Emerald Isle, N.C.
June 28, 2021
TO THE EDITOR:
Your Sunday (June 27) editorial had high praise for the budget passed by the NC Senate. And, while this spending plan does provide financial support for a number of programs that will benefit our state, the budget does not include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the almost 2700 state and local government retirees that call Carteret County home.
These pensioners provided all kinds of services to our state and local governments over their professional careers, taking salaries that were in many cases lower than the private sector but always believing they would be taken care of in retirement by the very state they served.
Many of these pensioners worked in dangerous positions in prisons and law enforcement. Other pensioners taught our children, worked in state hospitals, on our highways and in human service fields. Local government pensioners provided services through counties and cities that literally kept the wheels of local government turning. Statewide there are over 300,000 of us who spent our professional careers serving this state.
Since 2008, inflation has eaten away about 20% of our retirement value. Over that same 13-year time frame, NC has provided a total of 3% in COLA adjustments for state government pensioners while local government retirees have received less than a 1% increase.
Living up to the promise made to government workers is not a gift; it is a requirement of state government to take care of those who took care of the state over their careers. Those very same people who helped the state get into a strong financial position would now like for state government to use some of those funds to help pensions recover some of the value lost since the 2008 recession.
Living up to that promise also makes good sense if state and local governments want to continue to recruit and retain high quality personnel. And finally, exactly where would the state have been without its dedicated public servants during this pandemic?
Frankly, the state has never been in a better financial position to help retirees and make good on its promise and that begs the question, if not now, when?
I hope that Representative McElraft will work to get her House colleagues to remember local and state pensioners in their version of the budget.