President Bush is giving substantial pay raises to thousands of federal employees in the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas in a move drawing protests from other areas where the cost of living is high.
"Boston federal workers are getting a raw deal," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who initiated a letter signed by 10 House members from Massachusetts to Bush."Civil servants in the Boston area face one of the highest disparities between private and public sector pay in the nation," Markey said.
The executive order signed by Bush on Wednesday provides for 8 percent extra pay raises for tens of thousands of civil servants in the three metropolitan areas because of the high cost of living there. The order also raises the pay of his vice president, Cabinet, members of the House, and top government executives by tens of thousands of dollars apiece.
House and Senate members from Massachusetts and Connecticut protested that living expenses in their states are just as high and that federal workers there should get the same raise.
Bush's order provides a 4.1 percent across-the-board raise for all federal workers. The 8 percent raise for those in the three urban areas would come on top of the 4.1 percent hike. The extra raise would benefit most of the 48,596 civilian federal employees in the Los Angeles area and the 40,280 workers in the San Francisco area, according to OPM statistics.
Bush's own annual salary remains frozen at $200,000. But other top officials got hefty pay raises.
Vice President Dan Quayle, House Speaker Thomas Foley and Chief Justice William Rehnquist all will be making $160,600 per year as of Jan. 1 after getting an approximately 29 percent pay raise.
Congress already has provided money for the pay raises. Bush's order, which had been expected, was necessary to make it official.
The 435 members of the House and several non-voting delegates will all make $125,100 next year, and each senator will draw $101,900.
In addition to Rehnquist, all other members of the federal judiciary are in for a raise. Associate justices of the Supreme Court will receive $153,600; appeals court judges, $132,700; district judges, court of international trade and claims court judges, $125,100.
The House voted itself a 25 percent increase in pay, plus a cost-of-living adjustment, in exchange for forgoing speech honorariums. The senators passed up the big pay raise but can still draw speech fees, up to a maximum of about $27,500.
House members earned $96,600 this year, while senators were paid $98,400.
Raising the lid on lawmaker pay also ratchets up the civil service pay scales. Grade 18 civil servants, the top scale, will be paid up to $97,317, compared to a current maximum of $78,200.