White-collar federal workers would get minimum pay raises of 5 percent in January 1987 and again in January 1988 under a budget plan being prepared by the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee.
The committee also is seeking budget language that could dramatically lower federal and postal worker health insurance premiums next year by having the government pay a bigger share of the total premium.
Currently the government pays about 61 percent of the average employe's and retiree's total health premiums. The maximum amount the government can pay is 75 percent.
Under the proposal, agencies could pay 80 percent or more of the premium, further reducing employes' insurance costs, which already are scheduled to drop an average of 6 percent next year, although some health plans will lower premiums as much as 40 percent.
The budget plan by committee Democrats -- which still has a long, long way to go -- would amend the overall budget tentatively approved by the Senate and House. That budget estimates -- but does not guarantee -- that U.S. workers whose pay will be frozen next year will get raises of 3.7 percent in 1987 and 4.8 percent in 1988. U.S. workers received a 4 percent raise in 1984 and a 3 1/2 percent increase last January.
Some Republican members object to the pay guarantees. They say locking the 5 percent figure in the budget would undercut the president's authority to base federal raises on current economic conditions.
The plan is certain to be approved by the committee because of its Democratic majority. But it must still clear the full House and Senate, which still are to decide on three-year spending targets starting with the fiscal year that begins next month.
Although Congress has approved an overall budget, committees have jurisdiction over various spending proposals for agencies like defense, social security and the civil service. The Post Office-Civil Service Committee can recommend how the budget will affect federal personnel spending but its recommendations are not binding on the House.
Both actions are a ray of sunshine for federal workers who have had nothing but gloomy pay news lately. But it is still too early in the complicated political-budgetary process for government workers to rejoice. Stay tuned!