Washington, D.C.—The administration’s fiscal 2015 budget blueprint proposes reversing the damaging trend of underfunding key agencies and calls for needed investments in federal employee training, the leader of the nation’s largest independent union of federal employees said today.
While applauding the budget’s call to invest in federal agencies, the NTEU leader again expressed her disappointment with the proposed 1 percent pay raise for federal civilian employees in 2015. “Given the three-year pay freeze and the 1 percent increase for this year, the amount proposed for 2015 will keep federal workers at an economic disadvantage compared to their private sector counterparts,” she said.
At the same time, President Colleen M. Kelley of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) welcomed administration recognition that—at $138 billion—federal workers already have contributed more to deficit reduction and economic recovery than any other group in our society. The recognition is reflected in two retirement provisions not contained in the budget proposal—namely, no increase in pension contribution, along with no proposal to use the so-called ‘chained’ consumer price index for calculating annuity increases.
President Kelley has made clear that NTEU will press Congress to roll back higher pension contributions from new federal hires.
The budget proposes important increases for key revenue-producing agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). At the IRS, the proposed $12.477 billion budget, an increase over the current level of $11.3 billion, will help to improve taxpayer services and reduce the deficit.
“With the loss of 10,000 employees and training cuts of 87 percent since 2010, it will take several years for the IRS to rebuild, but this is a good first step. Taxpayers are not getting the assistance they need and revenue is being left on the table,” said President Kelley.
The president is proposing an increase in staffing for CBP which would result in an historic level of CBP Officers—25,775. The addition of these officers will help CBP process increased travel and trade at air, land and sea ports of entry.
“NTEU has been vocal in its belief that CBP needs a significant increase in staffing to fulfill its all-important mission of protecting our borders and facilitating passenger and cargo traffic,” said the NTEU leader. “An investment of CBP Officers is an investment in the American economy.”
Meanwhile, the president is proposing a significant increase of 26 percent for the Securities and Exchange Commission to continue its vital role in implementing the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and protecting investors.
Within the Department of Health and Human Services, the budget earmarks resources for the Food and Drug Administration to improve food safety and oversight of compounding pharmacies.
The NTEU president also applauded the budget’s focus on the importance of increased investments in training, development and recruitment of the federal workforce. A White House accompanying document said such investments would help in “unlocking the potential of our government and ensuring that we can attract and retain the best talent and foster a culture of excellence.”
“Agency training budgets have been severely strained in recent years,” Kelley said. “Federal employees deal with highly complex and ever-changing laws and regulations. Training is a vital part of the operation of every agency.”
NTEU is the largest independent federal union, representing 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.