It is estimated that more than 20,000 federal workers reside and work in Montana, in positions ranging from park rangers to FBI employees. A move to extend a pay freeze on federal workers could mean those employees may not see a payraise until after 2013.
The House has voted to extend a pay freeze for another nine months. The current freeze has been in effect since 2011, when President Obama initiated it as a method of curbing spending.
Rep. Ron DeSantis sponsored the House bill, which would block the half-of-a-percent pay raise that President Obama ordered to begin in March. Obama has said that a one percent pay raise for federal workers will be part of his 2014 budget proposal.
Supporters of extending the pay freeze say it's a vital way to rein in government spending. Opponents say federal workers have already sacrificed their fair share, and now it's time to adjust their pay to cost of living.
"Federal employees who are here in the [Flathead] Valley, bring a lot of income into the Valley. They have to buy groceries. They have to buy gas. They have to buy their cars, and if these people have less money to spend, like everyone else, they're not going to spend as much," said Jim Reid, a retired federal employee and the Kalispell Chapter President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.