January 17, 2014, 06:00 am
By Erik Wasson
The Senate’s approval Thursday night of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill finally put to bed the government’s budget for 2014.
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.)
The biggest winner of the omnibus is the appropriations chairman who negotiated it and was rewarded with 359 votes on the floor.
Rogers opposed October’s government shutdown and has long argued winning conservative policy goals in a divided government is better achieved through negotiation rather than threats. With the omnibus, he has proof. Continue reading “Boehner, Mikulski among omnibus winners”
The mass transit tax benefit used by thousands of federal employees will drop significantly in 2014, while the maximum parking benefit will increase by $5.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, commuters will be able to use up to $130 in monthly pre-tax dollars to subsidize their mass transit costs — $115 less than the current maximum of $245 per month. The parking benefit will increase to $250 per month next year, up from the current $245 cap. Something similar happened in 2012, when the cap on the mass transit benefit was $125 per month, and the limit on the parking benefit was $240 per month.
The upcoming changes are a result of the 2012 American Taxpayer Relief Act, also known as the fiscal cliff deal. That law restored parity between the mass transit and parking benefits, but only for 2013. The mass transit increase for 2013 was temporary, which is why the cap will be smaller in 2014; the change for the monthly parking limit is a permanent provision in the law so the annual cost-of-living adjustment will boost the maximum benefit to $250 per month next year.
Continue reading “Mass Transit Benefit Will Drop In 2014”
Jun. 18, 2012 – 08:09AM |
The 0.5 percent decline in the federal workforce last year — the first in five years — may not seem like much. But at the agencies where the cuts are most pronounced, the impact is big.
The Social Security Administration — which saw its staff shrink 6 percent last year — warned Congress last month it cannot keep up with swelling workloads as baby boomers retire and more Americans file for benefits.
At the IRS, which also saw a 6 percent staffing cut last year, fewer tax enforcement agents translates to $4 billion a year in uncollected revenues, according to the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees. The IRS has also cut customer service staff who help people pay their taxes.
“Everything is taking longer,” NTEU President Colleen Kelley said in an interview. “There are fewer examinations being done, fewer employees to help taxpayers get on payment plans, and the IRS is collecting less revenue, which means less money to fund every other agency.”
In most cases, agencies are cutting their workforces to help meet budget constraints. At some places, that means freezing hiring and not replacing employees who retire. At others — such as the IRS — buyouts have been offered to trim the ranks.
With the White House and Congress facing increasing pressure to cut the deficit — and steep cuts looming in January as part of the sequestration process — budgets are certain to get even tighter. And some experts fear Congress will continue cutting budgets without scaling back agencies’ missions, which will force some agencies to cut staffing to dangerous levels. Continue reading “Shrinking staffs imperil missions at key agencies”