BHA

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by AF6872, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Senator John McCain is now supporting a Senate Bill to cut BHA for married military members to only one spouse allowance. So now if you only live together you each get BHA but if you are married you get a penalty. Four guys living in an apartment get full BHA but two married military get theirs cut ???
     
  2. CaliNavyMom

    CaliNavyMom Member

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    Honestly why they need 2500 EACH is beyond me. I know a couple that was in Hawaii that received almost 3000 each. But the reasoning I believe is that if not married, they aren't legally responsible for each other. If married they are.
     
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  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    This proposal happened a year or two originally. I believe we had a thread even on it with posters who were on each side of the fence.
     
  4. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    To the OP, last I had checked, the current proposal included not just dual military couples living in the same household but also service members who were roommates would take a hit to BAH. How that last part would ever 100% be enforced, beats me, and seems like it would be more trouble for finance than its worth but its there.

    As for the question about whether or not dual military should take this cut, I'm against it for a number of reasons, and not just because my husband and I will be impacted by this if it passes whenever the Army decides to post us to the same location, not that that will be for a while and in the end, if this does pass, it won't be a deal breaker for us. We love our jobs too much for the foreseeable future to think about leaving over this.

    The main argument I've heard against dual military receiving double BAH is that it is an allowance, it was not originally passed as an entitlement although at this point is very much treated as such by the majority of the force. Therefore, the government argues it can do what it wants with this program in the effort to save money. What this fails to take into account is the fact that the total compensation package the military publicizes to demonstrate military pay competitiveness to the civilian market includes BAH. Makes sense seeing as civilian pay in an area will be compensated for living costs. Its expected that your pay will cover your living expenses to include rent and utilities. If it doesn't, you need to find another job or downgrade your cost of living expenses you're expecting. Many service members choose to rent/buy housing that costs less than what they are paid monthly for BAH, pocketing the rest as money to use for whatever else they want. Therefore, I think there's an argument that its evolved past the original allowance as it was seen and has moved into your basic compensation for the job you're performing. If both military members are performing their job, they are both earning their own compensation, just like if both worked in the civilian sector and earned their own pay. Treating dual military as a "two for one" deal in this way does not come across fair or proper.

    Second, this will hurt retention rates within dual military couples. It's already hard enough to balance two careers in the military. Lining up time lines and duty stations requires quite a bit of finesse, patience, and willingness to be away from each other for extended periods of time when it doesn't happen, and this isn't including the normal deployment cycle that all military families endure. There's also a general lack of adequate childcare services on military posts (at least in the Army) to take care of the volume of children dual working (not just dual military) spouses need assistance with day to day. I know many couples who use their BAH not just to cover their housing/utilities but the additional childcare expenses they run into having both service members working odd hours.

    Third, when you look at who this will impact, statistics show that there are more dual military enlisted personnel compared to officers. BAH makes up a greater percentage of an enlisted personnel's monthly pay; therefore they stand to lose a greater amount of their compensation for their work percentage wise than officers. Doesn't make sense to me that you're going to impact the pockets of those that already make less and work just as hard as the officer types and who we as officers are supposed to be taking care of. Additionally, in a dual military couple, statistically, it trends that the woman will be lower ranking and will be the person to lose their BAH. Plenty of people I know are complaining that this will come across discriminatory based on gender because of this.

    Finally, the amount of savings that this will actually save is ridiculously small. Go fix a fraction of the acquisitions and R&D process and the military will come off much, much better than following this course of action. Unfortunately, because it is such a small population this will end up impacting overall, there's not necessarily going to be enough voices piping up to tell their senators to stop it from happening. I think the President has already displayed his dislike for this version so we'll see what happens.

    So in the end, will this cause me to leave the Army? No, and same for my husband. That doesn't mean that either of us think its fair or should happen. Pay us the same as any other Soldier and let us do our job. If you want to really make it fair, use a system similar to what happens to living off post OCONUS across the board. Essentially, you're told what a limit to what you can pay for rent/utilities, but you are only compensated for what you actually end up spending on rent (up to that limit). If you spend under that, you don't keep the difference like you do CONUS with the current BAH system. As someone who is pocketing more than half her BAH a month by being smart, living with roommates, and not spending a crazy amount on rent, this would be a sad change of affairs, but really would ultimately save the government money long term and not come off discriminatory like the current proposal does.
     
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  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Limiting to actual expenses will require more admin work from an already short staffed finance squadron, and will prompt service members to seek the most expensive housing options covered by BAH. In short, it will cause so much admin work that it will outweigh any savings gained (especially after people realize they should live in the nicest place BAH will cover).
     
  6. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Fair points, logistics are always the challenge but I'm not sure that targeting a smaller population because its easier is the right way to go. After the start up and getting the necessary infrastructure in place to run such a system, I also don't think the admin would be un-doable although there would definitely be growing pains as with any kind of change.

    It's interesting because there has also been language in the bill to incorporate this kind of change along with knocking the dual military BAH so we might end up seeing one way or another if the military could support this change. Hopefully they'll figure it out without messing with too many people's finances. Either way, I still have my helicopter to go fly, right? :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
  7. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Maybe the admin will get sorted out...but have you looked around lately? The .gov isn't exactly efficient!
    The bigger thing, is even without the admin issue, the .gov won't save much. If they are going to cover up to $1500/mo (random number), I'm going to go find a place for $1499/mo, with utilities included...and so will most others. Right now, we just get to decide how to spend it.
     
  8. Day-Tripper

    Day-Tripper Member

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    Recent News Updates On This Issue:

    http://www.dailyrepublic.com/news/military/house-senate-conferees-to-negotiate-key-benefit-changes/

    Basic Allowance for Housing

    The Senate supports two substantial BAH “reforms.” It would dampen payments stateside to members who are married or share housing off base. It would cap payments to the lesser of what individuals actually pay to rent or the local BAH maximum for their rank and family status. House is silent on these. The White House opposes them.

    http://www.breitbart.com/national-s...d-senate-seeks-trim-troops-housing-allowance/

    A proposal tucked deep inside the Senate’s draft of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), currently being debated on Capitol Hill, seeks to radically reform the U.S. troops’ Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), arguing that “the benefit now far exceeds the actual cost.”

    http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2016/08/the-wrong-way-to-reduce-military-compensation-000179

    This year, the Senate and House versions of the National Defense Authorization Act are full of reform initiatives, such as reductions in the number of general officers and the creation of an under secretary of defense for research and engineering. Some are good, some are bad and some are downright ugly. Perhaps the most misguided proposal with the greatest potential for unintended consequences comes from the Senate, which wants to change the military’s basic allowance for housing.

    The proposed change sounds perfectly reasonable on the surface. Currently, service members receive an allowance for housing based on their rank, location and dependents without regard for how much they actually spend on housing. If they find a place for less than the allowance, they get to keep the difference. The proposed change would limit the housing allowance to what service members actually spend. Seems fair, right? This is the way the housing allowance currently works for service members stationed overseas.

    But if one stops to think through this proposal, several issues emerge. The most obvious problem is the behavior this change would incentivize. Consider a first lieutenant with no dependents who currently rents an apartment in the Washington, D.C., area with two other people. She currently receives a housing allowance of $2,241 per month, but because she’s living with roommates, her share of the rent might only be $1200. With this change, she would no longer get to keep the $1041 difference. So what incentive would she have to economize and live with roommates? Why not get her own place—or move with her roommates to a larger, more luxurious apartment with better amenities—and use the full amount of the benefit? Under the change proposed by the Senate, the housing allowance would become a use-it-or-lose-it benefit.




    My own note: The Senate bill passed 85-13, so it had broad support among both parties. The White House (not often accused of being more pro-military than the GOP-majority Senate) opposes the changes to BAH. The House is ignoring the issue , hoping that the White House & Senate hash out a compromise of some kind. And how often can you find Politico & Breitbart posting Op-Eds that take the same side of an issue?????
     
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  9. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Totally agree with what you're saying that this would be the eventual progression (and would be my behavior) and the article Day-Tripper grabbed supports this idea, but what about then readjusting BAH to better match rent in an area and incentivizing roommates? Current O1 BAH here in the lovely state of AL comes out to just under $1000 without any dependents. I can rent a three bedroom house down here for that rate off post by myself (in a good area and close to the gate), not even taking the roommates into account as we split our rent and would still be able to cover my utilities. Granted, cost of living here is ridiculously cheap compared to other areas (i.e. Hawaii, DC), but it makes you wonder if there's that much room to spare, what would happen if they recalculated the caps they're giving. I for sure do not need that much space if I was living on my own but then again, I don't have any good answers. Just playing devil's advocate here and curious about your thoughts.
     
  10. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Looking at this from an entirely different perspective. I spoke to a housing advocate the other day, they work near a Naval Air Station here in Wa. She has been following this debate from a civilian perspective. Right now rents are kept competitive in this area because the large number of military members still look for the best price because they have the option to save money. She says that if this change in BAH goes through eliminating the current full amount for each service member, the local landlords will now be able to set their to meet the maximum BAH since there would be no incentive to find a cheaper place.

    Her position is that this will become a burden on the local civilians looking to rent because the landlords will be setting rates to align with the BAH, thus raising the average local rent.

    Add to this the fact that units that are really only worth the lower rent would rise to meet BAH levels, bottom line is that they will be paying much more for less.
     
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  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Not sure I agree. If there's still demand but the price is too high for the local civilian population, the price will come down to meet the demand. Landlords will continue to weigh the rights of a service member to break a lease (and that can hurt an income stream).
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Let's say my work will supplement my travel to the office each day. They will pay up to $200 a month. My travel, via rail, only costs $150. I could drive to a more distant station to make it $200. I could lie (and risk losing my job) and say it costs me $200, when I'm actually pocketing $50... Because I want to decide how to use it.

    My work tells me the money is for my commute, from my starting station to the end of the line.

    Now, why would I assume I'm owed that additional $50... Just because?

    Hint: I'm not.
     
  13. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    You're right, and what better way to mitigate that risk then to raise the rents to match the maximum BAH allowed.

    You're not, but then again nobody is talking about travel pay.

    Bottom line is that it comes down to how the BAH payment is presented, as an allotment intended to cover exact expenses, or as a set amount as part of the service member's compensation package. Right now it is sold as part of the compensation package and considered by service members as part of their pay package. For most service members, those that live alone or are married to non military, this won't really be an issue. It will simply mean they will find the house or apartment that uses the maximum amount of their BAH and move on, and if they were depending on the difference they used to keep as part of their salary then they'll just start looking for civilian work sooner when their obligation is over.

    One question about this new program, many would rent or buy a place where their payments were lower then the BAH by a bit so they could use the rest for utilities. How will that be factored in, and how much will the military spend on the new department that will be needed to implement and handle this new program.
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Correct. In fact no one is talking about PAY at all. We're talking allowances... For what? For housing.

    Not "get a new car" or "start a 401(k)" or "buy an engagement ring" or "buy the next round of drinks for the buddies."
     
  15. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe Member

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    Well, not everyone is talking allowance or it wouldn't be an issue.

    Recruiters don't sell it as an allowance, most in the service don't see it as an allowance, they sell it and see it as as an allotment. Can they change it mid stream, sure, does everyone have to feel all warm and fuzzy about it, no, they are free to make the decision to stay or jump ship after their original obligation.
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Sure they can change it mid-stream.... and they SHOULD. There is not a person here who doesn't know that two people in a house does not equal 2x the price of a single-occupant house. There is a person here who has served who hasn't thought (or executed) a "I'll pick somewhere cheap so I can pocket more tax-free money" move.

    For the service members who contend that this is how it is in the civilian or private sector world.... it's not. Not at all.
     
  17. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Let's build more good base housing for Enlisted, NCO's and Officers. That would fix the problem but what would it cost and where would they put the new housing? When I was on a training base they almost made us get off to make room for TDY students. Eighty five dollars a month for each was big time for rent in those days. Two NCO's with $170 could get a nice place and we picked the best place even though it cost us more than bha allowcation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    My buddy has to use base housing in Kodiak as an O-4.... That blows me away. Why, because they have to fill them up after building them even if there's more appropriate housing outside the gates.
     
  19. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    But your base salary in the civilian world in going to be adjusted to the market you're working in to compensate you for your housing/utility expenses, would it not? I could get the same type job in Boston as I could in Montgomery and I'll be making more in Boston, not because I'm a better worker by living in MA, but because cost of living is higher there.


    Then on the flip side, there's no wait list down here and empty housing, but they decided with the privatized on-post housing down here at Rucker to open up the open space to retirees/DOD civilians instead of forcing us to use housing on post. The government decisions sometimes blow my mind. That right there could be saved money. If we've built the housing, probably should be using it for its intended purpose...
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Some jobs have an adjustment based on location, based on a percentage of your salary. It's also taxed and doesn't increase with dependents.

    Some jobs don't.

    Maybe they should just ditch the tax free BAH and do something like that? Get ready for the rude awakening of a 100% of your paycheck being taxed.

    Stop BAH and dependent pay and make locality factored in as a percentage of the base salary?

    And you're not talking about "government decisions," you're talking about military decisions...
     

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