The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 13, 2013

Fewer workers, higher contributions toward retirement sought

By Eric Yoder

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The federal workforce would be reduced by attrition and employees would pay more toward their retirement benefits under the budget plan unveiled this week by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“The federal government’s responsibilities require a strong federal workforce. Federal workers deserve to be compensated equitably for their important work, but their pay levels, pay increases and fringe benefits should be reformed to better align with those of their private-sector counterparts,” the plan says.

“The federal workforce is composed of some of the best-educated and most dedicated people in America. This workforce is integral to a well-functioning government. However, taxpayers must also receive an excellent value for their dollars,” it adds.

The plan refers in several places to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office report that concluded federal employee compensation, on average, is 16 percent above that of comparable private-sector workers. In that study, most of the advantage involved benefits; federal employees were found to be ahead in salary by 2 percent on average. Also, the CBO found substantial variation within that average, with a larger pay gap in favor of less-educated federal workers but a pay gap in favor of the private sector for those who are more educated. Other studies, most of them focusing just on pay, have reached widely varying conclusions on pay comparability.

The Ryan plan, which is scheduled for a committee vote this week and would take effect for the government fiscal year that begins in October, calls for “greater contributions” by employees toward their retirement benefits, with the government share decreasing in tandem. A committee spokesman said in an e-mail that the budget envisions requiring equal contributions from both sides, meaning an increase in the employee share of about 5.5 percentage points.

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