6:00: Morning News

State retirees to rally this week at capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Leaders with the coalition of retired state workers are back at the capitol in Charleston trying to convince lawmakers to look their way.

The Coalition of Retired Public Employees (CORPE) President Ernie “Spud” Terry said there are key needs the retirees are looking for and it’s always a struggle to be heard. He’s most annoyed by the fact other segments of public retirees have different sets of rules.

“We just feel like we’re all the same class, we’re all public employees and we’re treated differently,” Terry said last week on MetroNews Talkline. “It’s obviously discrimination and it’s been going on for so long, I term it to be persecution.”

The top item on the retirees’ agenda for 2015 is an increase in the tax exemption on their pension.  Presently only $2,000 is exempt from taxes out of the pension and that exemption goes away at age 65. Terry said other groups have a full tax exemption or a much higher threshold.

As usual, a cost of living adjustment or any pension increase would be welcomed.

“Several years ago our retirees that were age 70 received a three percent bump in their pension,” Terry said. “Those people who have reached that milestone of 70 since then have not gotten anything.”

Terry said they aren’t asking for a retroactive raise, but want everyone in their class to be increased in what is already a meager pension.

“Active employees get a longevity-type salary, we would like to convert that to retirees,” Terry said. “They’ve been retired a long time on the same nickel on which they retired.”

Terry will lead a rally of state employees on Tuesday at the capitol. He’s hoping to attract the attention of lawmakers and members of the Board of Public Works to keep their fight in front of decision makers.

Retirees will gather at 8 a.m. in the capitol cafeteria.

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