President’s 2020 Austerity Budget Would Hurt Federal Workers, Starve Agencies

Press Release March 11, 2019

Washington D.C. – The president’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget is a brutal combination of cuts to federal employee compensation and agency operating budgets that, if approved, would be a devastating step backward for the civil service and the taxpayers who depend on them.

“For anyone still looking for proof that this administration is hostile to its frontline federal workforce, look no further than the FY 2020 budget proposal,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “It would deprive federal employees of the resources they need to do their jobs, slash their retirement benefits, reduce their take-home pay and generally make their lives – and the lives of the taxpayers they serve – more difficult.”

Reardon said NTEU will work with its allies in Congress to reject the president’s regressive approach to government and instead devise a plan for financing agencies to operate efficiently and effectively and shield federal employees from further cuts to their retirement.

“Clearly the administration learned nothing from the disastrous 35-day shutdown. The American people know full well that federal agencies need resources and federal employees deserve a fair paycheck, and this budget proposal – essentially a blueprint for how to ruin the civil service – provides neither,” Reardon said.

The budget document contains a familiar list of anti-employee proposals: no across the board pay raise for federal employees; increasing their retirement contributions which shrinks their paychecks; cutting their pensions; and making their health insurance more expensive. The budget proposes slashing $102 billion from federal employee retirement and health care programs over 10 years.

“Here we go again with a plan to make frontline federal workers – many of whom just suffered through a record-breaking shutdown – pay down the federal deficit with their pensions,” Reardon said. “NTEU will strongly oppose these cuts and instead urge Congress to keep its promises to federal employees.”

The budget makes a presumption that the NTEU-opposed plan to break up the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will move forward. The administration last year proposed dismantling OPM by sending core employee policy divisions to the White House and moving retirement processing and policy, along with administration of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to the General Services Administration.

NTEU continues its opposition to this plan that would open the non-partisan, merit-based civil service to political influence—a potential return to the spoils system that would undercut the professional federal workplace that serves our country.

NTEU has endorsed legislation to provide federal employees a 3.6 percent pay adjustment in 2020, which is more in line with private sector wage growth and the 3.1 percent the president’s budget proposes for the military.

“It is a shame that the administration is choosing, once again, to propose no pay increase for federal workers,” Reardon said. “Federal employees tackle the hardest issues we face as a society and they deserve to be paid a fair wage.”

The proposed 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency is an outrageous assault on the men and women who protect our natural resources and public health. The 11 percent reduction at the Department of Energy would stymie advanced research into alternative energy sources. A slight $200 million increase in the Internal Revenue Service budget does little to make up for $845 million in lost funding over the last 10 years. And at Customs and Border Protection, the budget would pay for 171 new CBP Officers at the ports of entry, less that 10 percent of the new hires still needed.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.