To the editor:
I just read the article in the Jan. 29 issue of The Courier-Times about Mark Robinson, Republican candidate for North Carolina Lieutenant Governor. I have a bone to pick with him. His focus on eliminating the state income tax on veteran pensions is shortsighted. His proposal should be to eliminate the income tax on the pensions of all public servants in North Carolina. I’m the federal co-chair of The 4th Branch (for more information go to www.4thbranchnc.org), a statewide group seeking to eliminate pensions for all military and federal, state and local civilian employees. These good people have sacrificed greater opportunities in the private sector for the greater public good. We haven’t rewarded them while they’ve worked; let’s reward them in retirement. It’s time the North Carolina General Assembly (and the statewide officers) stepped up to the plate.
Currently, any retired public servant in North Carolina who had five years of vested service before Aug. 12, 1989 has no tax on his/her pension. The 4th Branch is fighting to extend the benefit to all those workers who were not vested. The settlement that established the relief, known as the Bailey settlement, resulted from court cases and General Assembly action more than 20 years ago. There’s now a bill in the Senate, S188, that would support only military veterans. Well, we have a bill in the House, H213 (primary sponsor Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow) that would remedy this injustice for all public servants, military included. This is the bill that should be supported. Since Bailey, many hardworking public servants – military, federal, state, local – have had or will have to watch as their fellows enjoy not paying state income tax. That’s completely unfair. Is it fair for a working state trooper who today puts his/her life on the line to know he/she will have to continue the sacrifice in retirement? What about the firefighter? The local agricultural extension agent? The accountant in the Social Security Office?
Mr. Robinson, as a veteran I salute you for wanting to support us, but you need to think about the other hardworking public servants who work to make our lives better. They sacrificed while they worked; let’s not make them have to do so in their golden years.