Defined Benefit Plan Under Attack

Legislative Plan Calls for the End of TRS Benefit as We Know It

The House Committee on Pensions, Investments and Financial Services (PIFS) will have a public hearing on HB 2506, a bill that calls for the elimination of the state defined benefit plan provided for employees of the Texas Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and the Employee Retirement System (ERS). While this legislation does NOT change benefits for current retirees, it would eliminate the defined benefit for future retirees and virtually nullify any attempts to provide current retirees a benefit increase now or ever again. TRTA is prepared to voice strong opposition to this legislative proposal.

HB 2506 is sponsored by Representative Warren Chisum (R-Pampa). TRTA has already met with Representative Chisum’s staff during the session expressing our opposition to this bill. The proposal to eliminate the TRS defined benefit retirement plan is a direct contradiction to TRTA’s core organizational value…that is the preservation of the traditional retirement plan for all TRS members.

TRTA is interested to learn what arguments will be offered for undermining one of the state’s most successful programs, especially in the case of the Teacher Retirement System. As TRTA members already know, the TRS pension fund provides retirement security to over 1.3 million Texans, it is responsible for the creation of over 91,000 full-time Texas jobs, and it provides a higher level of benefit than federal Social Security program at a lower overall cost. In short, TRS is a strong economic engine and a job-creating juggernaut for Texas.

The reality is that eliminating the TRS defined benefit plan is bad public policy. TRS Texas is the 6th largest pension plan in the country, the 17th largest plan in the world, it is well-funded, it is well-managed, and it is the bedrock of retirement security for Texas public education employees. TRTA will send a strong message to the House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee that HB 2506 is bad for educators, bad for retirees, and bad for Texas.

The House PIFS Committee meeting on this legislation is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26, 2011 in room E2.014 in the Texas Capitol. The time is set for “Upon Final Adjournment of the Texas House,” which will be sometime in the afternoon. TRTA will work to find out more details about next week’s schedule in an effort to provide a more definitive time. Local TRTA members wishing to attend can call the office on Monday, April 25th for more information. TRTA members who are not able to come to Austin may want to watch the hearing on their computer by visiting the Texas House website at www.house.state.tx.us.

Thank you for your support and interest in protecting the TRS pension trust fund.