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State retirees rally in Charleston

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By Shauna Johnson 
WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Retired public employees and teachers will be at the State Capitol on Thursday morning, pushing for two pieces of legislation that those with the Coalition of Retired Public Employees say are long overdue.

“It’s a matter of priorities,” said Ernie “Spud” Terry, CORPE spokesperson, who was helping organize the annual event to build support for the group’s legislative causes.

Again this year, group members are asking lawmakers to make tax exemptions for all public employees the same.  Currently, some state retirees receive full income tax exemptions for their pensions.  Those under the public employee retirement program and the teachers retirement systems receive a $2,000 exemption that ends at age 65.

Additionally, CORPE is calling on lawmakers to approve a three percent pension increase for retirees who had not yet reached the required age of 70 when the last approved cost-of-living pension increase took effect back in 2006.

Terry said the proposals would add up to little in the state budget, but translate to a lot for the individual retirees.  “We just can’t understand why we can’t even get a nod and a wink or a mention,” he told MetroNews.

“We look at things like the $80 million tax break that they give to the horse breeders and the horse racing, but we can’t get a few million for the folks who really need it.”

The CORPE legislative rally was scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the Capitol Food Court.  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, members of the Board of Public Works and lawmakers were invited to speak to retirees.