The next Texas legislative session doesn’t convene until 2019, but the groundwork for future legislative action is already beginning.
The Texas Legislature recently released its interim charges for the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. The charges include issues pertaining to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.
The charges will direct committees to study certain facets relating TRS, and the reports generated by the studies will help inform and guide policymakers in 2019.
The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) expects the interim before next session to be very busy. TRTA is focused on advancing our agenda of protecting the defined benefit plan, securing a pension increase for retirees, and advancing new and innovative funding solutions to address the TRS-Care shortfalls. As always, TRTA will need your support to move our agenda, educate decision makers and influence the Legislature. Please stay tuned to the Inside Line throughout 2018 as we keep you updated on these important issues.
To read the interim charges in full, please click below:
- Texas House of Representatives
- Texas Senate: Part 1, Part 2
House Committee on Appropriations
The House Committee on Appropriations will study the long-term sustainability of the TRS-Care program. The committee will also consider options for funding this health care program, especially as it pertains to contributions being based on active employee payroll rather than the cost of health care.
The committee will monitor how the bills passed by the Texas Legislature relating to TRS-Care are implemented during the interim. Two bills were passed relating to TRS-Care, H.B. 3976 and H.B. 30, and TRS has already used these bills as the blueprint for how it funds TRS-Care and organizes its participants benefits.
House Committee on Pensions
The House Committee on Pensions is of the utmost importance in determining the future health and funding for the TRS pension fund. The committee has been charged with reviewing the state’s oversight of pension systems. Additionally, the committee will be responsible for making recommendations to enhance the state’s oversight of local pension systems.
The committee will evaluate the investment oversight of a number of state-run retirement systems, including TRS. It will identify the best practices made by the agency and make recommendations to strengthen the state’s oversight of the system.
The health incentive programs within the group benefit programs at TRS will be reviewed and evaluated by the committee as well. The committee will be responsible for making recommendations on how to reduce expenditures through TRS-Care.
Similar to the House Committee on Appropriations, the Pensions Committee will review the implementation of bills passed relating to TRS.
House Public Education Committee
The House Public Education Committee will review the charter school system in Texas. It will consider the differences in charter and district contributions to TRS on behalf of their employees and make appropriate recommendations to support the retirement benefits of all public school teachers.
House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
The House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse will monitor and prevent the abuse of prescription drugs provided through TRS-Care, as well as other state-administered programs. The committee will make a recommendation on the best practices.
The Senate Finance committee will monitor health care costs throughout the state agencies, including TRS. The committee will attempt to improve and reduce health costs within TRS-Care.
Senate Health and Human Services
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will compare alternative payment models with providers in Medicare managed care, which includes TRS. The goal of these models will be to identify ways in which TRS and the Employee Retirement System (ERS) can work together.
Senate State Affairs
The Senate State Affairs Committee will examine and assess the TRS pension fund. It will review the different types of retirement plans, the actuarial assumptions used by TRS, TRS’s investment practices and performance and the adequacy of financial disclosures. The committee will make recommendations to ensure public pension system retirees’ benefits are preserved and protected.
The committee is also charged with monitoring the implementation of legislative action on TRS from the past session. Specifically, the Senate will monitor the following: the implementation of House Bill 3976, relating to the administration of and benefits payable under the Texas Public School Retired Employees Group Benefits Act.
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