3/20/12: Today, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee, unveiled his budget for FY 2013. As it did last year, the budget calls for drastic cuts in federal personnel and benefits. Stating that federal employees are “immune from the effects of the recession” and justifying cuts to federal personnel and benefits by saying that the cuts “reflect the growing frustration of workers across the country at the privileged rules enjoyed by government employees,” Representative Ryan’s proposals calls for a 10% reduction in personnel over the next three years through attrition; a pay freeze through 2015; and making federal fringe benefits "more in line with the private sector," including “more equitable” contributions to the federal retirement system. Together, these cuts amount to $368 billion over ten years.
In large part through its attacks on the federal workforce, the misguided fiscal 2013 budget proposal made public today by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), raises a very real threat of significantly reduced service to the public, NTEU National President Colleen Kelley said. “The Ryan budget proposes to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent, and with its extension of the pay freeze and proposed pension contribution increases would drive many federal workers out of public service,” said President Kelley. "A sharply lowered federal workforce can lead only to a substantial increase in the use of unaccountable private contractors and a much higher cost of providing services,” she said.
“It is almost as though the authors of this budget don’t know, don’t understand or don’t care about the key role federal employees play in helping keep our nation safe, ensuring that our food and medicines are safe and effective, that our air and water are safe, and performing so many other services that people not only expect and want, but need, as well,” the NTEU leader said.
At the same time, she assailed the Ryan budget proposal for its attacks on federal employees. “These are public servants who already are contributing $75 billion over 10 years to deficit reduction, and to propose freezing their pay for another three years, raising their pension contributions and slashing their numbers by 10 percent can only be described as insulting in the face of their continuing contributions to our country,” said President Kelley.
“Rep. Ryan and those who support this budget simply refuse to accept that federal workers are a key component of our nation’s middle class,” Kelley said. “They are suffering like much of the rest of America—millionaires, billionaires and corporations that send jobs overseas excepted.”
She added: “Federal employees face the same higher gas prices as other Americans, the same increases in the price of food and health care services, and much more. As ordinary working people, they are not immune from the problems of the nation they serve.”
Kelley called the Ryan proposal “a rerun of a very bad movie from last year,” noting that the Budget Committee chairman’s fiscal 2012 budget proposal contained similar draconian strikes against federal workers. It was soundly rejected by the Senate.
Under the Ryan fiscal 2013 proposal, federal employees would see the present two-year pay freeze extended for another three years—through 2015—and face unspecified increases in their pension contributions. The effect of increased pension contributions would be a pay cut for federal workers, even though through the two-year freeze, they will contribute $60 billion to deficit reduction over a decade. The remainder of the $75 billion will come from higher pension contributions for new employees included as part of the payroll tax holiday extension.
“It is beyond me how any elected official can continue to single out one group of middle class working people to bear an unfair share of the financial burden,” the NTEU leader said, noting that of the more than two dozen anti-federal employee legislative proposals pending in the House and Senate, “the concept of shared sacrifice appears nowhere in these bills.”
NTEU will make its position known to members of Congress on these proposals, as your Union has done in the past.