Letter to the General Assembly
Dear Sirs and Mesdames:
The Professional Educators of North Carolina (PENC) urges the North Carolina General Assembly to reconsider the law taking away health benefits upon retirement from new hires to the state of North Carolina.
PENC cares greatly about our educators and their future. As the state continues to grow, North Carolina is going to need more young adults to consider education as a career. Without their interest, North Carolina school systems will struggle to keep class size small and meet the current class size mandates. The sacrifice that one must give on the salary front is certainly not attractive when one considers education as a profession, and removing health benefits upon retirement will only detract more from considering education as a career.
Our students deserve the best and brightest to educate them, and PENC hopes the North Carolina General Assembly will consider repealing the law they passed two sessions ago that removes health insurance as a retirement benefit starting in 2021 for new hires that will serve the state of North Carolina.
PENC and all education groups have heard the reasoning for the law change, and though the arguments may look good on paper, they will hurt families later in life when they will most likely need health insurance. We have heard that the millennial generation does not care about health benefits, and that they are not likely to stay the course and complete a thirty year career.
I dare say most of us thought very little about health insurance in our twenties, but one will certainly consider its merits in their fifties and beyond. Furthermore, if the millennial generation is not planning to stay the course, why would the state exacerbate the situation and make it easier for them to consider another path? Again, PENC encourages the state of North Carolina to do all it can to encourage the best and the brightest to consider being an educator.
Finally, there is the issue of the unfunded liability of the State Health Plan, and how retirees/non-Medicare members impacts that number. That brings us to our final point. On paper, taking away the benefit might look good, but how does it impact real families. Referencing movies is often not the best decision when writing because the reader may miss the idea, but I think one can understand the point we are getting ready to make even if you have not watched the movie Christmas Vacation.
When Clark Griswold received a jelly of the month club membership as opposed to a Christmas bonus, it looked great on paper to his boss. However, when Cousin Eddie brought to the boss’s attention how his decision impacted real families, it no longer appeared so attractive. That is again why we implore the General Assembly to reconsider the law and pass repeal legislation.
PENC not only prioritizes teacher recruitment/retention, but also gives thoughtful consideration to loyal state employed educators who “stay the course” and find themselves uninsured upon retirement. These retirees will not qualify for Medicaid, and they will be more than a decade away from receiving Medicare while not being able to afford a private health insurance plan. Undoubtedly, this would cause a great struggle for many hard-working families that diligently served the state to educate our youth and prepare them for their future.
PENC thanks our legislators for what they do, and we know you have to make many tough decisions. We hope you will take another look at this law, and consider making a change.
Groups in Support of this Consideration
North Carolina Science Leaders Association
North Carolina Science Teachers Association
North Carolina School Counselors Association
The Exceptional Children's Assistance Center- ECAC Parent Center
NC Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities
North Carolina Agriculture Teachers Association