The NCNGA Legislative Initiatives and Resolutions Committee is diligently working to improve member benefits for our Soldiers and Airmen both active and retired. At the State level we have been successful over the last couple of years with increases to the State Tuition Assistance Program and NCNG Pension as well as voting representation on the North Carolina Military Affairs Council in 2015. At the Federal level we work closely with the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) to identify legislation that supports the National Guard.
In 2021, we led a broad coalition of veteran service organizations in the successful passage of military pension tax exemption.
Grassroots Efforts – You
While your Association remains active with its legislative committee activity and through office visits and committee participation in the Capitol, nothing can beat a grassroots effort. With this in mind the biggest way you can help advance military-friendly legislation is by calling, emailing, or visiting your elected officials in your home district. You can find who represents you by entering your address into the NC legislature finder at ncleg.gov/FindYourLegislators. The Association will provide additional information on key meeting times and locations after the first of the year. If you would be part of a quick response team that can attend committee meetings and meet with elected officials in Raleigh, please contact the Association at email@example.com or 984-664-0308.
Your Association’s state legislative agenda continues to focus on benefits available to those in uniform and the military retiree population of North Carolina.
Military Retirement Income Tax Relief
North Carolina is in the minority of states that does not offer state tax relief to its military retirees — 33 other states do not tax military retirement pay. South Carolina looks like it might be the thirty fourth state if North Carolina doesn’t approve military retiree tax relief in 2021. Your Association is in close contact with the bill sponsors from last session and they both intend to re-introduce matching legislation in the Senate and the House. Once these matching bills are introduced, additional information on how to take action will be provided to our membership. Here is a signed resolution in support of legislation to exempt military retirement pay from state taxation.
Improvements to the North Carolina National Guard Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)
Increasing demand and the rising cost of tuition continues to decrease funds available per applicant. Each year it is a delicate balance to distribute available funds across applicants. In the state legislature this year, a bill requesting additional TAP funding did not leave committee or make it into the base budget. The Association will advocate for an increase in funding by $900,000 in 2021. This could be done through legislative action or some type of administrative action with other North Carolina programs.
Update: This passed as part of the National Guard Omnibus Bill, part of the NC Budget
North Carolina National Guard Pension Fund
This year, in close coordination with and support from the NC Treasurer’s Retirement Service Division, an additional $2 million of funding was made available to the pension fund on two year non-recurring basis. The purpose of this increased funding is to bring the NCNG Pension Fund to a level of funding on par with the other pension funds under the control of the NC Treasurer. A similar effort will be made for the upcoming session.
Update: The additional funds were included as part of the NC Treasurer’s budget. With the additional funding the pension fund has moved from 76%, funded to over 92% funded and should be well over 94% funded in the next year. Once the funding achieves over 94% the fund will be in a position that it is realistic for the Association to ask for monthly benefit increases.
2023-2024 State Legislative Options
- Reduced hunting and fishing license cost
- Improvement of NCNG Pension to include Survivor Benefit Program
- Education benefit improvements
At the Federal level, both the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) remain active in being our voice with our elected officials in D.C. Over the summer, as with all of us, COVID-19 forced them to adjust their focus for legislative items that were needed to support Guard nation as it responded to the pandemic on short notice. While advocating for key legislation NGAUS continued to set the agenda for the upcoming years with the mantra of The Same Equipment, The Same Resources, The Same Benefits for the Same Mission. The full list of priorities for NGAUS and EANGUS can be found at NGAUS.org and EANGUS.org.
Specific Federal agenda items with a direct impact on the North Carolina National Guard include:
Increased Full-time Manning and Support
The National Guard and Reserve rely heavily on full-time support (FTS) personnel to train, administer, and maximize readiness for Reserve Component units. National Guard FTS levels should be resourced to meet requirements and ensure servicemembers continue to maintain readiness and lethality
Continued National Guard Integration in the Total Force Cyber Mission and Training
The National Guard is and should continue to be a critical partner in developing, planning, and executing the Department of Defense strategy in the cyber domain.
Zero Cost TRICARE to Ensure Reserve Component Medical Readiness
National Guard and Reserve servicemembers continue to face challenges in obtaining health care access to meet medical readiness requirements and ensuring continuity of care, especially when deploying overseas. Significant numbers of servicemembers without health care directly impacts National Guard deployability levels.
AH-64E Apache Battalions Equipped at 24 Aircraft
Army National Guard AH-64 Apache battalions are currently equipped at 75% of the requirement to deploy in support of overseas contingency operations. The Army requires all Apache battalions, both Active Component and Army National Guard, to deploy with 24 aircraft each, but Army National Guard battalions are only equipped at 18 aircraft each.
Increased National Guard Military Construction (MILCON) Funding
The National Guard represents a significant percentage of the Total Force. However, both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard do not receive enough military construction funding to ensure overall readiness of National Guard facilities.
Protecting National Guard Equities in Duty Status Reform
As Congress considers Department of Defense recommendations to streamline and consolidate Reserve Component duty statuses, it is critical National Guard and Reserve servicemembers receive equitable benefits similar to the Active Component for the same missions performed.
National Guard Counterdrug Program
To allow for more effective planning and execution, providing a minimum of $200 million dollars in annual funding to National Guard Counterdrug Program State Plans