Statement from Ardis Watkins on the General Assembly's budget proposal

Jun 28, 2022

The following is a statement from SEANC Executive Director Ardis Watkins on the General Assembly’s budget proposal:

SEANC calls on Governor Cooper to veto this budget and send it back to the General Assembly. It’s time to do better by state employees and retirees.

Employers in North Carolina and all around the country are responding to their staff shortages by increasing pay and benefits in order to be competitive in the market. The State of North Carolina has record staff vacancy rates but the legislature is choosing to hoard money rather than give state employees reason to stay.

Budgets are always about priorities. This budget shows state employees and retirees that they are not a priority. So why would they stay?

The General Assembly should have shown its employees that it values them and the services they provide to taxpayers. It should have remembered retirees (who have not gotten a COLA in years) in a meaningful way.

When times have been bad in North Carolina, state employees were told to wait until the good times and they would be appreciated. The times have never been better, but the appreciation is not there.

This would be the time to say “thank you” to state employees. Thank you for coming to work every single day during COVID. Thank you for leaving your families at home in a Hurricane to put our roads back together. Thank you for taking care of people who society leaves behind. Thank you for making North Carolina a beautiful and efficient place where businesses choose to locate.

State employees will continue to go to work tomorrow no matter what the legislature and Governor do with this budget. We will protect citizens from harm, we will fix roads after storms, we will provide care for the most vulnerable in our population, we will make sure North Carolina continues to be the best that it can be. That’s what we do. But the sad truth is that economic realities are forcing even the most dedicated employees to leave.

It is shameful that state employees and retirees are not appreciated the way they appreciate their State and the North Carolinians they serve.