And before you say "cognitive dissonance," they know exactly what they're doing:
Just minutes after approving two tax cut bills that will cost the state more than $150 million in the next fiscal year, Senate lawmakers argued the state can't afford to give its retirees a permanent cost-of-living increase.
State retirees haven’t had a substantial cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, since before the recession, and House Bill 231 wouldn't change that. Instead, it’s a one-time bonus of 0.5 percent this fall and again in 2020. About 216,000 retired workers are in the state's defined retirement system. Their average pension is only about $21,000, so the bonus works out to about $105 each year. The cost of the bonus is about $25.5 million per year.
Both of those numbers are averaged, which means a whole bunch of people make less, and their bonus will also be less. And just so we're clear about the time frame, "before the recession" means 12 years ago. Just looking at inflation alone, what cost $1.00 in 2009 costs $1.20 in 2019. A 20% increase in costs to retirees that Republicans have ignored, while passing multiple tax cuts. They say those tax cuts will (and have) increased revenues, and yet here we are 12 years later with no COLAs for these folks who served our state dutifully. The word "shameful" doesn't cover it.
It's not only Republicans
Democrats have not fought for retiree benefits either. Of course, with the GOP in total control for six years, and at least able to block bills they opposed for three more and counting, they were the driving force in not providing any COLA increases. Another problem rests with retirees not making an issue of this in election campaigns, and the only organization representing retirees seeming toothless in advocating for increases.
With over 200,000 people of voting age who have a high percentage who vote in every election, they could make a bigger impact. The same goes for active state employees, many who consistently vote for representatives that call them over paid and useless. And a SEANC that seems afraid of the legislature. They need to start making raises an issue, because while COLAs affect your retirement checks, your salary does too. And every year you get a one time bonus, vacation days, or nothing at all instead of an actual pay raise, you get less money when you retire. Start voting for your best interest, not that of Duke Power and Bank of America. And let the candidates know that.