July-August 2019 Government Affairs Update

Federal Budget Set Through 2021

Congress passed, and Trump signed, legislation setting total spending limits for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R. 3877) calls for some reductions in spending, it prevents automatic cuts that would have taken effect on October 1 of this year had a budget deal not been reached. The agreement also suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021. Risks for government shutdowns remain, however, because lawmakers and the president must continue enacting appropriation bills for agencies and departments.

Since the budget agreement adds $320 billion in spending authority, figuring out how to fund programs and projects should be easier. Additionally, most of the $77.4 billion in cuts called for do not hit until the end of the next decade and are likely to be rejected by future budgetmakers.

 

IPMA-HR Opposes Proposed Mandates for Collective Bargaining

The Association submitted a statement to the U.S. House Health, Employment, Labor, and Pension Subcommittee expressing opposition to the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 1154/S. 1394) and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 3463/S. 1970). Respectively, the bills would require mandatory collective bargaining for public safety employees and for all public sector workers.

Issues raised in the statement, which you can read in full here, include

  • The lack of research showing that state and local government with collective bargaining are more efficient and effective.
  • The existence of proof that unionization is no guarantee of harmonious labor-management relations. Five of the 11 work stoppages by state and local government employees in 2018 involved unions.
  • Possible increases in compensation costs for state and local governments, especially for retirement benefits, could result in higher taxes or reductions in vital services. In its March 2019 report on employer costs for employee compensation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that government workers averaged $50.89/hour in compensation and private sector workers averaged $34.49/hour.
  • Further straining the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The FLRA, which is named in both bills as the administering agency, is already beleaguered and currently ill-suited to manage state and local government collective bargaining. It ranked 27th among 29 small agencies on the most recent Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey conducted by the Partnership for Public Service.

The Association supports collective bargaining when the nature and extent of such activities are determined by state and local governments. It is felt, however, that imposing a federal mandate for collective bargaining could produce unwelcome consequences.

 

$15 Federal Minimum Wage Bill Passes House

With six Democrats opposing the legislation and three Republicans supporting it, the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582) passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 231-199 on July 18. The Senate is unlikely to take up the proposal. Congressional Budget Office analysts estimated that raising the federal minimum wage in annual increments to $15/hour in 2025 could increase pay for 17 million workers while putting between 1.3 million and 3.7 million people out of work.

 

House Votes to Repeal ACA’s ‘Cadillac Tax’

H.R. 748, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019, gets rid of a looming 40 percent excise tax on generous health insurance plans. The measure passed with broad bipartisan support, and the Senate is expected to approve its own version of the repeal.

IPMA-HR supports elimination of the tax, as many of its agency and individual members would have had to pay the levy if it went into effect in 2022. Forgoing the revenues will cost the government an estimated $200 billion over 10 years.

 

For additional information, please contact IPMA-HR Executive Director Neil Reichenberg at nreichenberg@ipma-hr.org.

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