Opinion

Retirement cheating

From an editorial published by The Fayetteville Observer on Monday:

A measure to prevent public officials from manipulating the state retirement system to boost their own pensions has cleared both chambers of the General Assembly with broad bipartisan support and is awaiting Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature.

The legislation was prompted by media coverage of abuses involving top administrators at four community colleges across North Carolina. College boards converted administrators’ perks to salary for pension-calculation purposes, even though no contributions from those perks to the retirement system had been made. The result was a windfall in pension funds for each college leader at taxpayer expense.

The new law would prevent “pension spiking” by any additional organizations. The practice doesn’t appear widespread so far, but if more local governments and state agencies had taken advantage, it could have become costly. This activity also could damage the stability of the state’s retirement funds.

Recognizing the problem following news reports, the state treasurer asked for legislative action. The General Assembly responded. Two Republicans were primary sponsors, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were among the co-sponsors, including Fayetteville Democrat Rick Glazier and Chadbourn Democrat Ken Waddell.

It’s good legislation that demonstrates our leaders sometimes can work together.

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