The concept of pay parity is popular now with some in Congress and with many federal employees. It isn’t so popular with all Congressional representatives though.
According to the Washington Post, Ernest J. Istook Jr., (R-OK) chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handles the federal pay raise, has sent a letter to his colleagues in the House telling them that it is necessary to back the President’s proposal calling for a 1.5 percent increase in pay for federal employees in 2005 and a 3.5 percent increase for military personnel.
It isn’t surprising that this issue is arising. With the federal budget deficit spiraling out of control, Congress will be looking for ways to cut the deficit. Istook says that giving federal employees the higher raise would cost taxpayers an extra two billion dollars during the fiscal year.
Moreover, the Congressman notes that federal employees have routinely been given a pay raise in excess of the inflation rate and at a higher rate than given to those receiving Social Security. This amounts to a 30 percent pay raise over the past eight years.
There is little doubt we will be hearing much more on the pay raise issue as the 2005 budget is debated. This step by Congressman Istook is certainly not the deciding factor but it does illustrate the arguments that will be coming into play as the issue is debated. The increasing deficit will put more pressure on Congress to cut spending in a number of areas impacting most federal agencies in one way or another.