Managers Critical of FY2018 Funding Process
To say the process to fund the federal government is complex is an understatement. Considering that spending, including both mandatory and discretionary, totals more than $4 trillion dollars annually, that makes sense.
Under regular order, the President submits a budget proposal, outlining the administration’s request. The House of Representatives and the Senate then provide their budget proposals. The details emerge in committee as Congress determines precise levels of funding and authority through appropriations. However, we’re several weeks into Fiscal Year 2018, and the process is ongoing.
FMA is deeply concerned by the cuts included the House-passed budget resolution to federal employee’s retirement benefits. On Thursday, October 5, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its 2018 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 71) by a vote of 219-206. The resolution requires the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to cut $32 billion over ten years to federal compensation and retirement programs to cut the deficit. The budget resolution proposes every federal employee pay vastly more toward their pension and eliminates the FERS annuity supplement. Those proposals mirror the administration’s budget proposal, released in May 2017.
President Trump’s FY2018 budget request includes several other cuts to federal employee retirement benefits, in addition to the enormous increase to employee contributions and elimination of the FERS annuity supplement included in the House-passed Budget resolution. It also eliminates cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for all FERS employees, cuts CSRS COLAs, and includes cuts of $1.9 billion in “other federal retirement changes,” including shifting the calculation of retirement benefits from the highest three years to the highest five. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would be eliminated as well.
When we add these proposed cuts together, it equals broken policy and broken promises. For too many years, federal employees have been in the crosshairs of budget cuts. It is shortsighted for Congress to view federal employees’ hard-earned retirement benefits and compensation as a treasury to be looted. Federal managers and other federal employees have honored their agreement to serve their country, and earned these benefits over decades of hard work. It is unacceptable to punish middle-class public servants who work to complete their congressionally-mandated missions with limited resources. Federal employees are charged with national security, processing tax returns and Social Security payments, caring for our veterans, protecting our food supply, and countless other services. They represent the best of America, and they deserve to be compensated and treated fairly.
As noted above, the House budget proposal is only one part of the larger process. It’s important to note that it is non-binding. And the Senate passed its own budget resolution by a vote of 51-49 on Thursday, October 19, and it does not directly recommend cuts to federal employee’s benefits. The two chambers will need to resolve differences in these resolutions. In the meantime, the federal government is currently operating on a continuing resolution, which is preferable to a shutdown but is laden with its own challenges and problems. Continuing resolutions force managers and supervisors to focus on short-term operations and less on their core missions, impeding efficiency and ultimately costing the government – and American taxpayers – more money in the long-run. This lack of stability results in uncertainty, unpredictability, and inhibits all government services, from national defense to domestic programs.
As the debate over funding the remainder of FY2018 continues to unfold, FMA will continue to fight against unwarranted cuts to compensation or benefits that have been earned over decades of dedicated service. Looking ahead, FMA will remain vigilant in advocating on behalf of managers as the FY2019 process kicks off in a few short months. If early reports are accurate, the administration plans to seek a pay freeze for all feds in 2019, and eliminate the FERS defined benefit program for all new hires. FMA will stand firm and be ready to fight for responsible budgets and excellence in public service.
Written by the Federal Managers Association (FMA). To learn more, visit their website: FedManagers.org
Posted in Hear it from FMA