Congress told funds for bigger military pay raise would be better-spent on bonuses

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Congress told funds for bigger military pay raise would be better-spent on bonuses

Compensation experts told a Senate personnel subcommittee this week, that the $350 million cost of adding one-half percent to the proposed military pay raise could achieve more beneficial results if used for bonuses.  Dr. Carla Tighe-Murray, an analyst for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), said that increasing the across-the-board military pay raise to 1.9 percent from the 1.4 percent requested in the president’s budget would raise average basic pay for enlisted personnel by about $150.  CBO estimates that this increase would encourage only 1,000 enlistments or reenlistments  But, according to William J. Carr, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, this may not be the best use of these funds.   He argued that the status of the military pay system is “healthy,” with military pay “above the 70th percentile for similarly educated and experienced workers in the private sector.”  He said that instead of funding a relatively small pay raise, the extra money could provide bonuses of $30,000 to over 11,000 service members with specialized skills or training.  This would help the Military Services address the recruiting and retention challenges they face, especially in the area of Special Forces and health care.  Carr noted that meeting these challenges will become more difficult as the economy improves and the chances of unexpected shortages increase.  Therefore, Special and Incentive (S&I) pays will also become more important in the overall military compensation package.

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