For the Federal Employees there is good, bad, and even worse news. In her June 11, 2012 article “Analysis: More Cuts on the Way,” for the government’s news daily Government Executive, Kellie Lunney reported some important information regarding the changes in the Federal Budget.
First some good news, the members of Congress quickly shot down attempt to enact yet another pay freeze on the Federal Workforce. At a time when workers pay (after adjusting for inflation) is lower that it was in 1990. Killing this pay freeze idea was a good move. However our happiness was short-lived.
New pay freeze proposals have emerged. [Marc] Goldwein says federal workers are much better off if lawmakers can craft a big deficit reduction deal, as opposed to enacting incremental changes that repeatedly hack away at feds’ pay and benefits, keeping them in a chronic state of unrest.
We need for our legislators to start finding ways to balance the budget that does not include taking more from the already strained Federal Workers. Pay freezes, debt ceiling cuts, and employment insurance the US Congress have taken $105 Billion dollars away from federal workers over a ten-year span.
One way or another, we are going to enact some reforms to the [federal] retirement system,” says Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the bipartisan, nonprofit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
When ever the Government begins to talk about changes to the retirement systems people begin to worry. Too many times have we seen the private sector and even more recently public sector employees lose their entire retirement with changes to legislation. Some have seen their pension changed to a 401K while others lost everything. Here are a couple of the changes that have already passed or are still being proposed.
Obama has recommended increasing the amount all feds contribute to their pensions as part of overall deficit reduction, as have several lawmakers; in February, Congress approved legislation requiring new employees hired after Dec. 31, 2012, and returning feds with less than five years of service to contribute more to their defined benefit plans. And in May, the House passed a bill requiring current feds to pay more toward their pensions.
Other proposals floating around in the name of reducing spending include a high-five average salary calculation for annuities for new hires rather than the current high-three average pay calculation and the elimination of the Federal Employees Retirement System minimum supplement for individuals not subject to mandatory retirement starting in 2013. One bright spot for employees: Initial efforts to extend the federal pay freeze were shot down in Congress.
The part that seems to be lost on many people is that if you mandate that people pay more for their retirement benefits without giving them a pay raise you are essentially cutting their pay. For many people in the Federal Government the security of a Federal Retirement is one of the largest benefits to taking the job. Many of the people who work for the government could make more in the private sector but would lose their retirement and lose their job security.
We need to ensure that our elected officials are working to protect the professionals who work for the Federal Government when trying to balance the budget on the backs of the workforce.