A pay freeze in effect since last September for federal court employees have the prospect of raises and has been lifted in the face of a better-than-expected 2012 appropriation. But federal judge pay continues to be frozen at 2009 levels, the last time a cost-of-living adjustment was granted. Michigan's state judges can identify with that predicament, and then some. Their pay hasn't been increased for more than a decade, and many have seen their benefits decreased during the same period.
Federal employees would be wise not to bank on increased compensation, however. The memo from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announcing the lifting of the ban urged "great caution" about increased expenditures. Although the 2012 appropriation to the courts is approximately 4% greater than the interim fiscal year 2012 financial plan, it is approximately 5% less than fiscal year 2011. 2013 is expected to be another "difficult" budget year.