President Reagan's new budget contains few suprises -- and very little good news -- for the 520,000 government civilians, military personnel and U.S. retirees in the Washington area. Here is a thumbnail sketch of the shopping list he has sent to Congress for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1:
* An October pay raise targeted at 5 percent for civilian white collar workers. The budget anticipates that Congress will limit wage board (blue collar) civilians to the same amount as white collar workers.
The president will not formally announce the size of the October raise until late in August. The raise he designates goes into effect automatically unless Congress votes a higher amount.
* An 8 percent raise for military personnel.
* The requirement that federal and postal workers begin paying 1.3 percent of their salary (on amounts up to $32,400) for Medicare coverage for which most become eligible for at age 65. The proposal, if Congress agrees, would not require federal workers to pay any other costs of Social Security.
* Limit future raises for retired federal workers and military retirees to either the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index or to the amount of the previous year's pay increase for active federal workers, whichever is lower.
Federal and military retirees (there are 100,000 here) now get inflation-catchup raises each March, based on the rise in the CPI for the previous year. Retirees are now due an 8.7 percent cost of living raise.
If the Reagan proposal -- we tipped you to it last week -- were already law, federal retirees this year would be limited to a 4.8 percent annuity adjustment (the same percentage raise that active duty workers got in October 1981) rather than the 8.7 percent they will actually get based on 1981's CPI.
* Legislation that would limit or eliminate future COL raises for retirees whose annuities are equal to or higher than amounts they would get if they retired now from their same grade level.
Because retired pay -- pegged to the inflation rate -- has gone up faster than regular pay increases for active duty civilian and military personnel, many who retired years ago get annuities that are bigger than their counterparts retiring today from the same grade or military rank. Example: A person who retired from the middle step of Grade 15 in 1973 receives an annuity that is$8,868 per year more than the same individual who retired last year would receive, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Under the COL-limiting legislation, if a retiree's annuity is equal to or higher than what he would get retiring today, he would be held to 75 percent of the annual inflation adjustment. Retirees whose annuities are 120 percent higher than amounts they would receive if retiring today would not get any COL adjustment until the annuity of counterparts retiring today and in future caught up.
That proposal, as we pointed out last week, would require the government to compute the annuity of each federal and military retiree annually to determine if it is lower, or higher, than the individual would qualify for if retiring now. The mind-boggling paperwork involved, plus the heavy political flak the proposal will raise from retirees could lessen its appeal with this election-year Congress.
The president's budget anticipates a 1984 overhaul of federal civilian pay-fixing machinery by Congress. Reagan's proposal made last February is similar to one requested by President Carter, which Congress ignored.
Briefly, the plan would base future federal civilian pay raises on wage increases in selected private sector companies (as at present) but also average in pay levels for 12 million state and local government workers whose salaries are not now included in the annual federal pay survey.
Administration officials say that "total compensation," that is the value of federal pay and fringe benefits, should be weighed when determining future federal pay raises. Although most government fringe benefits are roughly equal to those of nonfederal workers (ahead in some categories, behind in others), the federal retirement system generally is superior to anything in industry. Officials estimate that the value of federal fringe benefits equals 40 percent of total compensation.