Breaking News: As Bill Deadline Passes, TRS Retirees Are Major Priority for 88th Legislature
The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is pleased to announce two priority bills have been filed in the Texas Legislature that would help Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) retirees struggling to make ends meet after years of not receiving a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
Our team of legislative experts is doing a complete analysis on these major TRS bills, and our full report will be available next week via an Inside Line and will be featured on the TRTA live show with Executive Director Tim Lee on Thursday, March 16 at 4:00 p.m. Central. Please stay tuned to the Inside Line in the event of time or date changes.
Below is a quick update on these bills and their major tenets.
Texas Senate Proposal: SB 10
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced early in session that TRS retirees are a priority in the Texas Senate. Working with Senator Joan Huffman (R – Houston), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) was identified as the bill that brings forward a plan to help TRS retirees.
This priority bill number was being held for a Senate proposal that had been in development for a number of weeks. On Friday, March 10 that plan was officially filed and introduced. Though Chair Huffman is carrying the bill, in an extraordinary move, every member of the Texas Senate signed on to SB 10 as a primary author.
The major components of the SB 10 plan as introduced would:
- Provide a 4 percent COLA for TRS retirees who retired before September 1, 2013;
- Provide a 2 percent COLA for TRS retirees who retired between September 1, 2013 and December 31, 2021;
- Provide a one-time check of $7,500 for all eligible TRS retirees aged 75 and over;
- The state will provide full funding for the $7,500 supplemental checks, as well as full funding for the cost of the COLA benefit enhancements;
- The plan would protect the actuarial condition of the TRS pension fund.
Texas House Proposal: HB 600
Speaker Dade Phelan (R – Beaumont) announced that the Texas House is making TRS retirees a priority this session. In a statement on Twitter, Speaker Phelan said the House was working to “provide a cost-of-living adjustment for retired educators in the state.” Working with Representative Greg Bonnen (R – Friendswood), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, House Bill 600 (HB 600) was identified as the bill that brings forward the House plan to help TRS retirees. This priority bill number was announced when the bill was filed on Wednesday, March 8.
Chair Bonnen is the primary author of HB 600, and the bill has now been referred to the House Committee on Pensions, Investments and Financial Services (PIFS). Chair Bonnen has also authored and filed HJR 2, which proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the Legislature to provide one-time or ongoing benefit enhancements to eligible TRS annuitants, including a one-time transfer of state funds for that purpose.
The major components of the HB 600 plan would:
- Provide a 6 percent COLA for TRS retirees who retired on or before December 31, 2003;
- Provide a 4 percent COLA for TRS retirees who retired between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2013;
- Provide a 2 percent COLA for TRS retirees who retired between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2020;
- Provide a one-time check of $5,000 for all eligible TRS retirees aged 70 and up;
- Create a gains-sharing system for possible future COLAs that would begin in 2028 with a 2 percent cap;
- Implement a methodology for paying down pension fund liabilities by 2054, thus ensuring the pension fund’s solvency;
- Implement increased contributions for the state and active school employees;
- Would require the passage of a constitutional amendment for the plan’s full implementation.
TRTA’s Quick Take:
Texas Legislative leaders are introducing some bold plans to help TRS retirees this session.
TRTA is extremely grateful to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Joan Huffman, and the entire Texas Senate for their proposal and for making TRS retirees a priority in the Senate. We are communicating with Senate leaders and are pleased to report to our TRTA members the high level of enthusiasm and support we hear from these Senators.
TRTA is extremely grateful to Texas Speaker Dade Phelan, Representative Greg Bonnen, and the entire Texas House for their proposal and for making TRS retirees a priority in the House. We are meeting with House leaders and we want to convey to our members that the Texas House is equally enthusiastic about helping TRS retirees.
TRTA members, these proposals represent major steps forward on our efforts to help all TRS retirees. Legislators are discussing billions of dollars being invested in TRS and billions more potentially directed at helping retired school employees.
As we mentioned in this update, we are still doing our complete analysis for these two bills. These are not the only bills that have been filed supporting TRS retirees. Many of our friends in the Texas Legislature have also filed bills aimed at helping our dedicated TRS retirees. TRTA will report on those bills and their authors in the coming days.
To all our friends in the Texas Legislature, TRTA says “Thank You!” for your hard work and dedication to Texas retired education employees.
To our TRTA members, we are so encouraged by these bills and the discussions we are having with legislative leaders and bill authors. Thank you TRTA members for your support and all you are doing to help!
If you are not a TRTA member, we NEED you! This session is far from over. All TRTA members and all TRS retirees need to be engaged in these activities now! Our presence and activities at the Capitol are supported by our dedicated, dues-paying members. We cannot do any of these activities without this support.
PLEASE join us now and help us as we work to move these various proposals forward and end on the best possible plan for TRS retirees.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more information.
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