BUDDY NIDEY – On Tuesday, 19th June, a Senate panel approved advanced spending legislation to provide federal civilian employees with a 1.9 percent pay increase in 2019 which will be applied across-the-board. This is in sharp contradiction with the white house’s request for a pay freeze over 2019. The raise is put into the fiscal 2019 Financial services and general government appropriations bill, which also backs other causes such as increasing revenue for the IRS, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other agencies. At the subcommittee level, the bill was unanimously approved.
Earlier this May, President Trump made the 2019 fiscal budget proposal where he indicated the institution of a pay freeze for all federal civilian employees. A pay freeze constitutes a barring of employees from getting any pay raise over a fiscal year. The subcommittee has made the first push against the pay freeze. However, the House Appropriations Committee did not include any articulations or provisions on federal employee pay in its general government spending bill, thus effectively endorsing Trump’s proposition. The administration also sent the Congress to slash retirement program plans by 143.5 billion over the period of the next ten years last May. No known notable progress has been made on that proposition as well.
The Senate subcommittee’s proposed pay raise was welcome with vocal support from various federal employee groups. “This is welcome news for the men and women of the civil service who secure our nation, safeguard our economy and protect the public health,” said Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. “At a time when private sector salaries are increasing, and military personnel are on track for an earned pay increase, we applaud Congress for recognizing that government employees also deserve a pay raise.” Meanwhile, the president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Richard Thissen called this proposed pay raise “much deserved.”
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The subcommittee’s proposed pay raise for 1.9 percent is however not up to the mark of the White House’s proposed 2.4 percent raise for military members. Members of Congress have traditionally advocated closing the gap in pay parity between civilians and military personnel, but they are yet to be successful in their pursuit. Notable, though, is the fact that some members of the Congress have signed on to a bill earlier this year which would constitute a 3% across-the-board pay raise for civilian federal employees.
Various senators and Senate panels were already in discontent with the White House’s proposed pay freeze for federal civilian employees while siding with raise for military personnel. In January, Sen. Claire McCaskill asked in a letter directed to the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to “Please explain OMB’s rationale for proposing a pay freeze for all federal employees, including law enforcement officers.” The senator then went on to ask about a series of personnel issues at the Department of Homeland Security, such as why the department was pushed by the OMB to hire 1,000 more ICE agents than it had requested and cut its Customs and Border Protection field budget by $88 Million. The senator asked for mathematical and logical explanations which the white house has used to reach those decisions and how they are for the nation’s best interests.
At a civil service forum held this May, the Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff T.H. Pon and the OMB deputy director Margaret Weichart championed plans to freeze pay and cut out retirement benefits for active and retired civilian federal employees. They talked about the need to attract “the bright” and “The talented”; however, failed to acknowledge that a pay freeze might do just the opposite. In fact, Weichart’s superior at OMB, director Mick Mulvaney, advocated for the pay freeze even after acknowledging the fact that highly educated federal employees are underpaid compared to their counterparts who work at private corporations or companies.
For now, although the administration sometimes, is mindlessly trying to defend its proposed pay freeze, the Senate does not seem to be having any of it which remains to be favorable news for all federal civilian employees.
As Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of the College of Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado, Buddy Nidey applies his strong analytical background to his work as an investment advisor representative. He enjoys coordinating clients’ investment portfolios with solid financial planning that takes income taxes, diversification and safety into consideration. Contact Buddy Nidey today for more information.