While almost everyone is watching the fiscal 1983 budget battle to see if concrete will crack around the Great Communicator's feet or if the speaker of the House will come out four-square against cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients, some have continued to wallow in fiscal 1982, the year that we're still trying to get through. The incomes of federal employes and several federal programs are tied up, right there, in supplemental budget requests.
The biggest ticket is a $6.14 billion supplemental appropriation for a federal pay raise, which the White House requested last week. How come, an editor wanted to know, that has to be a supplemental? Can't they plan better? Well, no. "You just don't know what the pay raise is going to be when you draw up the budget in December or January," an Office of Management and Budget type explained. "That's because the federal pay-setting system is such that the president doesn't say until August or September what the pay schedule will be; you don't know what the cost is."
As a result, the federal pay supplemental has become an annual affair. This pay raise was decided upon in October, and OMB waited to see how much of the added cost could be absorbed by "good management" before seeking the supplemental.
The congressional supplemental table also is laden with $155.6 million for other causes, some sought by the White House, some by others, and more items are certain to be added. Some are considered urgent--and thus will get a waiver from a House rule that prohibits a vote on spending that exceeds the $695.4 billion budget ceiling approved last spring--and others not so blessed can be bumped off by any House member who objects. Examples: $15.7 million for the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms See story at right , $5 million for Howard University, $2 million for Action, $3.1 million for Commerce Department salaries and other expenses, $4.5 million for Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and $2 million for its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.