Originally created 12/16/06

State benefits aren't what you think

I have comments about your Dec. 8 editorial "Have we promised too much?" regarding an Associated Press article on health benefits for retired state employees and teachers. While I agree with your points that the system needs to be "fixed" for the future, I would like to offer some insight as one who is a part of the system now.

Many think that state-funded employees have great salaries, entitlements and benefit packages with all the perks. While this may be the case for some, it is not the rule. At the Medical College of Georgia, we have many employees who, like myself, have worked years for lower wages than our private-industry counterparts. At times the disparity has been as much as 40 percent.

The reason for working for lower wages was the benefit of participating in a solvent retirement system and health-care insurance that takes a real bite out of our paychecks. Another factor is the promise of the ability to continue to pay for participation in the health-care insurance after retirement. Over a 30-year span, that does not constitute a perk.

During the elections, one candidate for governor blasted us with commercials repeating the "everybody deserves the same health-care insurance that state workers have" lingo. Although he never explained the comment, he failed to mention that regular staff such as myself pay $227 a month for that insurance, which also covers my wife.

While I am proud of my life's work at MCG, I grow tired of those who give the impression that all the people in the state system are somehow getting an advantage that we do not deserve. As I am nearing the end of my time, I can say it has been a sacrifice to serve the state of Georgia.

James C. Murray Jr., Augusta


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