SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The recently-approved state budget for Georgia includes a two-percent pay raise for state employees. It’s the first in a while for them.
However, some former state employees won’t get the same raise. In fact, some of the state’s retirees say they haven’t received cost of living adjustments in more than 10 years.
WTOC’s Wright Gazaway sat down with the man who signs the budget to hear his message to the state’s retirees.
Governor Kemp says the cost of living adjustments, often referred to as COLA, are on the minds of budget writers. There just wasn’t enough money to go around this year. That’s a familiar line for many retirees.
Kemp says they prioritized school security and other campaign promises in this budget.
A woman who used to work for the Chatham County Department of Family Services says they were promised two percent adjustments twice a year when she retired with 30 years of service. She didn’t want to be identified, but says the raises haven’t happened in over 10 years. That means she is still making 90 percent of what she made in 2005. Obviously, the cost of living has changed since then.
Here’s what the governor says about it.
WTOC: “What can you say to retirees about their retirement and where that stands in the future?”
Gov. Kemp: “I understand the retirees’ frustrations. My priorities were very clear. I ran on them - a teacher pay raise - we included state employees in that. The COLA issue is out there and we will continue to look at that as we move forward after this session, but like everything up here, there is a lot of people pulling at you for money.”
All of this is tied to the Great Recession of the 2000s. Once the economy rebounded, Kemp says lawmakers chose to restore cuts to other state programs first, and then turned to fully funding public education.
The Board of Trustees for the state retirement system ultimately makes the recommendation on adjustments.