Rep. Pendleton: Eliminating retiree health benefits “should have been done a long time ago.”


Rep. Gary Pendleton (R-Wake)
(photo from

In a meeting Wednesday where House lawmakers discussed key differences between the two chambers’ 2015-17 budget proposals, Rep. Gary Pendleton (R-Raleigh) said he was all for eliminating retiree medical benefits for future teachers and state employees.

“That’s something that should have been done a long time ago,” said Pendleton after legislative staff outlined the differences between salaries and benefits in the House and Senate budgets.

Senate lawmakers have included in their budget proposal eliminating retiree health care for teachers and state employees who are hired after January 1, 2016.

Proponents of the idea cite an unfunded liability of $25.5 billion associated with the retiree health fund and the need to find ways to reduce that cost. But opponents say cutting retiree health benefits will make it much harder to attract and retain good teachers and state employees.

[Click here and here for more background on the Senate’s proposal to eliminate retiree health care for future state employees and teachers]

Some of the other key differences between the House and Senate budget proposals discussed Wednesday largely revolved around education.

Driver’s education. House lawmakers appeared to be unlikely to waver on their position of keeping driver’s ed fully funded. The Senate is proposing to abandon funding it altogether and eliminate the requirement for driver training in order to get a license.

Chief budget writer Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Cary)  cited the Senate’s move as a “major concern” and Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston)  noted that during the last session, House lawmakers came up with a new funding mechanism for driver’s ed that didn’t include using highway fund dollars, which seemed to please everyone. Now, said Torbett, the Senate is abandoning driver’s ed altogether.

Dr. Bob Shackleford, president of Randolph Community College, said they don’t have the infrastructure or funds to take on providing driver’s education, as the Senate is suggesting.

Teacher assistants. Superintendents, a principal, teacher and TA all spoke out against the Senate’s plan to cut TA jobs by more than 8,500 over the next two years, explaining their critical role in making sure that young students, especially those with special needs, get one-on-one learning time in order to succeed.

The Senate proposes taking some of the money associated with the eliminated TA jobs and putting that toward reducing class size—a move that they say would produce better academic outcomes for students.

But Rep. Pendleton pointed out that there’s an additional cost associated with building out the classrooms and schools that would be needed to accommodate the additional small classes.

Wake County Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill said that cost would be significant—about $100 million to accommodate 145 new teachers, in accordance with the Senate’s budget.

For more key differences, check out comparison documents discussed yesterday that are located on the General Assembly’s website here.

Rep. Mickey Michaux (D-Durham) interrupted budget discussions yesterday to ask the question that is on everyone’s mind: when is this thing [budget negotiations] gonna end?

“I don’t want to play Santa Claus here,” said Michaux. “You’ll be home for Christmas,” Dollar responded.


  1. JamesB

    July 30, 2015 at 10:38 am

    When the state is ranked 51st best place for teachers, the 49th place for retirement benefits looks like a real luxury, I guess.

  2. gregflynn

    July 30, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Ironically Pendleton uses his campaign committee account to pay for a retiree rate membership in the State Employees Association.

  3. Denise

    July 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    As a two year retiree and 35 year veteran of our state’s public education system, I am appalled. First of all, they have frozen salaries so many times I can’t count, the pay raises they convey are so misleading and unfair, they took away longevity pay, and the list goes on and on. I retired at the top of the pay scale for a teacher with 35 years’ experience and a bachelor’s degree, barely making $55,000. I paid into my retirement, spent many weeks of my summer vacation in workshops of one kind or another (with no stipend), so I feel like the least they can do is pay health Insurance, for everyone. Thank God I got out when I did.
    By the way, who pays their salaries and insurance benefits?

  4. Angie

    July 30, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Why don’t they cut sports? That seems to be more important than academics. Keep teacher assistants!

  5. Terri

    July 30, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Denise, you are absolutely right. The public has no idea how much teachers spend out of pocket for their students. I taught 39 years and spent an average of $1,000 each year. The list ‘could go on and on. My 39 yr. career ended with a phone call on the house phone telling me my position as a Primary Reading Teacher was being eliminated. I say a prayer every night for those going into teaching. They’re going to need all the prayers they can get.

  6. Lyda T. Barnes

    July 30, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Rep. Pendleton, would you PLEASE compare your retirement with a NC teachers? Then tell us what your health benefits, when you retire, will amount to. PLEASE remember YOU still work for the people of NC and many of these people are teachers.

  7. Janet Cameron

    July 30, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    I truly hope that ‘state employees’ will also include Law Enforcement,Congressmen,Senators, Governors, Lt Governors!!! REMEMBER, ALL the above are ALSO STATE EMPLOYEES!!!! YOU CANNOT pick and choose who gets benefits and WHO does not!!!!

  8. Phyllis

    July 30, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    It seems to me they need to cut out administration which is top heavy in the education system.

  9. JFM

    July 31, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    And to think, this idiot got elected to public office. The legislature has always treated teachers with disdain and looked to eliminate funding so they could “gift” their wealthy friends. Best thing would be eliminate the job of all current incumbents. There has to be a better group of individuals who can govern with some common sense.

  10. Martina Christie

    July 31, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I think that if someone cannot get benefits (healthcare) when they retire, then the Legislatures need to go without as well. They have wheeled and dealed us to the point that NC is NOT the place to come to live, work, or retire. Then who would want to work for the State? Might as well take your chances in the private sector, odds of survival is better there.

  11. Xyz

    July 31, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    It seems the lawmakers are truly out of touch with reality. It is absurd to think about eliminating health care for any employee ( state or private sector). When companies take care of their employees they can perform better on the job.
    They took textbooks out of the classroom, and it shows in the student’s test performances. Remember, when students actually had homework.
    Teachers, assistant teachers and administrators work hard to make children successful. They tutor, stay after school, work long hours and get one reward. ( a once a month paycheck)
    The quality of education in North Carolina is on a collision course, and it will be only a matter of time before it hits the bottom. The terrible element of this scenario is that our children will suffer.

  12. Sandra Bean

    August 1, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Shame on you NC legislators! I retired this year after 34 years in the classroom. Teachers deserve what they earn in benefits. If you doubt that fill in as a classroom teacher for a day and walk in an educator’s shoes.

  13. Alicia Nossov

    August 1, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Will state Rep. Pendleton have retirement benefits? How many hours a year do representatives work compared to teachers? Which profession requires a degree? Do representatives have assistants? Do representatives have limits on the use of copy machines and paper supplies?

  14. Sandra Wright

    August 2, 2015 at 9:32 am

    How about government employee benefits including retirement benefits? Let us see how you would like to lose your retirement benefits after working so hard to do a job that is so important and impacts every American citizen. The one difference is that your income is much larger than those in public education! Think about it!

  15. nc3300

    August 3, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    When are they going to do away with their retirement benefits and freeze their salaries. We have to teach 20 years to get health benefits after retirement. They serve 2 years and are set for life. There will be a mass exodus of teachers in the next few years. Why stay in with so little support?

  16. Rebecca Gray

    August 4, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Sad days for education in NC.

  17. Michelle

    August 4, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Let’s modify your retirement. Wait, that would mean you were a service to the community. What have you done to improve our world?

  18. Tracie Johnson

    August 4, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    I am ashamed of our state “leaders”. We all need to wake up and research carefully who we vote into office. Our state is the laughing stock of the nation.

  19. daphne rhodes

    August 5, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I am so tired of hearing about teachers needing more money the people who work with people in state run facilities deserve just as much they may not have a teaching degree but the teach just as much and don’t get summers off work days etc if you work for the state every one should be treated equal t

  20. Ruth Vecchitto

    August 7, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    So Gary Pendleton, you willing to doing the same when you retire? Huh? Huh? I can’t hear you…….

  21. Ruth Vecchitto

    August 7, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    OK, decision made. I am working to contract this year. This means five days a week. 6:45am – 2:45pm. No grading papers on MY time, no contacting parents on MY time, no entering grades on MY time, and most certainly NO staying after to tutor on MY time. Plus, you get one add’l hour a month for Staff Meetings. Teachers, check-out your contracts. This is all in it.

    Let’s see anyone try and force me to work and not get compensated. Plus, guess what. I refuse to provide any student with supplies that I have bought with MY money. Seeing the future of my retirement I have to stop paying for supplies that parents are supposed to buy and SAVE that money for MY retirement. PERIOD End-Of-Line

    OH yeah and I AM going to PEE at least once a day when I am at work.

  22. Gary Gardner

    August 8, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Rep. Pendleton was a National Guardsman and probably has a Federal and state pension from his service. He also should be eligible for Tricare for Life as his Medicare and part D supplement. Wonder if he is willing to surrender any of those.

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