News & Observer
Fourteen former state lawmakers, including a U.S. congressman and a former state auditor, could see their retirement pay increase up to 88 percent if a pending bill becomes law.
The estimated cost to taxpayers could be as much as $2.1 million.
The big winner appears to be N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Bob Hunter, who could see about $39,000 more each year. The runners-up are Buncombe Superior Court Judge Dennis Winner, who could see a jump of about $21,500, and former state Sen. James Richard Conder, D-Richmond County, who could get $20,000.
The 14 were excluded three years ago when legislators beefed up retirement pay for colleagues who had also been state employees or judges at least five years.
Lawmakers have their own retirement system, but it is the least lucrative of the state's three plans, which include one for state employees and teachers and another for judges.
Lawmakers, by transferring their years as part-time public servants to one of the other retirement plans, reaped thousands.
The new bill would allow the 14 people to get on board if they return legislative retirement pay they've already gotten. Despite the repayments, taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $2 million.
Former five-term Rep. Ruth E. Cook, a Raleigh Democrat, says she lobbied lawmakers to introduce the bill because she believes it is not fair that she and the 13 others are being excluded. "We're being penalized," Cook said last week.
Seems to me that life ain't fair.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," said former state Rep. Judy Frances Hunt, a Watauga County Democrat and former utilities commissioner.
While aware of the issue, Hunt said, "I never really worked on it because I felt so grateful for being a commissioner. I couldn't imagine asking legislators to do anything more for me." She added: "I was just grateful to get the retirement I was getting."
This is what a good public servant should say.