LETTER TO THE EDITOR: State employees deserve a COLA

Published 11:24 am Friday, July 9, 2021

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We live in a great state that continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the United States.

The retired and current public employees of our state have never been highly paid employees. They do, however, have a pension that they paid into while they were employed and were told would be available to them upon their retirement.

Active public employees usually get some type of COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) every year. Our retired local public employees have received less than 1 percent COLA since 2008. Our retired state public employees have received only 3 percent since 2008. These retirees (both local and state) helped to make our state great during their working years.

The North Carolina Senate budget writers released their 2021 biennium budget over two weeks ago. This budget included a seven percent increase in spending over the next two years but no increase for local, county or state retirees. The state has never been in a better financial position to fund a recurring adjustment.

There is currently a massive $6 billion surplus that could help the state provide for both active and retired public employees.

Although the Senate’s budget does not include a COLA for any public retiree, there is still hope. House budget writers are currently working on their version of the 2021-2023 budget. There are currently two House Bills (HB 269 and HB 583) that provide for a COLA for both local and state public retirees. Please call your House member (Wayne Sasser or Ben Moss) and ask them both to support these two bills.

The value of the retired public servants in our great state has never been as important as it is now. The monetary value of their pension continues to drop as inflation is here, has been here for a while and does not appear to be lowering in the future.

Costs of food, fuel, medicine and other commodities continue to rise, and the dollar just does not buy what it used to purchase…costs keep rising and the pension is the same.

Please help take care of more than 300,000 public retirees who gave their all to make our state great.

These public employees are your family members, your neighbors, your former teachers. Call your House member today and ask him to support these two bills and include a COLA in their budget.

Martha Sue Hall

Vice President
North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees’ Association