The White House unveiled its defense budget proposal for fiscal 2024, which includes a 3.2% increase for military operations, making it the largest pay raise for service members in 22 years. The proposed $842 billion spending plan also aims to provide increased support for military families, including increases in allowances and the expansion of community-based child care fee assistance.
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Under the proposal, military pay would increase by 5.2% next year, the largest boost since 2002. This would mean about $1,600 more in take-home pay for junior enlisted troops and about $2,900 more for senior enlisted and junior officers. For an O-4 with 12 years of service, it would be over $5,400 in extra pay in 2023.
However, critics have argued that the seemingly generous pay boosts do not factor in the higher costs of household goods and fuel, which can significantly impact military families. Inflation rates soared about 8% at various points last year.
The budget proposal also includes increases to the basic allowance for housing and the newly created basic needs allowance, which gives extra monthly pay to junior-ranking troops with large families. It also aims to expand community-based child care fee assistance and reduce parent fees for child care workers to recruit and retain staff.
Congressional critics have vowed to re-examine all military pay this year, particularly the rates for junior enlisted members. Whether this will impact the fiscal 2024 budget debate or the fiscal 2025 discussion remains to be seen.
Overall, the proposed defense budget aims to enable the country to keep pace with national security threats. The Biden administration’s commitment to increasing military pay and supporting military families is a positive step towards ensuring the well-being of service members and their families.
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