Pay raise, FERS surgery, what’s next?

With just over 100 days until the election and our once hot Washington Nationals playing more like the hapless Washington Senators of old, it’s time to take a midyear checkup. Things change and the horrors de jour that capture the media’s attention, and terrify some federal workers and retirees, sometimes change or go away.

Earlier this year the president proposed a zero pay raise for January 2019. In its place would be a yet-to-come system that would give agencies more flexibility and cash to reward outstanding workers with outstanding raise. That was instead of giving everybody in the same location in the same agencies the same percentage increase.

Now there is positive talk that some kind of raise, either 1.9 percent by some counts or 3 percent as proposed by congressional friends of feds, could be worked out via the appropriation process after the midterm election. The House version of the appropriation package does not contain a federal pay raise. One version of the Senate plan does call for a 1.4 percent raise across-the-board, plus 0.5 percent for locality pay raises. If that happens it would be exactly the same raise nonpostal feds got last January.

For the past several years government workers and retirees have been riveted to fast-changing proposals that would make the FERS retirement program much more expensive for current and future workers, and less valuable to retirees. One plan would raise employee contributions one percentage point each year until people were paying 6 percent more toward their retirement.

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In addition to that significant cut in take-home pay, people under the FERS program would no longer be eligible for any cost of living adjustments — ever. Under another plan, CSRS retirees would lose some of their inflation protection because future January COLAs would be 0.5 percent less than the actual rise in inflation as measured by the CPI-W.

While all those proposals from Congress and the White House are still out there, people are making little noise about them. Have they started to fade as up-front issues, as happened this time last year? Or will they come back in the lame duck Congress?

We’re hoping to get some of the answers, or at least educated speculation, today when Federal News Radio reporter Nicole Ogrysko joins us on our Your Turn radio show at 10 a.m. EDT. She’s been tracking pay, retirement and reorganization actions in agencies and Congress. We see if we can find out what’s up, where she thinks things are going and what’s the timetable. Listen at www.federalnewsradio.com or on 1500 AM in the D.C. area. All shows are archived on our website.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Worldwide, there are thought to be nearly 300 million submerged trees worth as much as $50 billion. They can be extracted through the process known as underwater logging, and the wood is relatively well preserved because it is not exposed to insects or the same oxygen levels as terrestrial trees.

Source: University College London