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Big pay raise proposed for 2023

There is good news for military families in the Pentagon’s 2023 budget. Photo credit: U.S. Army photo

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Military members and civilian workers may receive a 4.6% pay raise - the largest in 20 years - under the Pentagon's annual budget request. This represents a 2.7% increase over the 2022 pay raise, but remains well below the current inflation rate.

"This is the largest pay raise in 20 years on the military and civilian side," said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

The Pentagon's proposed $773 billion budget also pushes ahead with sexual assault reforms and climate change initiatives, as well as spending $97.3 billion on air and sea platforms like the B-21 Raider bomber and Columbia-class submarines.

Meanwhile, members of the military, are grappling with the highest rate of inflation in decades - over 7% this year - which in turn has increased the cost of living which means that potential pay increases may not go as far in meeting family needs.

"We will at the same time be looking over the summer at where exactly inflation lands and how inflation ends up affecting our service members," continued Hicks. "That said, we built into this '23 budget the best information that we have at the time we built the budget."

Other expenditures include $479 million on sexual assault reforms recommended by a review panel ordered by President Biden.

Service members will be affected by new efforts to curb sexual assault and harassment in the military. The Pentagon reported 6,290 assaults in 2020, a 1% increase from the prior year.

Last year was a watershed period after President Biden mandated an independent commission review of the sexual assault problem in the military that recommended prosecutions be taken out of the chain of command.

Congress also mandated the overhaul of military justice to handle sexual assault prosecutions as part of the annual defense authorization bill in December.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin supports that finding, meaning the department is behind the idea for the first time after years of debate.

Hicks added that plans exist to create a full-time and specialized workforce within the military focused on preventing sexual assault as well as to add response coordinators and victim advocates.

Military families could also receive a $200 per month increase in child-care subsidies, and non-appropriated fund employees - federal employees who work at money-generating department businesses such as restaurants, golf courses and bowling allies - would receive a $15 per hour minimum wage.

The budget seeks money to invest in child care across "all sectors" of the Department of Defense and includes an increase in the fee assistance monthly subsidy cap for child care.

The subsidy is meant to bridge the gap between what a service member would pay for child care on base - fees calculated based on total family income - and community-based child care services.

Bases and military facilities would get $2 billion to adapt and prepare for changing climate and weather, such as more intense storms and more flooding. Over $1 billion would go to science and technology, and operational energy climate change programs, such as examining the use of electric vehicles.

The Pentagon's budget request represents just over a 1% growth in spending from the current fiscal year, and it was released in concert with President Biden's proposed fiscal 2023 budget for the entire federal government.

The requested spending covers all branches of the service. The largest amount, $57 billion, would be spent on air power; the Navy would receive $41 billion for nine new ships, carriers and submarines; the Army and Marine Corps will split $12.6 billion for land combat equipment.

The budget now heads to Congress, which will spend months creating its own version of the annual spending plan, to include pay increases, top-line spending, and weapons systems.

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