President Donald Trump announced a 1.9 percent pay increase plan for government employees Thursday as an alternative to a law that would have raised salaries by far more.
Trump notified Congress in a letter Thursday that he is implementing an alternate pay schedule because he views “the adjustments that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.”
Under the current law, the the pay schedule that governs federal employee salaries would raise pay in 2018 by an average of 26 percent and cost taxpayers $26 billion, according to the White House.
“A pay increase of this magnitude is not warranted, and federal agency budgets could not accommodate such an increase while still maintaining support for key federal priorities such as those that advance the safety and security of the American people,” Trump wrote of the current plan.
The law Trump references that mandates pay increases is the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act. Previous presidents have routinely overridden the law, but Trump’s statements are stronger than the language that former President Barack Obama used.
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a sustainable fiscal course,” Trump wrote.
Federal employee unions and advocacy groups opposed Trump’s plan, and would favor a larger increase.
“While federal employees will appreciate the raise, an average increase of 1.9 percent is the minimum required to prevent federal pay from declining further, and more rapidly, below market than the current 35 percent wage disparity between public- and private-sector wages,” said Richard Thissen, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which supports a 3.2 percent federal wage increase, believes the increase is not good enough.
“NTEU believes this figure is too low especially in light of the fact that federal law calls for a 1.9 percent across-the-board raise and private sector wages are growing at an even faster rate,” Reardon said in a statement. “Add to that, current proposals attacking the federal retirement system would result in a pay cut for federal workers.”
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