- This is a very busy week in the Texas Legislature for TRTA and TRS-related issues!
- House Bill 9, the House actuarial soundness bill for TRS, was heard in the PIFS Committee
- The full House debates the budget tomorrow, March 27, and many amendments affecting retirees will be debated
- Senate Finance will discuss Article III on March 28
- Don’t forget to invite your legislators to TRTA Day at the Capitol on April 3!
(Editor’s note: A previous version of the Inside Line said that HB 9 passed committee today. The bill was heard, but has not yet passed.)
Today, March 26, the House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee (PIFS) met to discuss House Bill 9 (HB 9). As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) may know, HB 9, authored by Representative Greg Bonnen (R – League City), is the House’s proposal to make the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund actuarially sound.
Similar to SB 12, which passed the Texas Senate yesterday, HB 9, if passed, would provide long-term solvency for the pension fund and provide some immediate financial relief to retirees in the form of a one-time supplemental check. The proposed amount of the check would be capped at $2400.
TRTA knows Representative Bonnen has been working with Senator Joan Huffman to pass a long-term, cost-efficient plan to stabilize the pension fund. Yesterday’s passage of SB 12 in the Senate showed unanimous support for long-term sustainability of the pension fund and for retired educators.
As our members may know, by state law, the Legislature cannot approve a cost-of-living increase for retirees unless the system can pay off its liabilities within 31 years or less.
Rep. Bonnen described the purpose of his bill to the committee. According to Bonnen, retired educators “are looking for and deserve reliability in their pension.”
He said that both chambers have shown broad support for making the pension actuarially sound, and both are hopeful that some kind of benefit increase to current retirees can be provided.
Tim Lee, TRTA’s Executive Director, spoke to the committee too. He showed support for HB 9.
“Texas has done more right with their pension fund than many other states,” he said. “What we have represents a tremendous value for all Texans.”
Legislation can be fluid during a legislative session, undergoing multiple versions before a final bill is passed. At the moment, SB 12 and HB 9 differ on a few elements, including the amount of the proposed one-time supplemental payment for retirees. However, both bills are working toward the vital and necessary step to make the pension fund sound enough to provide a much-needed benefit increase for retirees.
TRS retirees really need a permanent boost in their pension benefits, but any permanent COLA is only possible if the Legislature passes a comprehensive funding plan for TRS. The vote in the Senate yesterday and the House PIFS committee today proves that our state is determined to ensure retirement security for our retired and active school employees.
TRTA supports raising the base funding for both the TRS pension plan the and TRS-Care health insurance program. TRTA also supports helping TRS retirees with a meaningful benefit increase this session.
The work being done this session must help our current retirees, as their health care premiums and other costs are going up. A lack of pension increases means many retirees can barely make ends meet. Texas can and should do more to help our retired school employees!
TRTA supports both SB 12 and HB 9 and is actively working with elected officials to help all TRS members. TRTA has expressed to the legislators that more needs to be done for retirees! TRTA is pushing for as large a benefit increase for retirees as possible.
House Budget Debate Tomorrow
Amendments will be made tomorrow, March 27, from the House floor as they debate the state budget bills. Here are some of the amendments TRTA is keeping its eyes on that impact retirees:
- #116–by Munoz, Jr.: Reclassifies the TRS-Care Supplemental appropriation to base budget funding by the same value of the supplemental appropriation, except calculated as a percentage of payroll. Contingent on passage of HB 3887 (Capriglione) or similar legislation.
- #150–by Flynn: Moves $29 million from ESF to TRS.
- #223–by Howard: Creates an independent Ombudsman at TRS to investigate member complaints and other issues that may negatively impact TRS members.
- #306–by Toth: Redirects $1 million from Article I to TRS-Care in Article III.
A link to the live webcast of the House floor debate will be available from this website at approximately 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.
Also Coming Up This Week
On Thursday, March 28 at 9:00 a.m., the Senate Finance Committee will meet to discuss the budget for Article III, where funds appropriated for TRS are determined. A live link to the meeting webcast will be available from this website on Thursday morning.
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here.