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Mideast edition, Thursday, May 3, 2007

WASHINGTON — Troops would see a 3.5 percent pay raise next year under a new House proposal, a sizable jump over last year’s increase and 0.5 percent more than the Defense Department’s requested raise for 2008.

Members of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee unanimously approved the 3.5 percent raise on Wednesday as part of the House’s draft military budget for Fiscal 2008.

Defense officials had asked for a 3 percent increase as part of their budget planning. The difference between the House proposal and the Pentagon’s plans would be about $6.50 a month for the youngest enlisted troops, and nearly $12.75 extra a month for an E-5 with 10 years in.

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., said the extra 0.5 percent is important to further reduce the gap between military and private sector pay.

Currently, congressional analysts estimate that military personnel make 3.9 percent less than comparable civilian personnel. As recently as 1999, that gap was at 13.5 percent.

The fiscal 2007 pay raise that went into effect in January was 2.2 percent, the smallest military personnel have seen in a decade.

In spring 2006, this same subcommittee pushed for a 2.7 percent pay increase, also 0.5 percent above what defense officials had asked for. But that extra money was cut out in final budget deliberations between the House and the Senate.

The House proposal would affect only military wages, but is often used as a guideline by Congress to set pay for civilian military employees and other government workers.

The House Armed Services Committee is expected to approve its final version of the fiscal 2008 budget bill next week, and the full House will likely vote on it later this month. Senate officials also are expected to begin deliberations sometime this month.

What the difference would be for you ...

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