INSIDE NCRGEA’s Advocacy Goals

Spring 2024 Living Power Magazine

NC Legislature

Each year, NCRGEA develops a set of legislative or advocacy goals that guide the work of the Association in the General Assembly and with the Pension Systems’ Board of Trustees.

“While we don’t have a formal process for gathering information from our members, an important part of this process is listening to what our members say,” said Linda Suggs, chairperson of NCRGEA’s Government Relations Committee.
This input, combined with advice from the Association’s lobbyists, is the basis for the initial draft of the annual goals.

“Our lobbyists give the Government Relations Committee a draft of goals based on the key issues the General Assembly will be dealing with in the up-coming session,” explained Suggs. “We take a hard look at those, review what our members have said, and then forward to the Executive Committee a second draft. They edit that if they see fit, and forward their draft to the Board of Directors for final approval.”

Each member of NCRGEA’s Board is a retired state or local government employee, and they, like its members, are concerned about having a strong, stable pension system that its members can count on. “NCRGEA does not rank its goals, but getting a true COLA for state and local government retirees is always its number one priority,” says Suggs. “Keeping the pension system strong is right behind it.”

NCRGEA has many active programs and processes in place to achieve its annual goals, but to be even more effective, the Association needs the voice of its members to be heard in the General Assembly.

“We really need our members to be involved with the issues we are trying to achieve,” said Suggs. “One of the most important things is, they have to know who their representatives are. You’d be surprised at how many people can’t tell you who represents them in the General Assembly. On the NCRGEA webpage under the “Advocacy” tab, there is the “Find my NC Legislator” link to give you that information.

The second thing is, meet them. When they’re campaigning, go and meet them, listen to what they are saying, ask questions and get to know them. Politics is all about relationships. Develop relationships early so that when crunch time comes, you can call on them, and they will know who you are.”

“Third, use the tools on NCRGEA’s website, such as FastDemocracy. This tool puts all the information you need about your legislators at your fingertips, including their voting history and the committees they serve on. The better you know your legislators, the more confidently and effectively you can discuss issues with them.”


FastDemocracy also helps NCRGEA mobilize its members with “call for action” messages. “When the Association sends a call for action, open up the email,” stressed Suggs. “It will have a message that NCRGEA has crafted on the specific issue. You can personalize it if you want, but you don’t have to. Just fill in the box with your name and email address, hit “send,” and it will automatically go to your representative in the General Assembly. It’s that easy.

“For NCRGEA members, one of the most important races is the race for State Treasurer,” says Suggs. “Our state is one of only three states where the State Treasurer has total control on how the money in our pension funds is handled. We need to know what candidates’ top priorities would be if elected.

  • What they would do to make possible a COLA or bonus for members of TSERS and LGERS on a regular basis?
  • How they will protect and strengthen the pension system?

These are important questions for our next State Treasurer.

Lastly, be the first to congratulate the winner, even if you didn’t vote for them. Whether you voted for the winner or not, that person now will represent you in the General Assembly!

NCRGEA Advocacy Goals

1. Advocate for annual cost of living adjustments for all state and local government retirees.

2. Strengthen and protect the state’s defined benefit plan to attract and retain the best and brightest public servants.

3. Defend public sector benefits so all public sector retirees can participate in traditional retirement systems.

4. Ensure the State of North Carolina will continue to fulfill its constitutional and legal requirements to fully fund North Carolina Retirement Systems and the State Health Plan.

5. Expand the Bailey tax exemption to all state and local retirees and pursue other tax exemption opportunities for government retirees.

For more information
on NCRGEA’s advocacy goals and how to assist the Association in obtaining them, watch our February 7 Lunch and Learn webinar on our YouTube channel.

NCRGEA Lunch and Learn Webinar: February 2024

February 7 @ 12:30 pm 1:30 pm

Free virtual webinar Lunch & Learn Series: “NCRGEA’s Advocacy Priorities for 2024.” 

Registration by Friday | February 2 is required for this FREE event. Click the Register Now button at the top.

If you have any questions, please email or phone 919.834.4652 or 800.356.1190.

Previous NCRGEA Lunch and Learn Series recordings can be found on our YouTube channel.

(919) 834-4652

View Organizer Website


Changing the General Assembly Takes Time and Patience: How You Can Help

NC Legislative Building
The General Assembly meets biennially and all members are elected for two-year terms. The House consists of 120 members and the Senate has 50 members. It meets in the North Carolina Legislative Building, shown here, located at 16 West Jones St., in Raleigh.

Congratulations! You are a member of the largest association of retired government professionals in the United States. Now more than a half century old, we were then, and are today, the primary voice and advocate for North Carolina’s local and state governmental retired public servants.

As you may well remember, when we founded in 1972, our country was headed into troublesome times. Gas prices and inflation were gearing up for history making highs, we were fiercely engaged in the Cold War, and societal unease was tense across the country. Yet we remained focused on our purpose: you.

Fast forward to today, and while the past may be prologue, our focus remains the same: you.

What does that mean for you? In addition to our life impacting benefits, we have a daily presence at the North Carolina General Assembly, boards of trustees overseeing our retirement systems, and other bodies relevant to retiree matters. Our bipartisan, four member lobbyist team and NCRGEA executive leadership work with elected and appointed officials, fighting to protect the quality of life that you rightfully earned.

As our purpose is you, you are what matters most to our elected officials. You are the constituent, the fellow church member, the neighbor our elected officials are charged to serve. You are also the women and men who are the girders of a safe, well educated, prosperous, and clean North Carolina. You kept our roads maintained, educated our children, put the bad guys away, helped people in perilous times, and made our environment safe. You are, truly, the backbone of what is today one of the most desirous states to live, work, and play.

With the NCRGEA, you have a family of almost 67,000 fellow retired public servants. We are mighty in scope and in size, and can have a unified, bellowing voice with our elected officials. We look forward to continuing to serve you and fight for your quality of life.

Our elected officials need to know you. Here is how you can better engage in the legislative process as a retiree advocate; click below to download or enlarge the infographic:

Letter to the Editor | State government retirees drowning in inflation

Tim O’Connell, Executive Director, North Carolina Retired Governmental Employees Association – March 9, 2023

More than 320,000 local and state government retirees are drowning in inflation. With a likely probability of another multi-billion-dollar surplus for the state, it’s time to do the right thing and provide inflation-fighting cost-of-living adjustments for these dedicated women and men.

The fact that everything costs more today is common knowledge. Over the past decade, individual purchasing power has declined by 29 percent. The basket of basic goods bought 10 years ago for $100 now costs $129. During this same period, cost-of-living adjustments totaled just 2 percent for state retirees and less than 1 percent for local government retirees.

This widening gap of lack of cost-of-living adjustments related to inflation hurts not only the retirees but the entire North Carolina economy. This is particularly true in North Carolina’s rural counties, where a higher percentage of retired public servants live compared to urban counties.

And yet retirees are good for the state’s economy. The National Institute of Retirement Security reports that in North Carolina, public pensioners support more than 49,477 jobs across all 100 counties and across a breadth of industries, from hospitality to healthcare to real estate. The value of this to the North Carolina economy is $8.1 billion a year and excludes the $1.2 billion this group pays in taxes to the state and federal government. The continued stagnation of cost-of-living adjustments will reduce this impact if not addressed.

While retirees remain grateful for the one-time bonuses the North Carolina General Assembly and Retirement System Trustees have provided over the past decade, such appreciated efforts will not abate the issue of short and long-term inflation. With the average retirement payment of approximately $1,650 monthly for retired public servants and the current 29 percent reduction in buying power adjusted for inflation, North Carolina has not seen this significant disparity in nearly 50 years.

Public sector retirees are forced to make hard decisions at the grocery store and at the pharmacy, and some struggle to maintain their own homes. Governmental retirees are our neighbors, friends, and parents. They educated our children, maintained our roads, cared for our loved ones, provided our families with clean drinking water, and were the first responders who put in long and often dangerous hours to keep our communities safe.

As we look at ways to bolster the resiliency of the North Carolina economy, serious consideration must be given to how it can be done in a way that provides dignity and quality of life to governmental retirees. As our legislators and elected officials make decisions in what is projected as another year of surplus revenues, they cannot forget our retired public servants.