House Appropriations Committee Meets, Receives Testimony From TRS and TRTA

Executive Summary:

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III met yesterday, February 20, and the legislators’ discussions centered on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). The committee received testimony from TRS and the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA).

Much of this year’s testimony has been focused on two things: the TRS pension fund and the TRS health care system. Both systems require more base funding to reach an adequate state.

For TRS-Care, it’s facing a $230 million budget shortfall this session. However, that shortfall will once again skyrocket for the next legislative session. Increasing the amount of money going into TRS-Care to help offset rising health care costs will be critical.

The TRS pension fund receives the lowest percentage of state funding of any non-mandatory Social Security state in the nation. Since lowering its assumed rate of return to 7.25 percent, TRS has seen its unfunded liabilities increase. If retirees would like to see any sort of COLA or benefit increase in their pension fund, the state must increase funding into TRS.

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That’s why TRTA created the #RAISETHEBASE campaign. The campaign is centered on the idea that Texas needs to increase the base funding for the vital TRS-run programs.

During Tim Lee’s presentation to the House Appropriations Committee yesterday, he stressed these ideas.

Lee pointed out that now is the moment for Texas to ensure the TRS plan will survive and thrive; or, we will begin a downward spiral with costs outpacing contributions and benefits being reduced. History is clear, and shows that funding now saves pain later.

The House Committee on Appropriations will continue to discuss and review options to improve these programs during future meetings. TRTA will keep its members updated as committee meetings progress throughout session.

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