President Donald Trump wants to cancel an expected pay raise for federal civilian workers, including thousands of local employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the VA, he announced Thursday.
The president told congressional leaders the move is needed to deal with rising federal deficits for 2019.
“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course,” Trump wrote in a letter to the House and Senate. “I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.”
Local Congressman Mike Turner, whose district includes Wright-Patt, called the president’s action “shortsighted” and said Congress needs to “ensure a competitive pay scale” for federal employees.
Turner, R-Dayton, wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday expressing his opposition to Trump’s plan to cancel the pay increase.
“We must work together to balance the budget but not on the backs of federal civilian employees,” Turner wrote in his letter.
There are more than 12,000 federal civilian workers at Wright-Patt and over 15,000 in the Dayton region, according to Turner’s office.
Members of the military will not be impacted and are set for a 2.6 percent pay increase.
“The President says we cannot afford this pay raise,” Turner wrote in his letter to Ryan and McConnell. “However, it is my firm belief that our country cannot afford to make the federal government a less attractive place to work and risk losing these often-undervalued employees to the often higher-paying private sector,”
Turner is up for re-election to his House seat this November. His opponent in Ohio’s 10th Congressional District is Democrat Theresa Gasper, who said that Trump’s decision shows that “dysfunction is at its peak right now.”
“President Trump and Republicans in Congress push for tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy and corporations that would ship jobs overseas but renege on their promises to public service workers, citing cost concerns,” Gasper said in a statement. “They are simply being penny wise and pound foolish, preventing local communities and an institution like Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from attracting the talent that we need to be successful.”
The cancelled pay increases would cost $25 billion, Trump said.
Trump is not only canceling the scheduled increase in pay, but also what’s known as “locality pay increases,” which go to federal workers who live in higher-cost areas of the country.
“In light of our Nation’s fiscal situation, Federal employee pay must be performance-based, and aligned strategically toward recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets,” the president wrote.
“These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce,” Trump wrote.
The largest union representing government workers — American Federation of Government Employees — is rejecting the move to eliminate the pay increase for fiscal year 2019 and calling for Congress to follow the Senate’s lead. AFGE wants Congress to move forward with the 1.9 percent pay increase that has already passed the Senate in the fiscal 2019 Financial Services spending bill.
“President Trump’s plan to freeze wages for these patriotic workers next year ignores the fact that they are worse off today financially than they were at the start of the decade,”AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement.
Cox said the increase would “help prevent workers from falling further behind next year and help federal agencies recruit and retain the high-caliber workforce that the public expects and deserves.”
For 2019, the Trump administration is projecting the deficit will once again top $1 trillion and stay at that level for the next three years.
The Associated Press Contributed to this story.
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