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Pay freeze would affect 8,000 local federal workers

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Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:21 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Anthony Scott

Killeen Daily Herald

Barack Obama's proposed legislation calling for a two-year wage freeze for more than 2 million federal employees could affect a number of people throughout Bell County.

Military personnel would be exempt, but about 8,000 civilian federal employees in Bell County could be subject to the freeze if it is approved.

"The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require broad sacrifice and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government," Obama said in speech Monday.

As it stands, there are about 6,000 federal civil servants at Fort Hood out of about 53,000 people who work on post, said Bill Parry, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance in Killeen.

Parry said the impact of the freeze would depend on your perspective.

"If you were a civil servant and you were expecting a raise, it might be a big deal for you, but in terms of the overall economy it's not going to be significant," he said.

Deborah Meyer, public affairs officer for Central Texas Veteran's Affairs, estimated about 2,100 VA employees work in Bell County out of about 3,000 people who work for Central Texas Veteran's Affairs.

If passed, the freeze could save about $2 billion in 2011 and $28 billion over the span of five years.

"I want to be clear: This freeze does not apply to the men and women of our Armed Forces, who along with their families continue to bear enormous burdens with our nation at war," Obama said.

Apart from freezing pay, Obama said the White House has set goals for the government to reduce spending with measures that include reducing improper payments by $50 billion, saving $40 billion in contracting, selling $8 billion of unneeded federal land and buildings and a three-year freeze on all non-security discretionary spending.

The national debt is currently about $14 trillion.

American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage spoke Monday, calling it an "attack" on wages.

"This seems to me, just a panic move," he said. "The Deficit Commission is coming out with their report a little later in the week. To move and freeze federal pay as some type of deficit reduction move is ... It's just terrible."

The AFGE is made up of more than 600,000 federal and D.C. government workers. Membership spans from the departments of defense and veteran affairs to the Social Security Administration and Department of Justice.

"This problem our country is in, it's about jobs, it's about wages, it's about revenue, and for this president to cut working people's wages is just wrong headed," Gage said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Anthony Scott at ascott@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.

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