Pay raise, COLA bills have bipartisan support

Mar 31, 2017

The likelihood of true, meaningful pay raises for state employees and cost-of-living adjustments for retirees got huge lifts this week when bills were filed for both with support of legislators on both sides of the aisle!

SEANC worked with Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake) to file House Bill 540 which would give all state employees and teachers with a base salary of less than $100,000 a year a pay increase of $2,400 this year. Three other Republicans, Reps. Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), John Bell (R-Craven) and John Hardister (R-Guilford) signed on as primary sponsors of the bill as well.

Reps. Mary Belk (D-Mecklenburg), Kevin Corbin (R-Cherokee) Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Pitt), Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), Robert Reives (D-Chatham), Michael Wray (D-Halifax) and Lee Zachary (R-Alexander) have all signed on as sponsors as well.

We appreciate Rep. Malone’s willingness to take a stand for state employees. It’s also encouraging to see these bills gain bipartisan support from legislators from all over the state. Clearly, they recognize that state employees are hurting and have been left behind by the recent economic recovery. One-in-three state employees make less than $31,000 annually, and both active and retired employees have 10 percent of their buying power since 2010.

An equal raise for all state employees – whether they work at our prisons, our schools, our hospitals or at any other state agency – is the only fair way to lift all boats. All state employees and teachers are going to be hit with higher premiums by the State Health Plan and face the same increases in the cost of goods and services. It’s only right that we should all receive the same raises.

Retiree COLA bills gain traction as well

SEANC also worked with Rep. Jordan to file a bill for state retirees this week that has gained bipartisan support. House Bill 497 would grant a 2-percent cost-of-living adjustment for all state retirees this year. Reps. Malone, Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) and Larry Strickland (R- Johnston) signed on as primary sponsors for this bill, and 22 representatives have signed on as secondary sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

This is a similar bill to one in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Joyce Waddell (D-Mecklenburg) and co-sponsored by Sens. Don Davis (D-Pitt) and Erica Smith-Ingram (D-Northampton). At a press conference for that bill, Senate Bill 314, SEANC Retiree Council Chairman Benny Brigman spoke out on the need for a COLA this year, saying state retirees face a choice each month on what they can afford. "As a retired state employee, sometimes it gets pretty tough on what's getting paid and what's not getting paid," he said.

Both the pay raise and the retiree COLA issues will be decided when the state budget is approved. The unofficial deadline for approval is July 1, when the new fiscal year starts.

Lobby Day a huge success! 

More than 150 members visit legislature

SEANC members showed up in full force on Wednesday to lobby legislators for better pay, health care and retirement benefits for state employees and retirees. The members spoke at length to many key legislators, and then packed the gallery of the House Chamber as session began.

House Speaker Tim Moore acknowledged SEANC members by extending “courtesies to the gallery” for those in attendance, which was by then a sea of SEANC blue!

Click the video above for a recap of the day’s events.