Public retirees protest pension discrimination

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By Jennifer Smith 
WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A handful of West Virginia retired public employees and retired teachers protested on tax return deadline day at the state Capitol Tuesday. They claimed they are being discriminated against.

Coalition of Retired Public Employees President Ernie “Spud” Terry said they chose April 15 for a reason.

“I’ve been retired for 15 years. My wife has been retired for 10 years. That’s 25 years without any increase in our pension and very little tax relief.” explained Terry.

Currently public retirees are taxed on both their state pension and their social security. Meanwhile, other retirees, like fire fighters, police officers and military, receive upwards of a $20,000 tax exemption on their retirement.

Retirees attending the event said for teachers who have put in 35 years, DOH workers who have toiled for the state for 40 years and agency secretaries who came to work for 45 years plus, said it’s a slap in the face not to be included in that tax exemption.

Terry said they’re asking for a $20,000 tax exemption. He stressed it wouldn’t cost the state much for most public retirees.

“Our folks that are retired and over 70-years-old, their average pension is less than $8,000 a year,” he said.

Terry cited another disparity in the refusal of the governor and legislature to even consider a cost-of-living increase. However, politicians seem to have no problem getting what they ask for according to Terry.

“During these years that we’ve been down here trying to get a little relief the legislature gave themselves a wonderful raise. The governor’s salary has effectively been doubled since we started this little crusade for fairness and equity and respect and dignity,” said Terry.