June isn't exactly turning out to be a merry month for people in (or formerly with) the federal establishment. This is when the hard budget decisions are being made. Congress and the White House appear determined to slash billions from upcoming pay raises, fringe benefits and Social Security benefits for many workers and retirees.
Congress is considering a plan that would reduce take-home pay of most workers by raising their 1982 health insurance premiums as much as 100 percent in some cases. The idea is to require the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program, which covers 9 million workers and family members -- including 600,000 people here -- to begin picking up the bills for eligible retirees now covered by Social Security under Medicare or Medicade.
The Senate has tentatively approved a 4.8 percent (maximum) pay raise this October for civil servants who, according to the government's own math, are already 12 percent behind private sector pay scales.
There is a move in the House to boost the Octber pay raise (for 300,000 white collar aides here) to 5.45 percent, as well as to preserve the twice-yearly COL (cost of living) raise system for retirees. Two Senate committees have already agreed to drop one of the March and September raises retirees get.
To come up with dollar savings to protect the twice-yearly COL raises for retirees, the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee would trim $740 million from the paychecks of 175,000 military retirees (around 15,000 of them here) through a pay/pension offset. (check Monday's column for what that would mean in dollars to affected retirees.)