North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees’ Association Message from Your NCRGEA President March 27, 2020
What a difference a day makes.
When I wrote my president’s message earlier this year, little did we know of the looming COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented blow to our public health, state and national economies. It feels like our entire world shifted in a day.
It did. We’re now deeply into the “new normal.” The reality of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our state, and on every one of us. For most of us who are quarantined, we’re missing our friends and neighbors, children and grandchildren. Loneliness can be a fatal verdict; I worry for my friends who are isolated and may be struggling to cope.
While these days are bleak, there will come a day that will make another difference: where life as we know it returns. We’re preparing for that day now. As we do so, our executive and legislative leadership must be reminded that We Still Matter. Public sector retirees are an economic buoy for our state.
And we will continue to be. While we earnestly realize that the state’s revenue losses will hinder many programs, initiatives and, quite frankly, hopes for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, we still need relief. Our contributions to our state and local economies have long been noted. We eat out, travel, shop and give, and we will do this all once again.
COVID-19 doesn’t negate our need for inflation fighting pension relief. Rather, the crisis intensifies how very important our contributions are to our national, state and local economies. So, NCRGEA is moving forward.
We are sensitive to the many great needs out there, especially for people who have lost jobs and income. It is important for you to know that what we will be asking for would be funded by gains in the retirement system and will not compete with funds in the General Fund that will be needed to help other NC workers. The modest ask we are making will contribute to NC’s economy and will not affect the unfunded liability of the retirement system. These are important things for you to know.
Our retirees have been ignored too long. We hate the timing, but their needs are important too and must be addressed.
I am comforted that our pension systems have not taken the hit our financial markets have. Conservative investment strategies, built to weather the worst, have kept our public pensions strong. We’re thankful to State Treasurer Dale Folwell for continuing to safeguard our pension system for current and future generations. Treasurer Folwell, as you may know, has been tested positive for coronavirus. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Expect to hear from us more as we come through this epidemic together. Take care of each other. Stay safe and well, and know we’re working for you.