What’s on the menu besides you: Prey or pray?

After weeks of negotiations, the House and the Senate passed a compromise budget. Senior Correspondent Mike Causey asked the Federal Managers Association to rev...

After weeks of planning, horse-trading and data swapping — broken up by several extended vacation periods — the House and Senate have arrived at a compromise budget for federal workers in 2016. In dollar terms, the House has agreed to minimize, to some extent, the cuts it had planned for federal pay and benefits. The Senate has agreed to slightly more cuts than it originally proposed. The next question is which proposals will Congress zero in on and their impact on pay, pensions and health insurance premiums.

We asked the Federal Managers Association to go through its checklist of what’s on the table, and what it proposed changed — if passed into law — would mean to you. This is FMA’s assessment of where you are today:

“In both the House and Senate preliminary budget plans, calls for attrition were made. While the House explicitly called to replace every three employees who left the service with only one new hire, the Senate implicitly recommended the attrition measures as called for in the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which is also a one for three rate. These cuts were not explicitly made in the final budget proposal, but federal employees need to be aware that Congress is examining attrition as a means for cost savings and deficit reduction. These personnel cuts would mean federal agencies and departments would struggle to meet the demands of the American public. Agencies such as the IRS and Social Security already struggle to meet demand with diminished manpower; if attrition is implemented, the problem will only grow.

“While the recent changes to retirement benefits have only been made for new hires, increases to employee contribution grew significantly. These reductions to retirement benefits reduced federal employee compensation by $21 billion over 10 years. Even more troubling are future cuts to retirement will affect not just new employees, but all current federal employees, both those enrolled in both the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employee Retirement System. Additionally, separate from the budget deal, Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ariz.) introduced legislation calling for calculating your retirement annuities on the highest five consecutive salaries instead of the current three, which would drastically reduce hard working federal employees’ retirement annuities and impact their golden years’ financial stability.

“Another concern is the congressional budget plan keeps sequestration in place. When sequestration was originally implemented, federal employees across the country struggled to meet the demands of the Budget Control Act in 2011. Agency and department budgets were slashed, Department of Defense employees were furloughed for 11 days , IRS employees were under a constant threat of furloughs, and the Social Security Administration was forced to shut down field offices in order to meet cuts. When sequestration was first proposed, members of Congress repeatedly commented how devastating it would be to the federal government and the economy. However, a solution was never developed. If sequestration cuts remain in place, the quality of public services will suffer.

“Members of Congress also continue to look at federal agencies and departments’ budgets as a source of deficit reduction. Every fiscal year, budgets are kept at or below previous spending limits. These cuts would be in addition to sequestration, further limiting the abilities of federal employees to meet their missions and goals. This is not only a threat from Congress; recently, Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan recently issued a memo to agency leadership calling for a 5 percent reduction to discretionary spending. The federal government will not be able to continue to function effectively if its budget is continually attacked.”

Bottom line, it could have been worse. That said, FMA said the federal workforce, pay and perks, cannot remain “under a constant threat. If Congress and the Administration continue to view the federal budget and federal pay and benefits as a piggy bank, it will do nothing to create a sustainable federal government. These attacks do nothing but erode morale, and take away from the ability to recruit and retain a capable workforce.”


By Michael O’Connell

Mozzarella is America’s favorite cheese, with cheddar coming in second. According to the USDA, the U.S. consumed 11.5 pounds of mozzarella per capita in 2012.

Source: Time.com


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