(WASHINGTON) – The American Federation of Government Employees today responded to President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal, including a 1.4% pay raise for civilian and military employees. “We are going to work very hard with Congress to adjust the 1.4% pay raise upward,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “While we are pleased that the administration recognizes the importance of pay parity between civilian employees and the military, a 1.4% pay raise will do nothing to close the remaining pay gap between federal and non-federal salaries. We’re talking about a pay raise that will take effect an entire year from now. Although the economy is still weak today, all signs point to a recovery by 2011, and by that time prices will be higher, health insurance premiums will be much, much higher, and labor markets will have tightened.”
The 2011 budget goes a long way to take care of our nation’s veterans and our retirees. “We are relieved that President Obama recognizes how understaffed the Social Security Administration is. This increase will go a long way in reducing the unacceptable backlog in handling and processing disability claims, appeals and hearings that has been created by years of understaffing, the aging baby boomers and the economic recession,” continued Gage.
AFGE lauded the decision to increase Veterans Administration funding. “For too long, the unpredictability and inadequacy of the VA’s discretionary funding process has had an adverse impact on the care of our nation’s veterans. With an increase in funding of 20% since 2009, and with advanced appropriations, the 2011 budget honors veterans by fortifying the world-class medical care they deserve,” said J. David Cox, AFGE national secretary-treasurer and former VA nurse.
“We are also pleased that President Obama recognizes the need to strengthen the federal prison system, including a significant increase in full-time employee positions. The imminent threat that understaffing has posed to federal correctional officers, prisoners and the communities that surround the prisons have become a dangerous matter of life or death. Proper staffing will help alleviate the dire situation in our federal prisons,” said Gage.
The 2011 budget touches on the need to control contractor costs. “We are as committed to eliminating waste, fraud and abuse with the federal government as anyone. However, many federal agencies have not yet recovered from the onslaught they experienced during the past administration. We are eager for more defined guidance on the insourcing of government jobs. Over the past decade far too many American tax dollars were wasted away through sole-source contracts and misguided personnel systems. The boost in the acquisition workforce in the 2011 budget points to a desire for more government efficiency which would allow agencies to rein in their budgets while still hiring more federal employees,” said Gage.
The president’s budget also proposes increases for the EPA, the FDA and for OSHA. “We commend the essential and necessary strengthening of our nation’s regulatory agencies. With additional staff, the right people at the head of these agencies and sufficient resources, these agencies will be better able to fulfill their missions of protecting the American public from bacteria outbreaks in our food chain; on the job injuries and deaths; and environmental danger. Regulation in these vital areas can only preserve the health and well being of our country.”
However, the proposed budget includes no additional funding for the Federal Protective Service - one of the nation's most important homeland security agencies. “In past three years, the GAO has come out with no less than four reports detailing the impact of insufficient funding and manpower and the vulnerability it has created in our national homeland security safety net. The agency remains underfunded, understaffed and unimproved in any real way. We hope that Congress will provide the necessary funding to secure the nation's federal buildings,” concluded Gage.