President Trump Unveils 2019 Budget Plan

This week, President Donald Trump unveiled his Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget plan, setting his administration’s agenda for the coming year on a host of issues.

Of interest to federal employees will be the president’s civil service reform agenda, which has left some good governance advocates conflicted.

The president’s plan lays out a series of priorities the administration claims are necessary for civil service reform. The claims are well-founded, argues Senior Executives Association President Bill Valdez.

“Much of the language included in the president’s budget proposal rightly identifies many of the impediments our federal government confronts on a daily basis, while also correctly recognizing that the solutions will require a long-term commitment, rather than mere Band-Aids,” said Valdez.

Valdez notes that his excitement over the promising language is tempered, however, by other elements of the budget plan, stating that “even as the budget proposal suggests that our national and homeland security requires additional staffing in the military and along our borders, the budget reiterates penny-wise and pound-foolish proposals to enact federal pay freezes and retirement cuts.”

“Reneging on promises made to federal annuitants -- who planned their careers and retirements based on a set of commitments from their employer – should be a nonstarter,” Valdez said. “Put simply, we will neither attract, nor retain an innovative and talented 21st century federal workforce by undertaking a race to the bottom on federal pay and benefits.”

As referenced, under the President’s FY19 plan, federal employees would face a pay freeze next year. The budget also seeks to make a number of other changes to federal employees’ pay and benefits, including “increasing employee contributions to retirement by one percent per year until it reaches 50 percent,” eliminating the FERS retirement supplement, and eliminating “FERS cost of living adjustments and reduction of civil service cost of living adjustments by 0.5 percent.”

Other federal employee groups were similarly concerned by the budget’s pay and benefit provisions.

“This budget request is a continuation of unprecedented attacks on the earned pay and benefits of our nation’s public servants by this White House,” said National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association President Richard G. Thissen. “The budget proposals undermine the value of years of dedicated work by those who proudly served their country and break implicit promises made to these men and women in exchange for their employment.

Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union, said, “This document grossly distorts the current state of the federal workforce. They are not overpaid and underworked; they are middle-class Americans dedicated to public service and supporting their families.”

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