SUMMARY: The administration released President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request, calling for an increase in funding to many agencies and an average 5.2 percent pay increase for federal employees.
Today, President Biden released initial details on his fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request. Additional information is expected to be released next week, including funding for most independent agencies and more details on funding for major departments. The $6.8 trillion budget plan seeks to increase spending on the military and a wide range of new social programs while also reducing future budget deficits.
As part of the request, the President calls for an average 5.2 percent pay increase for federal employees. Under the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990, employees should receive a 4.7 percent increase prior to any increases to locality pay rates. While the budget request is silent as to whether any amount is allocated for locality pay, given the President’s previous pay proposals, it is assumed that the locality pay increase would be 0.5 percent. A pay increase of 5.2 percent is also proposed for members of the military, which would provide parity once again.
Although this amount is a solid first step in the debate over federal employee pay, NTEU has endorsed and will continue to push for the FAIR Act (H.R. 536 and S. 124), which provides an average 8.7 percent pay increase, consisting of a 4.7 percent across-the-board increase plus an average 4.0 percent for locality pay, and is the same as the 2023 cost-of-living increase provided for retirees on Social Security. Rising costs and previous years of inadequate pay increases warrant the average 8.7 percent adjustment called for in the FAIR Act, especially due to the 24.09 percent pay gap between the federal government and the private sector, as recently reported by the Federal Salary Council. An average 8.7 percent adjustment would go further in helping federal agencies recruit and retain the employees they need to meet their important missions.
The FY 2024 budget request also maintains the administration’s unwavering support for the career civil service by advancing a legislative proposal to block Schedule F, which would threaten the proper functioning of the federal government by unduly subjecting career employees to politization and favoritism.
The budget also proposes to establish a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program administered by SSA. The proposal calls for providing workers with progressive, partial wage replacement to take time off for family and medical reasons, as well as robust funding to administer the program. This would likely be similar to the program in the Build Back Better Act that passed the House last Congress but did not advance in the Senate.
Regarding specific agency funding, the President’s budget request includes $535 million for CBP for border security technology at and between ports of entry, $40 million to combat fentanyl trafficking and disrupt transnational criminal organizations, and funding to hire an additional 460 processing assistants at CBP and ICE. While we appreciate the request for additional funding for port security technology and administrative support personnel at CBP, we will continue to do everything we can to push for new funding to hire additional frontline CBP Officers, Agriculture Specialists and others within the Office of Field Operations.
In addition, the budget request includes $14.1 billion for the IRS for FY 2024, an increase of almost $1.8 billion above the current level. This includes an increase of $642 million for taxpayer services, and dedicated funding to increase taxpayer compliance. Together with the long-term funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, this request will ensure the agency can rebuild its depleted workforce to improve customer service and generate much needed revenue that can be used to reduce the deficit or pay for other priorities.
Other federal agencies would also see an increase under the President’s budget request. The Department of Interior would receive $18.8 billion, an increase of 9.3 percent. The Department of Energy would receive $52 billion, an increase of 13.6 percent. EPA would receive $12 billion, an increase of 19 percent, while the National Park Service would receive $3.8 billion, an increase of $289 million. The President’s proposal also provides needed increases to the Department of Health & Human Services and the Social Security Administration.
As Congress begins working on government funding matters for the next fiscal year, NTEU will fight to ensure that employees receive a fair pay increase and that agencies receive the resources necessary to meet their missions.
Anthony M. Reardon