Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Features

December 13, 2013

Federal budget deal would have new hires pay more into pensions

WASHINGTON — Federal employees hired after Jan. 1 will make higher contributions toward their retirement benefits than current workers under a budget deal announced Tuesday night.

Under the agreement reached by the Budget Conference Committee, the new workers would pay an additional 1.3 percent of salary toward retirement, saving the government $6 billion over 10 years.

While federal employee unions strongly pushed against any additional payments from the workforce, the agreement is a much better deal for them than what Republicans and even President Barack Obama had proposed.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, wanted federal employees to pay an additional 5.5 percent toward retirement, or $130 billion over 10 years. Obama's proposal was for a 1.2 percent increase for all federal employees, yielding $20 billion from workers.

"This has been a brawl over the last 48 hours," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., a member of the conference committee whose district is heavy with federal workers. "This agreement will not require additional contributions by any current federal employees."

The agreement would create a three-tier system for employee contributions to their civil service pensions. Those hired before this year pay 0.8 percent of their salary, those hired in 2013 pay 3.1 percent and those hired after Jan. 1 would pay 4.4 percent under the budget agreement.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said she was "disappointed that the budget deal announced today proposes increases to federal employee retirement contributions for new hires; however, I am glad to see the numbers were significantly reduced from original proposals and that these retirement increases will not impact current employees.

"Considering the $114 billion current federal workers have already contributed to deficit reduction, it was the right decision not to ask them to sacrifice again," she said.

Van Hollen said Obama called from Air Force One, while traveling to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's funeral, to assure the congressman that the administration would not advance additional pension contributions from federal employees in its next budget proposal.

The budget agreement also would lower the compensation level the government pays to some outside contractors.

The compensation level, determined by a statutory formula, is now set at $952,308. The agreement, according to Van Hollen's office, would bring it down to $487,000.

Van Hollen said non-defense agencies would have $22.5 billion more in fiscal year 2014 than 2013, while the Pentagon will get $2 billion more.

"This should avoid furloughs in the coming year," he said.

The agreement has some good and some bad, he added, but on balance "it's a good step forward for the country."

Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said: "This deal continues with the dangerous precedent set by Congress last year in taking from future federal employees to pay for bad policies and deficit reduction now. . . . This drain on our nation's federal workforce must end. The federal government may never be the employer with the greatest pay and benefits, but it certainly shouldn't be the employer of last resort either, and that's where we are headed."

1
Text Only
Features
  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Wildcats aren't champs but we're all still watching Calipari

    Kentucky coach John Calipari is a college basketball phenom for his ability to knit together championship-caliber teams of freshmen. How long will Calipari's success last as other coaches catch on?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 9, 2014

  • spt_mariejones.jpg 92-year-old fan bleeds UK Wildcats blue

    As the Kentucky Wildcats prepare for their 16th Final Four appearance this weekend, they’ve reawakened the passions of fans across the country, including one woman who watches every game on TV, even though she can’t clearly see the players’ faces.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • For April Fools' Day: A sampling of scientific hoaxes over the centuries

    Speaking of jokes, in honor of April Fools' Day, Discovery magazine's Jonathon Keats briefly recounts some scientific hoaxes perpetrated over the centuries. His catalogue of cons includes "Aristotle's Masterpiece," a 17th-century mishmash of bogus medical texts and sex advice that remained in publication for 200 years.

    April 2, 2014

  • Newborn.JPG Census: U.S. has fewest births since 1998

    The U.S. recorded the most deaths in its history and the fewest births since 1998, resulting in the lowest population gain from natural causes in 35 years, an analysis of 2013 Census Bureau estimates released Thursday shows.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_mudslide.jpg Mudslide region deals with 'mind-numbing' disaster

    As hundreds of workers spent a fifth day digging through debris and wreckage, the death toll increased to 16 and was expected to keep rising; worse, no survivors have been found since Saturday, the day the landslide hit.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_sxswcrash.jpg VIDEO: Two dead at SXSW after car hits crowd

    A suspected drunken driver fleeing police crashed through barricades at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, slamming into a crowd outside a nightclub and killing a man and woman on a moped early Thursday, police said.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • missing-plane.jpg In this tech age, how can a plane go missing?

    Call 911 from the side of the road, and GPS satellites can tell dispatchers exactly where to send help. Airline passengers have access to detailed maps that show exactly where they are during their journey. Hop onto WiFi, and somehow Google knows whether you're logging on from Lima or London, and will give you detailed suggestions about what to eat.

    March 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140306-AMX-STAPLES6.jpg Staples to close 225 stores as online competition hurts sales

    Staples Inc., the largest U.S. office-supplies chain, will close as many as 12 percent of its North American stores and cut as much as $500 million in costs as online competition continues to hurt sales.

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

Poll