left within their range to progress for other factors, such as merit, etc.
Sen B Johnson: So instead of half, it’ll be closer to two-thirds, in my simple math.
Barnhill (OPM): Could be.
Sen B Johnson: Thank you.
Sen Wallace: Senator Hammer, you’re recognized, sir.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. The resources that were mentioned a while ago– I think Robert mentioned them– that would be used, could you kind of go down a little deeper on what those resources would have been? Would it have been money within their budget that they had but had not been used? Or can you identify that?
Barnhill (OPM): Right. Well, what generally happens– and Robert can certainly clarify this for me if he needs to, but generally, what happens when an agency accesses the Performance Fund, they have to document and certify that they’ve used all available funds that they have. Some of those additional salaries that they’ve collected over the year might be due to vacancies, may be due to having to hold positions vacant longer than filling those positions at the same time, or other saving measures that the agency might have put in place.
Sen Hammer: Knowing that, were there monies that were available for the agencies to go ahead and do something the way the pay grade without having to do it before we asked for it to be done? Or what were their limitations to keep them from being able to do it sooner?
Barnhill (OPM): I guess I’m not quite understanding, Senator Hammer. You mean–
Sen Hammer: If they had the resources available, what was it that was prohibiting them from being able to do anything in the giving of raises? Is it because of the pay grades? They hit the ceiling and unless we did something legislatively, the money was there, but they couldn’t do anything with it because there was–
Barnhill (OPM): In some cases, right, because the grade range itself didn’t allow for interim adjustments. I think as you’ve been on Personnel and seen over the year, a lot of departments have come in with interim-type adjustments, trying to make those changes. But at some place, you just hit the wall if the range does not allow you to do that.
Sen Hammer: Okay. Then if that’s the case, what do you anticipate in the future, that we’d have to come back and do this again? Because are we going to be working our way right back into the same situation if inflation continues, if minimum wage ranges continue to go up? Is this a short-term fix? Or how is this going to be a long-term solution? Do we need to review it every year and make adjustments to it as we go? Or can you give insight on that?
Barnhill (OPM): Generally, yes, I think pay tables need to be reviewed at least every biennium to ensure that they’re keeping up to the market. However, that always has a price tag associated with it. And sometimes when we make substantial changes, we hope that they will last more than just one to two years. But generally, OPM always reviews the pay plan in light of what has happened over the previous years. As you know, this past year, with the inflation rate over 8%, it’s been a pretty significant hit for most state departments.
Sen Hammer: Right. And then was there consideration for critical areas, such as nursing shortage? We just had the VA in here in front of this and the difficulty of getting nurses. So was there any consideration given for areas that are a little bit more difficult to recruit and train? And do the pay range recommendations take that into consideration?
Barnhill (OPM): Okay. Right now, what I’m presenting to you today did not consider the special needs. I think during the budget process, when you look at agency requests, and then we also talk about– and I’ve got another statement to make on that as soon as we finish going over this pay plan. But that’s when we look at those particular needs, either through labor market rates, through grade changes, or other possibilities. So that is somewhat separate to this particular pay plan proposal.
Sen Hammer: All right. So how will this coordinate with what they’re going to recommend? And when these agencies come through, are we going to have to go back and look at this and adjust it? Maybe an agency might recommend something higher than this. Or what was the coordinated effort between y’all and the individual agency so that these actually take that into consideration?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir. I’ll be happy to address that. What you’re going to find during the budget hearings, as we go through each department’s budget at this point in time, is that you will not find any executive recommendations for what we call upgrades– that’s when you change the grade of a position– or reclassifications– that’s when you change the title of a position– or for additional positions at this point in time. The main reason we did not make those recommendations to begin with is in order to see what the pay plan actually– how that impacts those particular requests. We have several thousand requests, which we think the pay plan in itself will address. Saying that, however, there’s still going to be some outliers that may need to be addressed again. And that will come later in the process, that we will come back to you once the new administration is in place and we’ve gone over all those recommendations with that administration as well to make sure that we’re reflecting the desires at that particular point in time.
Sen Hammer: Okay. Can I get one more, Mr. Chairman? I’ll be done. One more.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. The Performance Fund balance sitting at $71 million, refresh my memory what they had to do to get money out of that. When I hear Performance Fund, that means that employees are performing up to a certain level that entitles them to be able to get extra. Or am I wrong on that or give me a quick education.
Brech (DFA): Yeah, I don’t know why the Performance Fund is called the Performance Fund, but it’s not for that particular reason. Now they can use it for merit raises, things like that, but the Performance Fund is there just to make sure that agencies can do one of two things. Either the money is there if they don’t have any salary savings that they can utilize internally, and we also let them budget against the Performance Fund. And sometimes in the budget manual, you’ll see a line for Performance Fund. We’ve allowed them to budget some funds against the Performance Fund. They don’t get those funds unless there’s an actual shortfall. But we do let them budget the funds, and that’s why we would have to have the money there to– at least the $41 million. And just to let you know, we think after the obligations of FY 2023, the 27th pay period is going to be a pretty big hit on the Performance Fund after those obligations. There still will be $22 million left after the obligations, just to make sure that that’s clear. But it’s really there to allow them to budget, and it’s there as a safeguard in the event they don’t have any savings internally.
Sen Hammer: So what’s the number we need to look at keeping in that going forward? If it’s $71 now, the hit is going to be $43, take us down to $22. When we get around the 2025, 2026 or whatever that session falls, are we going to need to look at raising that, or we hope that there’s internal savings to build that back up?
Brech (DFA): Two things can happen, and it’s really up to– it’s a policy decision of yours how much to have in there. Two things, there needs to be enough money in there for the obligations that we’re budgeting against. What that balance needs to be is probably– doesn’t need to be as high as $70 million. There were a lot of potential, I guess, requests of that fund that could have happened that didn’t happen in the last session because I think there were so many vacancies. That impacts how much the Performance Fund will be hit. There needs to be enough money in there for the obligations, and it may have to be shored up some in 2026. That really depends on how much is used in 2025– 2024, rather. Depending on what’s used in 2024, we’ll know how much we might need in 2025.
Sen Hammer: All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. Representative Cavenaugh, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Rep Cavenaugh: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m up here to your right. I just want to go back and ask a question. You said that we were going to look at raises from 2% to 10%.
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Rep Cavenaugh: And then when we get to the executive pay, we’re going to give them a 20% raise?
Barnhill (OPM): No, ma’am. All employees will either receive a 2% or 10% raise or the entry level of their grade.
Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. What was the 20% you spoke of?
Barnhill (OPM): 20% is just raising the minimum and the maximums of the grades, but it’s not giving people a 20% raise at that point. Most people are well above the minimum of their grades at this point in time.
Secretary (agency head) salaries
Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. Well, if you look at SE05, the minimum now is $167,096, and you want to raise it to $205,000? I mean, that’s a big jump. So are you saying most of them are already making the $200,000?
Barnhill (OPM): They are in the vicinity– they are somewhere between the $167 and the $201 right now. Most of the secretaries are– I think we have some secretaries getting close.
Rep Cavenaugh: Okay. But the reason I ask is we’re going to be giving those people raises of about, by your table, $21,000 to $40,000. Okay? That’s more than some of our people even make, and some of these were for appointed positions, secretary positions. I mean, why do we feel such a need to jump them so much higher?
Barnhill (OPM): Okay. What we did was basically look at all the pay plans and treated them all consistently, and that was to raise those minimums by 20% and maximums by 20%. The intent was not set out there to give people $20,000 and $40,000 raises at all. And we can look at that some more.
Rep Cavenaugh: Yeah, I mean, what guarantee do we have that once you raise these that we don’t get a request to put someone up to the minimum or beyond? I mean–
Barnhill (OPM): We can’t guarantee that. As you know, there is a clause that– but it does have to come over here for review before that can actually occur.
Rep Cavenaugh: Review but not approval. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: Senator Flowers, you are recognized, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think my questions have been addressed. I wanted to know more about the Performance Fund. Is that something that accrues yearly, stays in that agency, and they still get to ask for more?
Brech (DFA): It can be used yearly. For instance, when the merit increases occurred, that can be used for that purpose because those weren’t built into the budget in the last biennium. If you look at the budgeting for each position in the last biennium, it wouldn’t have had those additional increases. So the Performance Fund is there to help with that.
Sen Flowers: But didn’t we appropriate more money for any merit?
Brech (DFA): It is built into this budget manual. You’ll see that the– if you look at the top line for those salaries, you’ll see an increase. That increase across all agencies was around $40 million to get everybody those monies. But future increases or whatever the merit increase might be next year, those won’t be built into the budget manual. We’ll use the Performance Fund if needed. But it turns out, with salary savings, you don’t have to utilize the Performance Fund at its maximum amount. We require them to use their funding first. It’s only there to shore up in the event that they need it. And because of all of the empty positions and the salary savings, it just hasn’t been needed much lately.
Sen Flowers: And then the other thing was you’ve done a comparison with other states and other markets for competitive pay?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am. That’s the graph. The last page here. Let me see. Page 9 somewhat reflects– we did a comparison with other states. We did a comparison with private industry within Arkansas. And we had benchmark positions that we used to make our decision that we were 20% below, and that’s how we came to this particular conclusion.
Sen Flowers: So this is the whole US labor market comparison?
Barnhill (OPM): This is our comparison with surrounding states, not the whole US, surrounding states and other private industries within our general area. We don’t usually compare too much around some of the northeastern states and some of the other states that are unionized because Arkansas is not a unionized state. So we try to stay pretty much in the southeastern region to compare against those particular states.
Sen Flowers: Okay. And this is just for the employment skills in state government, or you do private comparisons, too?
Barnhill (OPM): We compare state government jobs to private jobs.
Sen Flowers: And that’s what this represents.
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: It just seems like, since most of these positions, the pay scale affects state employment. So if you’re doing state-to-state comparisons, it seems like that would have been broken out in your graph.
Barnhill (OPM): Well, there is– I mean, we belong to the salary conference for all states, so we do have data on all states’ pay. Primarily in Arkansas, we find that we are recruiting in state for most of our positions. Sometimes you get to some specialized positions that we have to go out of state to recruit from, but we generally try to remain competitive within the state and with our surrounding state because that’s where our labor market groupings generally are.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, ma’am. Senator Elliot, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Sen Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just have a couple of questions. When you talked about the outliers, sometimes– I’m not on the committee presently, so I appreciate the opportunity to ask a question. I recall, though, when I was there, we talked a great deal, for example, about with nurses, if there were somebody in a market where the demand was higher, we would have to figure out ways to do that. So after going through this process and we were still not competitive, we would deploy that system, I’m assuming, right?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Elliott: Okay. Still do that?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Elliott: And when we do, I’m not clear on if it’s somewhere we don’t meet the market with our salary or it’s somewhere geographically it’s just really tough to get somebody in those areas, we deploy that method either way, don’t we?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am. Yes. Within the class and compact today, we have the ability to establish special entry rates, which we do for nursing positions at any point in time, because we have had trouble with nursing positions in the past. Also, we have the ability for what we call a geographic differential. Right now, Northwest Arkansas is booming, and sometimes they have to have an added percentage to be able to attract people there. But also in Southeast Arkansas, we don’t have a labor pool, and we need to add a percentage to be able to attract people there. So those are all interim type measures that we can address during the year. Those are brought to OPM, and we bring them forward to the Personnel Committee and Joint Budget Committee for their review to try to implement those measures at the appropriate times.
Sen Elliott: And are there guidelines for how far we can go or is it just a discussion?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Elliott: Okay. Are they the same guidelines generally for if it’s a geographical problem or a labor market problem, otherwise?
Barnhill (OPM): Geographic differentials are limited to 10% on top of an employee’s base salary. Labor markets can go all the way to the maximum of a pay grade. But that would require Legislative Personnel Committee review.
Sen Elliott: Okay. And my last question has to do with whether if we were to choose any number– I’ll just move over to the new proposed pay plan. If it were a family of four– let’s just say we were at $28,585, that minimum. A family of four, would we, in Arkansas, then meet or exceed the federal poverty rate if it were a family of four with that kind of salary? Do we know?
Barnhill (OPM): Senator Elliott, I don’t have information with me. I’d be happy to look that up and be able to respond to that.
Sen Elliott: Yeah. And so if we do so, and if you get that– I can really look it up, I guess. But it just occurred to me. I’m wondering because I know there have been times when the salaries we are paying folks from the state still leaves that family at the federal poverty rate. And–
Barnhill (OPM): There are so many variables that affect that particular determination that we do have some families that still require some assistance, but that’s on an individual case analysis at that particular point in time. And generally, they will come to us. Actually, I’ve had employees ask not to get a raise before because they would lose their assistance if we actually made that raise. So we’ve had that situation evolve in the past. That’s not common. I’m not trying to say that’s every day, but it has happened.
Sen Elliott: Is that assistance usually from a federal fund, a federal program?
Barnhill (OPM): I think it’s generally, yeah,
Sen Elliott: Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Senator Stubblefield, you’re recognized, sir.
Inflation and demand
Sen Stubblefield: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I want to go back just real quick why you’re having this pay adjustment and why you think it’s necessary. First of all, you gave three reasons. Inflation is one of those. Everyone experiences inflation. Would you agree to that?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir.
Sen Stubblefield: Whether you work for the state or whether you work anywhere else, everybody experiences it. And not everybody has had a pay increase in the last six years. Would you agree to that?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir.
Sen Stubblefield: Okay. Here’s the question I want to ask. Are there particular jobs that fall into some of these categories that are more competitive? Let’s say IT jobs versus general salary jobs. There’s much more demand for IT jobs than there are general service jobs, correct?
Barnhill (OPM): IT is certainly a very fluid market, and that’s why we separated them into a separate pay table itself to be able to address some of their unique needs. Yes, sir.
Sen Stubblefield: So how do you break these down as to what’s needed more than some of the others? I mean, you just–
Barnhill (OPM): Well, what we have experienced over the past year is that all employees in all four tables have had trouble being recruited for. For example, you have a family service worker. I’m going to pull that out of the top of my head. They’re at DHS. They have a very high vacancy rate. Correctional officers on the GS plan have very high vacancy rates at this particular point. So we’ve got jobs such as that running the gamut, but we also have system analysis and database administrators seem to be extremely difficult for us to employ at this particular point in time. So what we’ve seen over the past two years is jobs are vacant longer. I think Robert mentioned that by talking about the performance fund, having more money in it. Jobs are vacant and we’re not able to attract. We’ve also had a change with practices in the labor market for us, and we’ve got more younger people looking for a lot of different things when they go to apply for a job. Compensation is the first level we use when trying to attract new people to the market.
Sen Stubblefield: We’ve always had a shortage of some of these areas, especially DHS workers and correctional facility workers. We’ve had a high turnover rate in those historically.
Barnhill (OPM): Right.
Sen Stubblefield: So what are you contributing this highly competitive, extremely competitive labor market, what are you contributing this to? Is it because people just quit working?
Barnhill (OPM): Well, I don’t know if it’s because of people that have quit working. I know within our particular instance, we’ve got an aging workforce within the state and a lot of people are retiring and leaving and taking a lot of historical knowledge with them. So now, we are trying to concentrate on bringing more people into the workforce to take over and gain that knowledge that’s necessary to keep some of the daily operations going. I mean, that’s one factor. We’ve got very high pay in parts of Arkansas for a lot of positions. That makes it difficult to attract those positions too.
Sen Stubblefield: Do we have a lot of young people leaving the state?
Barnhill (OPM): We don’t have a lot of young people coming in, to be quite honest with you. That’s why we’ve tried some programs like the internship and other programs trying to attract people to come in the state government and see that it is a good place to work.
Sen Stubblefield: Mr. Chairman, thank you. I appreciate that.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized, sir.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. Let me just touch on that real quick and ask you a question following up there. Like in DHS, the turnover rate is pretty excessive in critical areas. Was there a consideration in the discussion about doing something in areas that specifically have a historically high rate of turnover and do these recommendations reflect that?
Barnhill (OPM): I think this will address that situation for a lot of jobs that have historically high rates of turnovers. I do.
Sen Hammer: And I understand there are certain things you can’t– I don’t care what you offer. If people don’t want to live in a certain area or the population isn’t there, no matter what the money is, we’re not going to be able to– we’ve got to figure out a different solution. But the money should address the issue based on what you are presenting.
Barnhill (OPM): I think, Senator Hammer, if we go back and look over the past two years and those of you that have been on Personnel Committee previously will realize that we’ve done a lot of labor market rates, a lot of pool position, a lot of exceptionally well qualified rates for certain groups of employees. When we’ve done that, we’ve left other groups of employees behind. And part of the purpose of this pay plan is to do a holistic approach, trying to address all employees with this proposal, realizing we may still have to come back if we continue to have issues with some of those high demand jobs.
Sen Hammer: All right. So one last question then. In your discussions about the pay plan, and this is an area I harped on before, money is part of the problem, but money may not be all of the problem. You may be dealing with issues that employees want to channel their thoughts and what they think would be good corrective action plans. In the pay plan, was there any discussion about that or is this just simply about the dollars and cents?
Barnhill (OPM): This plan is simply about the dollars and cents at this point in time.
Sen Hammer: All right, thank you.
Sen Wallace: And members, there’s not a vote on this. This is for information. I have three left in the queue. I’m going to take those and then we will move on. That’s Representative Scott, then Senator Chesterfield and then Senator Flowers. And with that, Representative Scott, you’re recognized.
Rep Scott: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just a question to understand the process. So 10% is what someone would have the flexibility, like an administrator, to give the raise according to the study?
Barnhill (OPM): Okay. What will happen with the implementation of this particular plan, all employees would be evaluated and they would either be assigned to the minimum of their pay grade or they would get a seniority adjustment ranging from 2 to 10. It’s automatic. It’s not really at an administrator’s discretion. It would be automatically applied to those employees based on their years of service.
Rep Scott: So did the survey say that we’re 10% behind the market rate? Is that why–?
Barnhill (OPM): Oh, excuse me. I didn’t mean to interrupt. The survey basically indicated that we were closer to 20% behind the market rate. That’s why we’re doing the 20%, some cases 25, some cases more. That’s why we did the 20% overall adjustment to the table.
Rep Scott: Okay. So this is a market rate raise and not necessarily a merit plus–?
Barnhill (OPM): It’s not a performance raise.
Rep Scott: Okay. I got you. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized.
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you again, Kay, for being here. We are, for the first time, in an employee’s market, are we not?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: In the past, we’ve been in an employer market. But during COVID, people discovered their value. And so if they don’t like what’s going on right now, young people will move every six months. We stayed in professions 20 and 30 years. That is no longer the case. And we’re going to have to be nimble to attract and retain. And it’s not just about salary, it’s also about benefits, which is one of the reasons we’re looking at the health insurance piece. We should be looking at other things as well, like infrastructure. What can we do to build housing so that these people will go into these high needs areas that they refuse to go into? Now there’s got to be something, but we can’t solve it all. But personnel wise, we can deal with this issue today to help us move apace, to try to keep up with Amazon, to try to keep up with Walmart, Costco, all of these other places. Is that what you’re telling us today?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you.
Sen Wallace: And Senator Flowers, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Thank you. So this is just for salary, dealing with salary. What about benefits in terms of affecting the bottom line, the $41 million, what would the state obligation be?
Barnhill (OPM): The $41 million included the matching cost that we have at this point in time. So that $41 million wasn’t just salary cost, but did include all matching costs associated with this raise.
Sen Flowers: Okay, thank you.
Sen Wallace: And I’m going to recognize my Co-chair, Representative Wooten.
Rep Wooten: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Kay, do you have an average dollar increase that will be throughout state government?
Barnhill (OPM): No, sir. I’ll be happy to check and get that information for you.
Rep Wooten: Mr. Chairman, several good points have been made. Every question that’s been asked is relevant to what has created this situation in the final analysis. And I think Senator Hammer is exactly right, and Kay’s response was perfect. We’re going to have to continue to evaluate to be a good employer. And to Senator Chesterfield’s point, it’s a whole different world out there. The pandemic has created a lot of it. But I think that in order to be a good employer, we’re going to have to address and look at salary structure every session that we meet, both fiscal and regular sessions, because of the fact that it’s a moving target. And if we’re going to be a good employer, we’re going to have to offer benefits and salaries that will permit us to be able to provide the services that the people of Arkansas need. And I think I want to commend Kay and DFA for their effort on this because it’s a challenge and we’ve got to face up to it. And also, I want to ask Kay and Robert this question. If we keep pace, will the performance fund not have to be increased as we catch up? But we got to catch up. We’re way behind. Is that not true? If we address the salary structure as we move through the process, if we address that regularly– Kay, did you say 2017 was the last time that we really–
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, sir, that was six years.
Rep Wooten: See, that’s five years. And man, that’s a generation in today’s world. But is that not right? Will that investment become less because we keep pace?
Brech (DFA): If we keep pace, there will have to be more money put in the performance fund. The thing about using the performance fund to do this and my friends in the audience with agencies probably would prefer to get the money and not have to go through the performance fund. What that does is it decreases the cost of the state, because they can’t get those funds unless they’re actually needed. Now, eventually, yes, we’re going to have to build into the base, these salary increases. But by using the performance fund, it’s going to make it less expensive in the short term and give us a better picture of what we’re actually going to need going forward.
Rep Wooten: Okay. So then looking at all the positions, the vacant positions over two years and that type of thing, over half of those are funded budgeted positions. And that money could be reallocated in other places, whether it be in health and in agency. I’m not saying take it away from that agency, but I’m saying you can reallocate that within the salary structure of those agencies. If you look at it, and we stop playing these games of coming in and, ‘We’ll give you five if you’ll give us one,’ and, ‘We’ll do away with this,’ or, ‘We are not going to use these five positions and we need that to use that money over here.’ That’ll cease, right?
Brech (DFA): I hope so.
Rep Wooten: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sen Wallace: Senator Hammer, if you’ll queue up, I’m going to let you have the last question, sir. And Senator Hammer, you’re recognized, sir.
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Mr. Chair. The impact to the retirement system, did you all throw that in the mix of anything? I mean, if we’re going to be increasing salaries, I can’t help but think that if we retain those employees, it would be a benefit to the retirement system. Or did you all even factor that into discussion?
Barnhill (OPM): We did not, Senator Hammer.
Sen Hammer: Okay. All right, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Members, with that, Kay, thank you very much. We’re going to move on. And Mr. Robinson, if you will, go ahead.
Positions for the biennium
Robinson (BLR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ve just got a few notes and remarks before we get started with the staff presentations. On your agendas, as you look at your agendas, you’ll see certain divisions of departments or certain departments that say, ‘no change.’ That just means that the agency has had no personnel-related requests for this biennium. So there’s no change. So we have a form for them because every agency needs to be heard. But if there’s no changes, the form, all it shows is their current authorized total of positions and then their agency requested, which is the same, and their executive recommendation, which is also the same. So you’ll see those, and we’ll probably try to batch those in as we go. Also on your desk is a manila folder. In that manila folder is a pay plan, the current pay plan, a reference document that’s got a lot of definitions and terminology we may use in the committee. And then you’ll also see a list of all of the department’s divisions and standalone agencies. And it’s listed, and it’s got their authorized total positions by division and then by department. It’s got their number of budgeted positions that they budgeted in the last AOP. And then it’s also also got their as of October 1 number of vacant positions, and of those vacant positions, how many have been vacant for two years. So all of you have that in your folder to look at as we go through this. A couple of things I wanted to point out. Kay said this, but I wanted to reiterate it as we go through. There was a blanket denial by the Executive for any additional positions, for any new reclassifications, and any upgrades on positions as we move forward. And the reason for that was because of the implementation or the possible implementation of this pay plan. So as we go through that, that’s one big reason why the Executive denied or put these requests on hold. Okay?
Robinson (BLR): The other thing that you will see are out-of-family reclasses, which are positions that are authorized one way, they’re currently being used a different way. OPM has looked at those and said, “Okay, you’ve used it this way for a year or two years. We’re going to make it permanent.” So know if you were using an accountant as an administrative assistant, you no longer have the accountant position, you have the administrative assistant position. Okay? Those are out-of-family reclasses. Those have been recommended in places. You’ll see some title changes. Title change is strictly that, it’s changing the title. Doesn’t change the duties, doesn’t change the grade or a salary, strictly changes maybe a dog walker to a canine walker. It’s the same thing, just changes the terminology. And you’ll also see the continuation of pools, growth pool positions, swap pool positions, and MFG positions that the agencies have received over the interim. They have to ask for those to be continued and put into their bill. And so you’ll see those as most of them, I assume, are recommended. You’ll also see positions that are being eliminated. Lots of agencies have requested to eliminate positions that they no longer need or that have been vacant for a significant amount of time. So you’ll see those have also been recommended. So with that, Mr. Chairman, I’m done, unless there’s questions. Ms. Browning will do the presentation for Department of Labor Licensing.
Sen Wallace: And Miss Browning, if you will, announce yourself.
Browning (BLR): My name is Heather Browning, and I’m a legislative analyst for the Bureau of Legislative Research Personnel Section.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, ma’am. And proceed.
Labor and Licensing
Browning (BLR): I’ll be going over IMC, which is Department of Labor and Licensing, beginning with C1, labor and licensing shared services. The Department has 35 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for a continuation of one pool position, elimination of two positions, and two positions transferred from the State Board of Accountancy and the Athletic Commission respectively, resulting in a total number of 35 positions. Item C2 is the State Board of Accountancy. The State Board of Accountancy has 9 authorized positions. The board received executive recommendation for the elimination of two positions and the transfer of one position to the Department of Shared Services, leaving a total number of six positions for that particular board. Item C3 is the State Athletic Commission. The Division has two authorized positions. Executive recommendation is for the transfer of one position to Labor and Licensing Shared Services, resulting in a total of one position. Item C4 is the Division of Contractors Board. The Division has 18 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for the elimination of one position, resulting in a total of 17 positions for that board. Item C5 is the Towing and Recovery Board. The Division has 5 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for the continuation of one pool position, resulting in a total of 4 positions. Item C6 is the Arkansas Motor Vehicle Commission. The Commission has 7 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for the elimination of one position, resulting in a total of 6 positions. Item C7 is the Workers Compensation Commission. The Division has 107 authorized positions. The executive recommendation is for the elimination of two positions resulting in a total of 105 positions. Item C8 is the Division of Labor. The Division has 70 authorized positions. The executive recommendation is for the elimination of one position, resulting in a total of 69 positions. Exhibit C9 through C21 does not have any changes to their department’s commissions and respective boards. And that completes my presentation.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, Mrs. Browning. Members, we’re going to have one vote for all of the Department of Labor and Licensing. If there are any questions– I have one already– I’ll recognize those. And Senator Chesterfield, you are recognized, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, Mr. Chair. You have explained what the process will be. So are we going to look at all of these under C? If we need to pull out anything, then we can do that, otherwise we’re going to accept the whole thing. Is that right?
Sen Wallace: Yes, ma’am. If you would like to have something pulled out, we’ll pull something out.
Sen Chesterfield: All right. Well, motion at the proper time.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, ma’am. And Senator Flowers, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’m trying to understand growth pool positions. Under C5, the Towing and Recovery Board, five authorized positions and then the executive rec is four. Can you explain what the growth pool position– how does that work in there? Are you taking one less than five and putting it in a growth pool?
Browning (BLR): For this particular board, during the interim, they requested to surrender two positions in order to get one. So that’s how you get a total number of four positions for that particular board. So–
Sen Flowers: They offered to surrender two positions–
Browning (BLR): In order to get one.
Sen Wallace: And Kay, do you have something?
Sen Flowers: But they already had five authorized.
Browning (BLR): Yes, they had five authorized. So when they came into the interim and they made this particular request, they had five authorized positions. So they gave up two. So that left them with three positions. When they gained the one, then they ended up with a total of four as a result of ALC approving their particular request.
Sen Flowers: So what is the growth pool position? Is that something that agency has or– it’s an internal affairs investigator. Is that under some other agency?
Sen Wallace: And I believe that Kay may have that answer.
Barnhill (OPM): Senator Flowers, under the Uniform Class and Compensation Act–
Sen Flowers: I can hardly hear you. I don’t think her mic is on.
Barnhill (OPM): Can you hear me now?
Sen Flowers: Yes. Yeah.
Barnhill (OPM): Okay. Under the Uniform Class and Comp Act, which covers all executive branch agencies, we have three different types of pools. One of them is called a surrender pool. I believe there are 700 positions. That pool is utilized when an agency determines that they do not have a position of the correct grade to help them with a particular process, or they have a new unanticipated program. What they can do at that point is turn in one to however many positions they want to to get a higher level position. That’s available to all state departments and agencies. There’s also what we call a growth pool. That’s when an agency or department does not have any positions to give up, but they’ve had a new directive, a new program that’s been assigned to them, and they come to the growth pool and they request a new position. We bring all those requests over to Personnel Committee during the interim where they are approved. So what happens if they give up a position, we do not continue to recommend that that position be continued, but we will recommend the position that was established for them during the interim process.
Sen Flowers: Is it at the same grade?
Barnhill (OPM): No, ma’am. It’s almost always at a higher grade when they come in.
Sen Flowers: Okay, but it wouldn’t be shared– it’s not a position that’s shared by other agencies or–?
Barnhill (OPM): No. It’s very specific to the requesting department.
Sen Flowers: Okay. And obviously, they didn’t have an Internal Affairs investigator before. Is that what it is?
Barnhill (OPM): That would be my assumption.
Sen Flowers: Or they weren’t paying them sufficiently? Could it have been because of the pay?
Barnhill (OPM): Sometimes it is because of the pay. Yes, ma’am. Sometimes it’s because of the grade level. They might have had a lower level investigator and determined they need a higher level investigator. But that’s what occurs when they come to those pool positions.
Sen Wallace: Kay, you got some reinforcements on your right.
Barnhill (OPM): Okay.
Bassett (Labor): Mr. Chairman, Darryl Bassett, Secretary of Labor. I’d like to have an opportunity to just address this. This was a peculiar situation. Obviously, you see the number of employees there. We don’t have a lot of employees there. This was a situation where we’ve got a director that is going to be leaving. We had an employee already there, a number of years of service, and he had an opportunity to leave. And so we had a choice to make. First of all, obviously, we wanted to retain the institutional knowledge that this individual had. But we also were looking at the possibility of utilizing him as a possible replacement for the director. We were in a little bit of a dilemma. We went to OPM, and we said, “We need to retain this employee.” In order to do that, we will give up two positions if we need to in order to be able to retain this individual at a higher grade so that he can stay there and we could retain that institutional knowledge. That’s the backdrop of this particular situation.
Sen Wallace: And Senator Flowers, does that answer your question, ma’am?
Sen Flowers: It does.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, ma’am. Members, are there any other questions on Department of Labor? If not, Senator Chesterfield, I’ll recognize you for your motion.
Sen Chesterfield: Executive rec.
Sen Wallace: Go ahead, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: Or do we just move review? What is our proper motion?
Sen Wallace: Yes. For executive rec.
Sen Chesterfield: Yes.
Sen Wallace: Okay. And I have a second. Members, we have a motion and a second. All in favor? Any opposed? And that has passed. And Mrs. Browning, you may go on to Department of Health.
Bassett (Labor): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, sir.
Browning (BLR): Item D is Department of Health. Item D1 is the Chiropractic Examiner Board. The Division has 2 authorized positions and did not receive executive recommendation for a grade change. The result of their request and executive recommendation left no changes to their total number of positions. Item D2 is the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners. The board has 3 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for the elimination of one position, resulting in a total of 2 positions. Item D3, Arkansas Dietetics Licensing Board. The board has one authorized position and executive recommendation did not recommend one grade change. No change in the number of positions for the board. Item D4 is the State Medical Board. The Board has 41 authorized positions and executive recommendation recommended eliminating 7 positions, resulting in a total number of 34 positions for the medical board. Item D7 is the State Board of Nursing. The Board has 30 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for continuation of one pool position. No change in total positions. Item D6 is the Dispensing Opticians Board. The board has one authorized position and did not receive executive recommendation for a grade change. No change in the total positions. Item D7 is the State Optometry Board. The board has two authorized positions. The division did not receive a executive recommendation for a grade change, leaving no changes in the total positions for the board. Item D8 is the State Board of Pharmacy. The board has 11 authorized positions. The board received executive recommendation for the elimination of one position, but did not receive executive recommendation for one reclassification, resulting in a total of 10 positions for the pharmacy board. Item D9 is the Arkansas Psychology Board. The board has 2 authorized positions and did not receive executive recommendation for one grade change. No change in the total number of positions.
Browning (BLR): Item D10 is the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission. The Commission has 27 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for the elimination of two positions, resulting in a total of 25 positions. Item D11 is the Minority Health Commission, which also has special language. The commission has 8 authorized positions. The Commission received executive recommendation for the continuation of one pool position, resulting in a total of 9 positions. They also received executive recommendation for a continuation of their special language discussing their positions for the tobacco settlement funds. This special language just basically states that the State of Arkansas and any of its agencies or institutions will not continue to fund any positions paid from the proceeds of tobacco settlement in the event that the funds are not sufficient to finance the position. Number two, state funds will not replace tobacco settlement funds when funds expire. And number three, a disclosure of language shall be available to new hires and included in the employee handbook or professional services. Item D12 is the Tobacco Settlement Commission, which also has special language. The Commission has 2 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for the elimination of one position, resulting in a total of one position for the commission. They also received executive recommendation for their special language, which is the exact same for the Minority Health Commission dealing with tobacco settlement funds and employees hired in positions paid by tobacco settlement funds. Item D13 is the Health Department. The Health Department has 2,313 authorized positions. The Health Department did not receive executive recommendation for one new classification, 13 grade changes, and 5 additional positions. The Health Department did receive executive recommendation for a continuation of 24 MFG positions, and this is listed on the rest of page 16, all of page 17, and line 5 on page 18. The department also received executive recommendation for the elimination of 64 positions, which are listed on the rest of page 18, pages 19 through 20, and lines 5 through 8 on page 21. The rest of page 21 to page 25 lists executive recommendation for 82 out-of-family reclassifications due to the use of these positions during the interim. All recommended changes result in a total of 2,272 positions. The Health Department also has special language, which is the exact same as the Minority Health Commission and also with the Tobacco Settlement Commission, basically saying that the State of Arkansas cannot use state funds to fund positions that are funded by tobacco settlement nor can they use state funds to replace tobacco settlement funds, and all employees hired in positions paid by tobacco settlement funds must be made aware of how the position works under such funding. Item D14, that’s on page 27, is the Health Services Permit agency. The agency has 5 authorized positions. The executive recommendation is for the elimination of one position, resulting in a total of 4 positions. And exhibits D15 through D19 do not have any changes. And that completes my presentation for Department of Health.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, Mrs. Browning. Senator Hammer, you’re recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On the tobacco settlement conversation, basically we’re going to tell those employees this is like federal funding. If the federal funds go away, your job goes away. Is that pretty much it in a nutshell?
Browning (BLR): That’s correct.
Sen Hammer: And do you happen to have personal knowledge about the tobacco summit funds now to know if there are sufficient funds for the areas that would be affected by this or how far out into the future we might see a decline?
Browning (BLR): I refer that question to Kay.
Sen Hammer: Good call.
Barnhill (OPM): I don’t have that answer, Senator Hammer. I think someone from Health Department may be here, but I don’t know.
Sen Wallace: And if you will announce yourself, Mr. Gilmore.
Gilmore (Health): Matt Gilmore, Department of Health. Senator Hammer, repeat your second question one more time. I’m sorry.
Sen Hammer: This is all built around the–
Gilmore (Health): The continuation of funding and what would happen if the funding goes away? Is that–
Sen Hammer: Yeah. I mean, it’s being treated like federal funds that if the money goes away, their job goes away, and that’s going to be put in a hiring package so they know that.
Gilmore (Health): Yeah. That’s part of– yeah. Correct.
Sen Hammer: Okay.
Gilmore (Health): So as far as long term, the money will continue as long as tobacco products are sold. There’s not really an end date in sight, but those payments basically are starting to decrease. But we don’t have an end date. I don’t think it’ll happen anytime soon.
Sen Hammer: Okay. The whole idea that it was being put in there suggests to me that there’s some suspicion that somewhere out in the future, this is going to start coming down.
Gilmore (Health): It should end at some point, but we don’t have a date in sight.
Sen Hammer: You don’t have a projection, or?
Gilmore (Health): There’s not really– I mean, it’s based on the– there’s lots of different factors that go into that payment every year that comes to the state. It’s inflation, there’s sales. It’s a large formula that the AG’s office works on with the tobacco companies. But I think long term, I think we feel confident it’s going to keep coming for quite a while.
Sen Hammer: All right. And I don’t know, but whoever oversees the disbursement of the tobacco money and how it actually gets– is there a margin in there that if this area came up short, that money could be redirected from within the settlement in order to take care of this particular area, or is that on us as legislators? Or who’s that–?
Gilmore (Health): I think it would come before the legislature. There’s no provision for general revenue to take over this funding effort.
Sen Hammer: Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Gilmore (Health): Yes, sir.
Sen Wallace: And Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized.
Sen Chesterfield: Thank you, sir. I move executive rec.
Sen Wallace: And before we do that, Senator Chesterfield, I’m going to recognize my co-chair, Representative Wooten.
Rep Wooten: I tried to keep up with it as we went through it. It looks like you’re eliminating 70 positions. Is that correct? The major part of that is from the Department of Health.
Adams (Health): 64. Don Adams, Department of Health, Deputy Director. 64 in the Department of Health. And there are some in the boards and commissions. I think there were seven in the medical board, so I think it’s slightly over 70.
Rep Wooten: Okay. Follow-up question. We were told in the budget hearing for you all that 11 positions were going away from the medical board. But it’s 7?
Adams (Health): I believe it is 7. Correct.
Rep Wooten: Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. Senator Chesterfield, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Sen Chesterfield: I move executive rec.
Sen Wallace: I have a motion. Do I have a second? I have a second. Members, all in favor? Any opposed? Thank you. This is approved.
Robinson (BLR): Mr. Chairman, that will cover all of items D1 through D19.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, sir. Moving on to paragraph E, Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Go ahead, Mrs. Browning.
Parks and Tourism
Browning (BLR): Item E is Arkansas Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Item E1 is Arkansas Parks, Heritage, and Tourism shared services. This department has 104 authorized positions and received executive recommendation for continuation of 3 pool positions and 6 out-of-family reclassifications due to the use of those positions during the interim resulting in a total number of 105 positions. Item E2 is Capital Zoning Commission. The agency has 3 positions and received executive recommendation for one title change. No change in the total number of positions for the commission. Item E3 is the Division of Arkansas Heritage. The division has 132 authorized positions. The division did not receive recommendation for a grade change but received executive recommendation for continuation of 2 pool positions resulting in a total of 131 positions. Item E4 is the Division of Parks and Tourism, which also has special language. The division has a total of 733 authorized positions. The division did not receive executive recommendation for 3 grade changes but received executive recommendation for one title change. Executive recommendation did not provide for 2 additional positions. On pages 6 through 7 it shows executive recommendation for continuation of one pool position and 12 out-of-family reclassifications due to the positions used during the interim. But executive recommendation did not recommend 9 reclassifications. All recommended changes resulted in a total of 734 total positions.
Browning (BLR): On page 8 of their report lists the continuation of special language recommended by the executive. The recommendation shows continuation for the utilization of authorized extra help positions and contract labor maxing at 1,800 hours for special events or seasonal events at War Memorial Stadium. And exhibit E5 does not have any changes. And that completes my presentation for Arkansas Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.
Sen Wooten: Any questions concerning that? Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.
Sen Flowers: Thank you. This is for Kay. So will we see these grade request changes–
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: –that are not recommended?
Barnhill (OPM): Right.
Sen Flowers: So if the pay plan that you went over earlier that’s proposed– if it’s passed by the Legislature, will these requests necessarily be filled?
Barnhill (OPM): Hopefully the pay plan will address some of these requests. If they do not, the department will come back to us, and we may be back before you with some different recommendations. But we want to see what the pay plan does first. We figure that addresses the majority of the upgrade requests that we received across state government. There may still be some position reclassifications or additional positions needed that we’ll bring forward to you at a later date.
Sen Flowers: The agency, I would think, is basing their request on what the job description or the duties are. Is that right?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: And so I’m just wondering, how would it not if that pay scale is not– if it is approved, why wouldn’t that agency request be fulfilled if it’s a matter of duties for the grade?
Barnhill (OPM): Right. The agency might still feel it needs a higher grade of position, which when you see reclassification, a lot of times they’re for jobs to go to a higher level. And that is the case– well, that is not the case in all of these at Parks, but that is the case in a lot of them. And if the pay plan does not address it, we still have methods within the uniform class and compact to address those concerns.
Sen Flowers: On page 4, E3 with the archaeologist, they’ve been authorized at GS 08, agency requests 09, and the recommendation is to stay at 08.
Barnhill (OPM): Stay at 08, which we feel like that is one that would probably be addressed by the pay plan because an 09 is only about 10% higher than a grade 08. But we’re recommending a 20% overall to the grade of an 08. So we think that is a request that may be eliminated due to the pay plan.
Sen Flowers: Okay. Thank you.
Rep Wooten: Let me show you, committee members, on the– we’re trying to hold up to reduce the workload relative to any adjustments, changes, reclassification, additions and that type of thing, because if we– if, in your wisdom, we send the new pay plan to the General Assembly for their approval, should it not pass, then they won’t have to go back and redo a lot of work. It will just stay in place as is. And then they could come back to the Personnel Committee and ask for adjustments then. But if we make a bunch of changes now in here and then send it over there and it doesn’t get approved, then we’ll have to go back and undo all that and reevaluate it. I hope that makes sense, but I appreciate your question. Yes. Senator Flowers.
Sen Flowers: So is that why you think the executive did not recommend? That’s what you’re saying.
Rep Wooten: I think and I’m not speaking for the governor’s office, but I think they had two reasons. One is the fact that we’re looking at redoing the pay plan, okay? And I think the second reason is just out of courtesy to the new governor, whoever that might be, can make the budget decisions, Senator.
Sen Flowers: But ultimately, you think if the pay scale recommended is approved by the legislature, most of this will not– we won’t have to work as hard.
Rep Wooten: That’s correct. Yes, ma’am. That’s right.
Sen Flowers: Okay. Thank you.
Rep Wooten: Thank you.
Sen Wallace: Members, seeing no other questions on the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism, I have a motion. Do I have a second? Remember, just as a reminder, this is for all of E, which is E1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. So I have a motion and a second. All in favor? Any opposed? And it is passed. Now, we’re going on to item F or paragraph F, Public Employee Retirement System.
Public Employees Retirement System
Browning (BLR): Exhibit F is the Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System. The agency has 81 authorized positions. Executive recommendation is for the continuation of 4 pool positions and the elimination of 6 positions, resulting in a total number of 71 positions for the agency. And that concludes my recommendation– I mean, my presentation for Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, Mrs. Browning. Members, seeing no comments, do I have– no questions, rather, do I have a motion? I have a motion. Do I have a second? I have a second. Members, all in favor? Any opposed? And paragraph F, Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System has passed. Going to item G, Teacher Retirement System. Go ahead, Mrs. Browning.
Teacher Retirement System
Browning (BLR): Item G is the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. The agency has 87 authorized positions and did not receive executive recommendation for one new classification and one additional position, resulting in no changes to total positions. And that concludes my presentation for ATRS.
Sen Wallace: Members, seeing no questions, do I have a motion? I have a motion. Do I have a second? I have a second. All in favor? Any opposed? Thank you. And thank you, Mrs. Browning for a good job today. And next is Department of Military. General Penn, you look sharp today.
Mercado (BLR): Thank you. Good morning, members. My name is Angelica Mercado, and I am a legislative analyst for personnel. Today, we are going to go first with the Military Department, exhibit H1. They currently have 546 positions. They requested 14 new classifications on page 1, line 10 through 23, but the Executive recommendation does not provide for this request. On page 2, you will see that the agency requested for additional positions on lines 5 through 7. And, again, the Executive did not provide for this request. They received 5 growth pool positions on page 2, line 13 through 17 during the interim, and the Executive recommendation provided for this request. Lastly, the agency requested a reclassification of positions starting on page 2, line 24, and ending on page 9, line 10. The Executive recommendation did not provide for any of these requests, with the exception of an admin specialist, a security officer supervisor, which is found on page 4, line 12 because it is an out-of-family reclassification. The net effect of these changes will increase the number of total authorized positions by 5 from 546 to 551. The agency also has special language that is requested for continuation. It addresses the line item act maximum for the position of adjutant general and deputy adjutant general to be based on the salary grades set out by the US Department of Defense and shall be compensated in accordance with the Department of Defense Advisory Service pay plan. The Executive rec provides for that request. On Exhibit H2, the Department of Military Admin Services Administration and Shared Services have no changes and will remain at one. And that’s all I have for that.
Sen Wallace: Thank you. Members, seeing no questions, do I have a motion? I have a motion. Do I have a second? I have a second. All in favor? Any opposed? Thank you. It has passed.
Mercado (BLR): Moving on to exhibit I, we’re going with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency currently has 303 positions. The Agency is requesting 3 classifications found on lines 10 through 12, and the Executive rec provided for 2 of the 3 classifications. The agency also had 2 positions from the swap pool during the interim, and the Executive recommendation provided for those requests. They are found on line 16 and 17. They also requested 8 reclassifications. However, the Executive recommendation only provided for 3 of those positions that are found on lines 8, 9, and 11 due to them being out-of-family reclasses. The net effect of these changes will keep the total number of authorized positions to 303. Exhibits I2 through I4 will cover the Administration and Shared Services, Disabled Veterans Service Office, and Arkansas Veterans Child Welfare Service, and there are no changes to those. And that concludes my presentation.
Sen Wallace: Thank you. Members, seeing no questions, I have a motion. Do I have a second? I have a second. All in favor? Any opposed? Thank you, ma’am.
Robinson (BLR): Mr. Chairman, before Angelica starts with Department of Transportation, the Department of Transportation wanted us to hand out an informational document for the membership. So as they do that, Angelica can continue with her presentation.
Sen Wallace: Go ahead, ma’am.
Mercado (BLR): So next one is the Arkansas Department of Transportation. I would like to let the members know that the Department of Transportation’s manual is different. One, because they are not in ASIS. And they are a standalone agency, and they produce their own manual. So with that, the Department of Transportation currently has 4,674 authorized positions, and the changes that I present to you will decrease the amount of positions by 116. This is due to structure reorganization within the agency and expanding their pool positions which will allow them to repurpose or eliminate unused positions. I would also like to point out, on page 3 and beyond, that this is going to be what their bill will look like. Turning to the second page, the members will see the historical data of the positions the department has requested throughout the years and how it has changed. In that time period, the department has reduced their authorized positions by 786, and it will include the 116 positions they are decreasing for the upcoming biennium. Some of their changes to their line items include 2 reclassifications that affect 4 positions. They are also requesting 2 upgrades. They also have several changes to their pooled titles. And they have requested 17 upgrades and 6 downgrades that can be found throughout their bill. With all of these changes, the net effect will change their total number of authorized positions from 4,674 to 4,558. And that concludes my presentation.
Sen Wallace: Okay. The chair recognizes my co-chair.
Rep Wooten: I’m sorry. I had to step out. What was the total net? You’re talking about the transportation, ARDOT?
Mercado (BLR): Mm-hmm.
Rep Wooten: Okay. What was the total number of position changes?
Mercado (BLR): They’re decreasing by 116.
Rep Wooten: They gave up 115? Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. And the chair recognizes Senator Hammer.
Sen Hammer: A question for the director when it’s appropriate time, please, for the Highway Department. Mr. Chair, is it allowable to talk about the content of the design behind this as part of the discussion?
Sen Wallace: Go ahead, sir.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. When they introduce themselves, thank you.
Sen Wallace: Ma’am, if you will introduce yourself.
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes. I’m Lorie Tudor, the director of our Arkansas Department of Transportation.
Sen Wallace: Yes, ma’am.
Sen Hammer: Good morning. A couple of questions. First of all, pretty major overhaul. The idea behind the overhaul stimulates from what? Where’d it come from?
Tudor (ARDOT): Really the impetus behind this is– how many of you know Randy Ort, our deputy director, and chief operating officer? He’s been with the department for 35 years, and he’s retiring at the end of the year. So that instigated the thought process as to how are we going to move forward with that position? And that, coupled with the fact in November 2020 the half-cent sales tax became a stable source of revenue, along with just our workforce challenges and distributing the workload more evenly after all the years that we’ve had this structure in place. We’ve had 10 districts in place, and that’s been true since the 1960s. A lot has changed. So in order to– this reorganization, in a nutshell, will just position us to be successful in the future to deliver the program or projects that we have promised to voters and just to retain, recruit and have that succession planning in place. Because we do have quite a few employees that are getting close to retirement.
Sen Hammer: Recently, we hired a consultant, best I remember. Is this driven out of some of those recommendations?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, sir. Several of the recommendations from the efficiency review the department went through in 2019-2020, and we continue to try to implement those recommendations. Several of those will be taken care of through this restructure.
Sen Hammer: And you created a new– am I reading this right? You created a new district out of all of this?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes. Since the 1960s, the demographics of Arkansas has changed quite a bit. Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas become extremely urbanized, while the rest of the state is still very rural, pretty rural. And so in order to better serve the public, we’re shrinking District Four, which is Northwest Arkansas. We’re shrinking District Six, which is Central Arkansas, to provide better services for those heavily populous areas. And then we’re creating a new district, District 11, that will allow us to have great coverage over the entire state.
Sen Hammer: Okay. How long do you anticipate it’s going to take to transition into this, if it’s approved?
Tudor (ARDOT): I think it’ll take between two and three years. It’s going to take us time to get this all in place. Some things we can do immediately. Some things will take time to get it into place, like the new district.
Sen Hammer: And then the last thing, has this been before the Transportation Committee, or is this the first review of this? I haven’t made it to Transportation Committee. Has it made it by them yet?
Tudor (ARDOT): No, sir. Of course, the Highway Commission approved it at their last meeting, and so we’re just moving forward at this point with the biennium and to see if we can get the positions in place. If so, we’ll be presenting this to the Transportation Committees both on the Senate and the House side.
Sen Hammer: Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you. Ms. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.
Sen Flowers: So, Director, or this might be for Ms. Mercado, the 116 positions that are being eliminated, does that kind of balance out what the budget would be in terms of the grade request– the increase in the grade level request?
Tudor (ARDOT): I’m going to have to defer to the agency on that.
Sen Flowers: Could you speak to that? Because it seems like you have a lot of positions in construction and seemingly those on the field. Is that where you’re putting more emphasis? Can you kind of explain how do you try to care for the whole state? I don’t know why bridges is highlighted here on this sheet, bridge operations. What are you seeing that makes you feel comfortable that you’re going to be able to take care of the needs throughout the state, even in the rural parts, Southeast Arkansas, South Arkansas, where you don’t have that much of a population, but you still need the roads to carry the goods to market and other kinds of commercial transactions? So can you speak to that? And are you dividing these employees for these operations up per the districts or where the need is?
Tudor (ARDOT): Okay, well, what I’ll say is the 116 unused positions, appropriated positions that we’re allowing to go back, we’re eliminating those positions from our total positions. They’re just unused. They’re unneeded. We don’t expect to need those in the future.
Sen Flowers: What are they, clerical? What is it? What is it mostly? Is it a general area? I mean, I wouldn’t think you’d be getting rid of people that we see every day trying to work on the roads or the bridges.
Woods (ARDOT): My name is Crystal Woods. I’m the head of human resources at ARDOT. These positions are positions that have been unfilled for many years. We have had a cushion– I wouldn’t say a cushion. We have had additional positions that we– we’ve had career path positions without pooling prior to the last biennium. Last biennium, we pooled some of those career path positions so that we could eliminate the additional appropriated but not budgeted positions. So this biennium, we’re hoping to pool more of our positions and further reduce the number of appropriated but not budgeted positions. For example, we have 4,674 appropriated positions in the current fiscal year. We only intend to fill 3,800 actual bodies. So these reductions in our positions do not result in actual reduction of numbers of employees.
Sen Flowers: You mentioned that term about pool positions. I don’t think I’m understanding pool positions. You got growth pool that Mr. Bassett spoke to. Can you kind of tell me what is it we’re talking about here when we say you got some pool positions?
Woods (ARDOT): Okay. For example, a construction aid is an entry-level construction employee. The next level on that career ladder is a advanced construction aide. The next level on the ladder is a construction inspector, and then a senior inspector. All four of those positions may be held by the same employee over time. So we don’t need four separate positions. We need one in a pool to allow us to promote that employee over time.
Sen Flowers: Oh, is that part of the 116 unfilled positions?
Woods (ARDOT): Yes, ma’am. That’s how we’re able to reduce the unfilled positions, by doing more pooling and creating more of these career ladders.
Sen Flowers: Okay, so you’re not losing any workers?
Woods (ARDOT): No, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Okay. And to the director, with the creation of this new region or district, are you going to be able to satisfy the existing districts? I mean, how do you do that? And you’re not hiring more people?
Tudor (ARDOT): We are going to hire more people so that we have a better coverage across the state. We’re hiring more people within the bounds of the appropriated positions that we already have.
Sen Flowers: You still have some unfilled positions?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Okay. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: Yes, ma’am. And Representative Richmond, you’re recognized, sir.
Rep Richmond: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Director. The reorganization chart that I see here, your present organization, isn’t it kind of like a funnel where all these requirements and things basically funneled up through, I think, the gentleman that’s retiring? And that’s been kind of a choke point, hasn’t it?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, sir.
Rep Richmond: And so this reorganization you have here, this is going to help spread out the workload and also maybe reduce that choke point system you have present?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, sir, it will. That’s exactly what we hope it does. We know it will do that the way we’ve got it restructured.
Rep Richmond: All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. And Senator Irvin, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Sen Irvin: Hi. First, thank you for everything. They have just been helping our little town of Leslie so much. So, so grateful about that. Question just on the organization chart that we have here. I mean, can you just kind of go through the mindset about moving some of the counties out of their existing districts and into different districts? Do you mind just– what was the mindset behind that?
Tudor (ARDOT): Our chief engineer, Rex Vines, he did an analysis of the entire state. He looked at not only at lane miles, he also looked at vehicle miles traveled, the amount of traffic on these different roads across the state. And what he did is he tried to do a better job of evening out the coverage all over the state, and that was what was behind it. Since the 1960s, the demographics of Arkansas has changed quite a bit. And I don’t want to call Northwest Arkansas or Central Arkansas problem children, but they kind of are. They got a lot of attention. And then the rural areas are kind of getting left behind a little bit. So what we did is, you know what, if we could add another district, we could provide better coverage, take care of those really high needs in those urbanized areas, take good care of them but also take care of the rural areas as well. And I think in 60 years, it’s worked pretty good for us, but we’re starting to fall behind. And hopefully, most of you are happy with your response time from the department, but we want to improve that and do a better job of taking care of the system.
Sen Irvin: Yeah. Well, and I can just speak to my folks in Stone county. I mean, they do a fabulous job, and I think it’s probably just on comfort level. They’ve been with the Batesville district, and they love them, and so they were a little worried about moving. But I think, too, one of the things that we deal with, obviously, up where we live is inclement weather, probably more so sometimes than the rest of the state. So I know sometimes that causes equipment shifts and needs and salt trucks and all those kinds of things, and so I just didn’t know if that also played into kind of the way it was organized or not.
Tudor (ARDOT): It does. It really does. I mean, the maintenance needs across the state, especially up in the northern part of the state during inclement weather, we have worked hard to do better at responding there. And we want to get better and better, and you’re right. So you are district 5. Which county is it? Stone?
Sen Irvin: Yes, Stone. I mean, I don’t know why– you have a current district headquarters, and to me, they’re not checking in with them every day or anything like that. I’m not quite sure I understand why it’s an issue. But to me, I know that those northern counties do get hit with a lot of snow and ice, more so probably than some areas. So I know that they’re just kind of– they do a fabulous job, but they’re always scrambling and out at 2 a.m. if they have to be, which I’m super grateful for. I was just asking. No problem. Thank you.
Tudor (ARDOT): Thank you.
Sen Wallace: And the chair recognizes my co-chair, Representative Wooten.
Rep Wooten: Director Tudor, did you state that it’s been for 62 years since you had any substantial reorganization out there?
Tudor (ARDOT): It has to this extent. Not in the districts. The districts have been the same since 1960s. But the structure that you’re seeing for the central offices, there’s been changes, but not to this extent. This is pretty radical compared to where we’ve been in the past.
Rep Wooten: The other question I’ve got, as a result of this, will you be able to provide greater assistance to cities and counties as they desire to work with the agency?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, sir. That’s one thing that’s changed quite a bit over the years is the amount of money that funnels through ARDOT to our local partners, to our cities and our counties. And so in order to do a better job of helping them navigate through the Federal Highway Administration rules and regulations and just provide a better service for them, we’re creating a new division that’s just focused on our local agency programs so that we do become more efficient in taking care of their needs.
Rep Wooten: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sen Wallace: Senator Hammer, you’re recognized, sir.
Sen Hammer: Thank you. Two questions. One, the bottom line for the dollar cost for this restructuring is what?
Tudor (ARDOT): To add the additional employees we need for this restructuring is about 95 additional employees using unused positions. But that cost will be more than offset by our reduction or redirection of funding we’re currently using for consultants. When the half-cent sales tax– the temporary half-cent sales tax passed in 2012, we promised voters a program of major projects. But because it was temporary, we decided to use consultants to help us deliver those projects instead of staffing up. In 2020, when we took the work– we took temporary off of that half-cent sales tax and now it’s a stable source of revenue, we feel like we need to staff up in order to deliver those projects and reduce our dependence on consultants. And looking at our numbers just for program management and for construction inspection, we’re going to be able to, once this is fully implemented, offset that $6 million cost by about a reduction or a redirection of funding we’re using currently for consultants of around $10 million. So this should result in a savings for the state, and it’ll bring us back into better balance of what state government is meant to do is to provide services and also use consultants as we need them. That’s part of the economy. I understand that. But we’ve got a little lopsided over the years because of that ‘temporary’ in front of that revenue. And now that it’s gone, we can pull a little bit of that work back into the department and get a better bang for your buck, if you will, for the citizens of the state and provide a better service.
Sen Hammer: Okay, so $6 million estimated cost, but your consulting savings, you project to be, I’m gonna say $6 to $10 million. So this basically going to be revenue neutral then once you get it all up and implemented, which you understand, that’s going to be a two to three-year period for all to shake out?
Tudor (ARDOT): That’s right. That’s correct.
Sen Hammer: Okay. Any additional costs that you anticipate that’s built into your budget for the transitional process of dropping off consultants, adding employees, making the salary adjustments, or do you got all that factored into your budget?
Tudor (ARDOT): Well, our current operating budget– if this is approved, if we’re given approval to move forward, our next operating budget will take everything into account in increments. Of course, we’ll do it as we’re able to get it into place. Was that your question?
Sen Hammer: It was. So I just want to know if there’s any unforeseen cost in the transitional period because you testified two to three years to get it done. I envision dropping off consultants while you shift that workload in-house. And I just want to make sure that your budget has all of those moving parts calculated into it so you don’t come back with any surprises.
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, sir. We’ll be sure we continue to offer services and do what we need to do and make sure our budget allows us to do it until we get this fully implemented.
Sen Hammer: Okay. And all of this is driven on the recommendations of the consultant we hired to review the efficiency processes of the department, correct?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes. That’s a great use of that efficiency review as it opened our eyes to a couple of things and this will take care of it.
Sen Hammer: Good deal. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: And members, I’m going to take two more questions. I’m trying to move us along. We’ve got another group will be coming behind this. We got Senator Chesterfield and Senator Flowers in the queue. Senator Chesterfield?
Sen Chesterfield: Yes, I will yield to Senator Flowers because I was going to move the ARDOT salary request for 2024-2025 biennium.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, ma’am. And Senator Flowers, you’re recognized.
Sen Flowers: I just want to get an idea of how many consulting contracts do you have now?
Tudor (ARDOT): I don’t have that number. I can get it for you. I don’t have that number in front of me right now.
Sen Flowers: I’d like to know that and the end date.
Tudor (ARDOT): Okay, well, I can get you that information. We have a lot of consultant contracts underway right now with different end dates, but I can get that for you.
Sen Flowers: As an agency, are you all allowed to just have multi-year contracts for consulting companies?
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes, ma’am, we are.
Sen Flowers: Are you subject to any limitation on the term, the number of years?
Tudor (ARDOT): No. We are under the control of the Highway Commission and we do minute orders asking for approval to go into these contracts. And they know the amount of years. Normally, we negotiate that contract and it’s for a certain– like our on-call consultants are for maybe two to three years that we can go in and we can use them when we need to. And then we have to come back and get commission approval to extend those contracts.
Sen Flowers: Are those the type of consultant contracts you’re talking about when you answered Senator Hammer?
Sen Chesterfield: That was a contract– that report was created by the Highway Subcommittee. And that’s what we have been looking at. A lot of those recommendations came from there.
Tudor (ARDOT): I’m sorry, I’m on a different subject from what you’re asking.
Sen Flowers: I’m just trying to understand that $6 million savings or wash. Is that just one contract?
Tudor (ARDOT): No, ma’am. I don’t know, it’s probably 10 contracts that I’m looking at, maybe 20. I can get that for you.
Sen Flowers: Yeah, I’d like to know the terms of those contracts, at least in terms of the time. How many years.
Tudor (ARDOT): They’re usually project-specific. So for construction, engineering, and inspection, they will be on board to do that service for the department until the project is complete. So some of our projects go from two or three years if they’re under construction that long. And that consultant firm that is inspecting that work will be on board for that amount of time.
Sen Flowers: Well, you’re going to always have a need for consulting contracts when you’re talking about projects. So I’m just trying to understand what consulting contracts are you getting rid of at the amount of $6 million? I mean, that must be something specific.
Tudor (ARDOT): Yes. Okay. In 2012, when the temporary half-cent sales tax passed and we had that group of 31 projects that we needed to get ready, do project development, and let the contract and inspect that work, in order for us to deliver that program, we brought on a program manager. One of our consultants came on as a program manager to deliver those projects, to administer oversight of the consultants that were designing the projects, and then to do oversight of the consultants that were inspecting the projects. That contract alone, which is going to expire in the next year because that temporary program is complete, that right there was $6 million a year. And we’re going to be able to take that in-house and do that ourselves, that one contract. Then all of the construction inspection consultants that we’re using, those we’re going to probably be able to cut those in half or more because of the additional district and having additional employees out in the field to inspect our construction projects. So that’s where the $10 million came from. Does that answer your question?
Sen Flowers: Thank you.
Tudor (ARDOT): You’re welcome.
Sen Wallace: And Senator Chesterfield, did you have a–
Sen Chesterfield: Yes, I do. I move the salary request for the 2024-25 biennium for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
Sen Wallace: I have a motion and a second. All in favor? Any opposed? Ma’am, thank you. Appreciate y’all. Members, we will move on to Public Service Commission.
Public Service Commission
Mercado (BLR): Thank you, Mr. Chair. The Public Service Commission currently has 114 positions. The agency is requesting 5 new classifications found on lines 10 to 14, and the Executive recommendation provided for 3 of these classification, lines 12 through 14. The agency requested 2 grade changes that the Executive rec did not provide for the Agency’s request. They had also asked for additional positions, starting on page 1, line 25, through page 2, line 15, for a total of 13 positions. But the exec rec did not provide for the agency’s request. The agency received 4 positions from the swap pool during the interim, and the Executive recommendation provided for those requests, which is found on page 2, line 21 through 24. The agency also requested 2 reclassifications on page 3, line 6 and 7. However, the Executive recommendation did not provide for those requests. The net effect of these changes will increase the number of total authorized positions by one to 115. And that concludes my presentation.
Sen Wallace: Members, seeing no questions, do I have a motion? And I have a second. Excuse me. All in favor? Any opposed? And thank you. That has passed.
Mercado (BLR): Exhibit L is the Arkansas Ethics Commission. They currently have 11 authorized positions and they are not requesting any positions. They are requesting one reclassification on line 10. However, the exec rec does not provide for the agency’s request. The authorized positions will stay at 11. And that concludes my presentation.
Sen Wallace: I have a motion and a second. Members, all in favor? Any opposed? Thank you, ma’am. Go ahead.
Mercado (BLR): Okay. Last one is the Arkansas Claims Commission. They currently have 10 authorized positions. They received an Attorney Specialist position on line 9 through the swap pool during the interim. They are requesting 3 reclassifications. However, the exec rec does not provide for the agency’s request. The net effect of these changes will not change the number of authorized positions and it will remain at 10. And that concludes my presentation.
Sen Wallace: Thank you. I have a motion. I have a second. All in favor? Any opposed? It is accepted. Go ahead, ma’am. Mr. Angel. There you are. And if you will introduce yourself, Bart?
Finance and Administration
Angel (BLR): Yes, sir. Thank you. Bart Angel, BLR. Item N is going to be Department of Finance Administration, and N1 is the Administration and Shared Services Division. They are currently authorized 105 positions. They’re requesting a grade increase. You will see it on your report on line 8. The executive recommendation does not provide for this. They’re requesting to make permanent one swap pool position. That was granted in the interim. It’s going to be on line 13 of your report. The executive recommendation does provide for this. There are three out-of-family reclasses and you’ll see these on lines 20, 21, and 22 on the bottom of the first page of your report. The executive recommendation does provide for these, and it brings the division to 103 positions as a decrease of 2 due to the swaps. N2 is the DFA Assessment Coordination Division. They’re currently authorized 32 positions. They request to upgrade a title from GS10 to GS12 as the ACD deputy director. If you look on the third page in this section, it’s going to be on line 8. This is not recommended by the executive. The division wishes to add 2 pool positions, an ACD division administrator at GS08, and a property assessment coordinator manager at GS07. Those are going to be on lines 13 and 14 on the report. And the executive rec does provide for these.
Angel (BLR): If you look on lines 21 and 22 of page 3, there’s a requested reclass and an out-of-family reclass. The requested one is the tax auditor supervisor, and the out-of-family is the ACD division administrator. The executive rec provides for the out-of-family reclass only. The division also requests the transfer of two positions with the Revenue Services. One is going in and one is going out of the Assessment Coordination Division. These are on lines 5 and 6. And it’s going to be on page 4. The executive rec does provide for these. The net of these changes is a request of 33 positions. That’s an increase of 1.
Angel (BLR): N3 is Management Services. They’re currently authorized 236 positions. They’re requesting one upgrade. You’ll see that on line 8 on page 5. The executive recommendation does not provide for this. They’re requesting four title changes. You’ll see these on lines 13 through 16. The executive recommendation does provide for these. They’re requesting one new position that’s going to be on line 21. It’s a grants analyst at GS06. The executive recommendation does not provide for this request. On page 6 the division has 6 swap pool positions. You’re going to see those on lines 5 through 11. Now, if you look at line 9, to the right there’s a couple of cells that are blank. That position is to be transferred out to Revenue Services, so it has no request or no recommendation there. The executive recommendation does provide for these pool positions. Management Services wishes to eliminate 4 vacant positions. If you look on page 6, you’ll see these on lines 17 through 20. There are 3 DFA ERP analysts and 1 help desk specialist. The executive rec provides for these. At the very bottom of the same page, at line 26, the reclasses start and they run to line 12 of page 7. There are 4 requested by the division and 4 out-of-family. The executive rec provides for the out-of-families only. And the last section of the report starts on page 7, line 17, and goes all the way to the end of this in 3. These are position transfers. There’s 9 of them. They’re all leaving the division, with 4 going to Revenue Services and 5 to DTSS, The executive rec provides for these. And the net of these changes is a request of 224 positions and a recommendation of 223. That’s a decrease of 12 and 13 positions respectively.
Sen Wallace: We’re still going. Go ahead, sir. No, ma’am.
Angel (BLR): N4 is the ABC, Alcohol Beverage Control Division. They’re currently authorized 12 positions. They’re requesting 2 new positions. Those are going to be on lines 8 and 9 of your reports, ninth page. These are requested, but they’re not recommended. The division wishes to reclass 8 positions. These are on page 9. And they go from line 16 to 23. And these reclasses are not recommended. These changes bring the division to 14 positions. That’s an increase of 2. The executive recommendation is to maintain the 12 positions.
Angel (BLR): N5 is the next division, DFA’s Revenue Services. They’re currently authorized 1,566 positions. If you look on lines 9, 10, and 11 on page 11, you’ll see the division wishes to create 3 new titles. The executive rec does not provide for these. They would also like to upgrade 10 titles. You’ll see those on lines 16 through 25 on page 11. The executive rec doesn’t provide for these either. The division has 61 pool positions. And they start on page 12, line 5, and they go to the end of page 14. Now, 52 of these are DFA service reps at GS03. They were obtained in an even swap back in April of this year. The rest are also swaps, but there’s one that’s just a regular straight growth pool, is the tax appeal staff attorney on line 7. The executive rec provides for this request. The division wishes to eliminate one vacant position of fiscal support tech at GS04. It’s on page 15, line 5. The executive rec provides for this. And starting on line 11 of page 15, there are 460 requested reclasses. These go to line 7 of page 38. There are 20 out-of-family reclasses in this section two. You’ll see those. The majority of the requested reclasses are to one of the new titles that was requested earlier, the DFA SRO, service rep, at GS05. The executive recommendation provides for the out-of-family reclasses only.
Angel (BLR): The last section of the report is on page 38, lines 12 through 17. And these are position transfers. There are 5 coming into the division and 1 going out to Assessment Coordination. These changes would bring the requests to 1,574 positions. That’s an increase of 8. And there are three pieces of special language, Mr. Chairman. Section 40 is continuing language and exempts extra help at the Revenue Division from the limitation of hours and requires a report to Legislative Council or Joint Budget if part time or extra help stays on long term, which in this case is seven months or longer. The executive recommendation provides for the request for this piece of special language.
Angel (BLR): The next piece is section 41. It’s also continuing language that allows the Revenue Division to employ up to five certified law enforcement officers. The executive rec provides for the agency request for this piece of special language. And the last is section 42. And this is language the DFA wishes to delete. And it deals with contingent positions at the division of Revenue Services. The executive rec provides for the agency request for special language in this case as well.
Angel (BLR): Item N6 is the Regulatory Division. Currently authorized 15 positions. They request to eliminate 1. You’ll see that on line 8. That position is vacant. The executive recommendation provides for this action. The division request to reclass a DFA dog racing vet to a Racing Commission vet at MPO4. The rate wouldn’t change in this case. You’ll see that on line 14. But this isn’t recommended by the executive rec. It brings the division to 14 positions, a decrease of the 1 that’s being eliminated. And the executive rec is also for the 14. There’s a piece of special language, Mr. Chairman. It’s section 22. It’s continuing language. This piece of language allows the Racing Division 31 extra help positions per fiscal year with no 1,000-hour limit on hours worked. The executive rec provides for the agency request for this piece of special language.
Angel (BLR): And item N7 is the Office of Child Support Enforcement. They’re currently authorized 781 positions. They’re requesting two new titles. These are on page 46 at lines 9 and 10. The executive rec does not provide for this. They’re also requesting to upgrade three titles. You’ll see those on lines 15, 16, and 17 on the same page. The executive rec does not provide for these. There are five pool positions. The division is requesting all DFA service reps at GS03. You start on line 22 of page 46 and go to line 5 on the following page. And these are recommended on the executive rec. OCSE wishes to eliminate 6 positions. These are on page 47 of your report, lines 11 through 16. All of these are vacant, and the executive rec provides for these. Division requests 31 reclasses. These start on line 22, page 47, and they go to the end of this section of the report. There are also 5 out-of-families in this section, which are lines 12 through 16 on page 48. And the executive rec is for the out-of-family reclasses only. The net of these changes is a request of 775 positions. That’s a decrease of the 6 that they wish to surrender. And there’s a piece of special language, Mr. Chairman. Section four is continuing language and exempts limits on the division’s extra help hours. It requires a report to Legislative Council or Joint Budget if extra help or part-time personnel are employed for an extended period. Again, seven months or more. The executive rec for special language provides for the agency request. And Mr. Chairman, that’s all I have for DFA.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, sir. And Senator Hammer, sir, you’re recognized.
Sen Hammer: Thank you, Mr. Chair. On the Administration and Shared Services, what did you say about executive rec on that? That they did or didn’t?
Angel (BLR): They did not recommend the grade increase, but they did recommend the– to make permanent the swap pool and the three out-of-family reclasses.
Sen Hammer: Okay. And then do you know the– on the last one, the extra help exemption, was that put in place because of the COVID time frame? Or is this just special language that lives on forever?
Angel (BLR): It’s going to be the latter. I’ve been doing DFA for quite a while, and I do this every time we do this, so.
Sen Hammer: Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Sen Wallace: Senator Flowers, you’re recognized, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Just a quick question on the dog racing veterinarian, the reclassification. Do we still have dog races here in West Memphis? What?
Angel (BLR): I think until December, but–
Sen Flowers: What? I can’t hear you.
Angel (BLR): Until December.
Sen Flowers: Until December and eliminated after that?
McVay (DFA): Alan McVay, DFA. That’s correct, Senator Flowers. Live racing at Southland will end on December 31.
Sen Flowers: I think that’s across the country, isn’t it?
McVay (DFA): I’m not sure if it’s totally across the country, but it certainly is for Arkansas.
Sen Flowers: And so the veterinarian will be just for the horses, I suppose, and the cats that chase them or whatever?
McVay (DFA): Yes, ma’am. We will continue to employ veterinarians for Oaklawn Racing, the live racing in Hot Springs.
Sen Flowers: Okay. Thank you. And I’m just wondering, that wasn’t even approved by the executive branch? I would think that’d be kind of simple.
Barnhill (OPM): It was caught up, Senator Flowers, in the blanket disapproval. We’ve got a way to do that. When the dog racing season ends, we can change it to horse racing at that particular point in time.
Sen Flowers: Are the two connected? I mean, if you already have a position called dog race veterinarian, I guess it’d be for the horse, too. So I guess not. I’m sure you got a veterinarian for the horses, so why would you need to change this title?
McVay (DFA): Senator Flowers, we do have veterinarians for horse racing. Some of those we hire on a temporary basis, just for the racing season. The position that is at Southland will go away. But that veterinarian that’s employed there has been– we’ve approached the veterinarian about if they wanted to move to Hot Springs. If they want to continue employment with the state, we would very much encourage them to seek that opportunity.
Sen Flowers: Okay. So it’s just for one person?
McVay (DFA): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Thank you.
Sen Wallace: Members, seeing no other questions– Senator Chesterfield, we are now there. I have a motion. I have a second. All in favor? Any opposed? Thank you. That is accepted. And you may continue, sir.
Angel (BLR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Item O is the disability determination for the social security administration or DDSSA. They’re currently authorized 591 positions. They request to add the 4 growth pool assistant director positions that they were granted back in April, want to make those permanent. You’ll see that on your Personnel Committee report. Those would be on lines 9 through 12. Those are granted to supervise the employees and the growing number of cases that they get from other states. These are, of course, federal funds. And those 4 positions bring DDSSA’s requests to 595 positions. Again, the increase of those 4 growth pool. Special language, there is a piece. It’s section 5. It’s continuing language that allows DDSSA to add up to 250 positions over the fiscal year as needed. That’s after OPM approval and ALC or JVC review. These are subject to federal need or requirement and are federally funded. And the executive recommendation provides for the agency request for this special language. And Mr. Chairman, that’s all I have for DDSSA.
Sen Wallace: Members, I see no questions. I have a motion. Do I have a second? Second. I hear a second. All in favor? Any opposed? Thank you. It is accepted. Okay.
Public Defender Commission
Angel (BLR): ROBINSON–Mr. Chairman, the next item, Public Defender Commission, we have a handout. This is a revised executive recommendation on the special language. So when Mr. Angel goes through it, he’ll speak to the revised language. And the language is in a letter from Ms. Barnhill.
Sen Wallace: You can go ahead, sir.
Angel (BLR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Item P is the Public Defender Commission. They’re currently authorized 286 positions. They’re requesting a new title. If you look on the report, you’ll see it on line 10. They’d like to reclass 35 positions to this new title. And you’ll see these further down the report here in just a few minutes. The executive recommendation provides for this new title. The commission wishes to upgrade 4 titles. These are on lines 15 through 18 on the first page. Executive rec does not provide for these. Public Defender receives 3 growth pool positions in the interim. You’ll see those on page 1. They’re on lines 23 and 24. And then on the next page, they finish up on line 5. There are 59 reclasses that start on page 2. That’s on line 12, and they go to the end of the report. 35 of these are the public defender 3’s to the aforementioned new title, senior public defender. And 21 are reclasses to the requested upgraded title public defender investigator. The executive rec does not provide for these reclasses. And the net effect of these changes is a request of 289 positions. That’s an increase of the 3 growth pool. And there are two pieces of special language, Mr. Chairman. The first is section 14. It’s continuing language. It exempts extra help positions from limited hours worked per year. It also allows persons working part time to be utilized as extra help within the agency. The language also caps total compensation for personnel working part time and as extra help. The executive rec is the agency request for special language. The next piece is new language. And this is what was just passed out. It’s revised language that went out, again, just a moment ago. It allows the public defender to pay up to grades’ maximum salary for positions as determined by the Public Defender Commission. Now, this only applies to seven specific titles only and requires reporting to ALC-JVC and OPM approval. The executive rec provides for the agency request for this special language. And Mr. Chairman, that’s all I have for Public Defender.
Sen Wallace: Thank you, sir. Senator Hammer, you are recognized, sir.
Sen Hammer: Can I get Greg to the table, please, Mr. Chair?
Parrish (Defender): Greg Parrish, Arkansas Public Defender Commission.
Sen Hammer: Afternoon. It’s always an ongoing discussion about you having enough defenders to do what you’ve got to do. And it comes up every time we meet. So can you tell me right now, how many are you down?
Parrish (Defender): Right now, we’re down approximately eight attorneys that we’re trying to fill. That does not include the attorneys from the ARP funds we just received. But those are the ones that we have right now that are vacant.
Sen Hammer: Okay. So what you’re asking for today, how does it meet the needs of filling those eight? And does that put you what you feel would be fully staffed to be able to meet the needs that are on you?
Parrish (Defender): What I’m asking for today is a retention, because what we did is we looked at the attorneys that we have. And to break it down, we looked at the attorneys with 15 to 18 years state employment, and they’re at a GS13. And they’re maxed. They’ve got nowhere to go. And those are some of the attorneys that I’m losing to other agencies, namely the Prosecutor’s Office, because they have the experience to just basically walk in the door at the Prosecutor’s Office and pick up a file and try a case.
Sen Hammer: All right. And I may be misinterpreting this, so straighten me out. It seems like we might be, or am I misinterpreting that we’re giving you a lot of flexibility that has never been done before with this? Or can you address that thought?
Parrish (Defender): It’s limited flexibility. I make a recommendation, but I will still have to have the approval of OPM to do this, based on the special language that’s just been handed out.
Sen Hammer: All right. And if I remember right, Kay, that all ends up before us, even though you approve it, right?
Barnhill (OPM): Right. We report it to y’all.
Sen Hammer: After the fact or before?
Barnhill (OPM): After the fact.
Sen Hammer: Okay. So it’ll be retroactive. Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: And Senator Stubblefield, you’re recognized, sir.
Sen Stubblefield: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Kay, this a little off topic, but do you have any idea how much the Department of Transformation and Shared Services has saved the state since it was implemented?
Barnhill (OPM): No, sir. But we have someone tracking this number, so I can get that to you.
Sen Stubblefield: I would like to see that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sen Wallace: Yes, sir. And Senator Flowers, you are recognized, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: I guess this is more for the Chair. This special language request, are we voting on it today, or– we are? So if the motion is just to approve the executive recommendation, that would not be included. We’d have to have a motion to send this proposal or request to special language, would we not?
Angel (BLR): No, ma’am. So Personnel Committee hears special language that is specific to personnel. With this being specific to personnel, I guess the motion would be to adopt the executive recommendation along with the revised executive recommendation for the special language. And that way it would be adopted and it would go into their bill in the format that is written in the letter. That’s how the bill would be drafted.
Sen Flowers: Is this being recommended by the executive branch? I don’t see–
Angel (BLR): Yes, ma’am. That letter is from Kay Barnhill for the executive branch.
Sen Flowers: Okay. I see.
Angel (BLR): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: So then I have a question for Mr. Parrish. You want the reclassifications– or the classifications public defender 3 authorized to be paid up to the maximum salary. And in the request for reclassification, you listed all these public defender 3s. You want them to be at GS13. So, I mean, here– I don’t know where G012N is. I mean, maybe you can explain this. I’m confused about this. He has on the special language request public defender 3, you paid up to maximum salary G012N. Where do I see that on your chart, even?
Barnhill (OPM): Senator Flowers, here’s what currently exists to Public Defender Commission. All the public defenders are authorized as public defender 3, G012N. What Mr. Parrish does is when he hires and brings a new public defender according to need, he downgrades those positions sometimes to a public defender 1 or a public defender 2, based on the experience and expertise that the applicant brings with them. So what he has right now are grade 13 public defender positions. And he uses them sometimes as a 12, sometimes as 11, and even down to 10 in some cases. It’s kind of similar to the concept they were just talking about at Transportation Department.
Sen Flowers: Okay. So you’re saying that, to the chair, this can go to– this will go to special language, or we are adopting it as special language as the executive branch has requested?
Angel (BLR): Yes, ma’am. If you adopt this special language, it is adopted by the Personnel Committee. It does not need to go to the special language subcommittee. If adopted and approved by ALC-JVC in our report to ALC-JVC, once the bill is drafted, the bill would be drafted with this language that was written in this letter by Ms. Barnhill. This language would go through into that bill without the need to go to– without the need to go to special language. Excuse me.
Sen Flowers: I’d ask co-chair Wooten then. I guess the governor’s already made his decision on this particular agency in terms of their request, at least some of the positions.
Sen Wallace: Senator–
Rep Wooten: I’m sorry?
Sen Flowers: I’m just trying to understand how this all works. If you have a response to it–
Barnhill (OPM): Okay, Senator Flowers–
Rep Wooten: This is a whole different deal here. What the executive branch has said they will do is not reclassify positions. But this is a special need here that we’re attempting to address with Mr. Parrish.
Sen Flowers: And give him more money.
Rep Wooten: So it’s an exception, I guess, is what we need to say. We’re making an exception to the decision that has been made to reclassify positions and move them around until the new governor comes in. But this is an issue of retention and recruitment of vital people in the Office of Public Defenders. Let me ask them two questions. One, what’s the average increase going to be, do you know off hand?
Barnhill (OPM): By the public defenders?
Rep Wooten: For these positions. I mean, what will the average increase–?
Barnhill (OPM): Okay, let me clarify a little bit of what we’re doing here. What we’re doing here now, we have not recommended all the reclassifications that Mr. Parrish requested, although I anticipate we may come back with those recommendations in the spring. What we have recommended is a special language that allows Mr. Parrish to pay all the way up to the maximum pay level for any of his attorneys. The reason we have recommended that is because the prosecutors currently have that language. And so we’re trying to create equity between the prosecutors and the public defenders because he’s losing people from the public defender’s office to the prosecutor’s office, because they can give them more money because they have maximum authority. So what we’re trying to address here is truly the maximum authority issue. I think we’ll probably come back later in the spring with both prosecutors and public defenders trying to make sure we have all the grades worked out to your satisfaction.
Rep Wooten: So we’re attempting to achieve equity between the prosecuting attorneys and the public offenders.
Sen Flowers: Well, may I ask one other question concerning this?
Sen Wallace: Yes.
Sen Flowers: Are most of the public defenders– and these are the actual grades now?
Barnhill (OPM): Current grades. Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: These are the current grades?
Barnhill (OPM): Yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: And most of them are not at the maximum for that current grade?
Barnhill (OPM): A good bit of them are not at the maximum of their current grade at this point in time.
Sen Flowers: Are all these full-time attorneys?
Barnhill (OPM): Both. They’re full time and part time, depending on where they’re assigned.
Sen Flowers: So even for the part time, they would get the maximum salary as a full time?
Parrish (Defender): At half the rate, senator. All of our positions are legislatively appropriated as full time. But to cover the areas that we have to cover, we will take a full-time position and convert it into two part-time positions. So if I’ve got two people, they’re filling one full-time position, but they would only accrue at one half of that.
Sen Flowers: Are they eligible for benefits, too?
Parrish (Defender): As long as they’re at 20 hours a week, yes, ma’am.
Sen Flowers: Okay. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: One second. Go ahead.
Rep Wooten: What’s the case load, Mr. Parish, for an individual attorney, average?
Parrish (Defender): Here in Little Rock alone–
Rep Wooten: Statewide.
Parrish (Defender): 300 to 400 here in Little Rock. Statewide, 250 to 400. And then once you start factoring in the travel– I mean, you come from a six-county district. Where I came from, I was carrying 300 cases myself, easy. And that was 10 years ago.
Rep Wooten: Okay. Thank you.
Sen Wallace: And members, I am ready for a recommendation– or rather, a motion. And we have to say it specifically– Tony, if you’ll address that.
Angel (BLR): If you want to adopt this special language, the revised special language needs to be motion for executive recommendation, including the revised special language.
Sen Wallace: Okay. I have a second. All in favor, say aye. Any opposed? It is accepted. And sir, you may continue.
Angel (BLR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Item Q is the Board of Election Commissioners. They’re currently authorized 10 positions and wish to make no changes. That’s all I have, Mr. Chairman.
Sen Wallace: I have a motion. I have a second. All in favor say aye. Any opposed? That is accepted.
Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission
Angel (BLR): Mr. Chairman, Item R is the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. They’re currently authorized six positions, and they, too, have no changes.
Sen Wallace: I have a motion. I have a second. All in favor? Anybody opposed? That is accepted. Members, we are at other business. Does anybody have any other business? Seeing none, members, we are adjourned. Thank you.