The Texas House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee met on Wednesday, March 15 to begin reviewing bills that have been filed during the 88th Legislative Session. On the docket was HCR 20, a resolution urging Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of the Social Security Act.
HCR 20 was filed by Representative Abel Herrero (D – Robstown). Upon laying out the resolution, Representative Herrero reminded the committee members that the WEP and GPO “penalize workers such as schoolteachers, police officers, and firefighters.”
As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the WEP and GPO either eliminate or drastically reduce earned Social Security benefits for public pensioners across the nation, and most Texas public education retirees are impacted by one or both of these federal provisions.
TRTA Associate Director Brock Gregg testified for the resolution, thanking Rep. Herrero for filing it once again, as he has in previous sessions.
“This issue is a travesty of justice,” said Gregg. “Thirty years of advocacy have gone into changing this unfair formula.”
Gregg noted that 95% of educators in Texas do not pay in to Social Security through their work in Texas school districts.
“When they find out what the WEP (and GPO) is going to do to them. it often wrecks their retirement plans,” Gregg said.
Gregg discussed the two solutions that have been considered by Congress for these provisions. One is what is advocated in the resolution, full repeal. TRTA members may recall that in 2022, HR 82, which called for full repeal of the WEP and GPO, had considerable support but did not receive a vote in Congress due to the bill’s cost of $250 billion.
TRTA members may also recall two bills (HR 2337 and HR 5834), filed by Congressman Richard Neal and Congressman Kevin Brady respectively, that offered a change in the formula for WEP. The formula was based on Social Security earnings and was a less expensive solution that would have put more of public pensioners’ earned benefits back in their pockets.
TRTA lobbied extensively to pass a WEP fix in December 2022, even hosting a press conference on the south steps of the U.S. Capitol; however, no bill passed before the congressional session ended.
Gregg continued, “We really appreciate you telling Congress to do something about this.”
He closed his remarks by saying that Texas public education retirees “never give up when they know they’re right, and they’re right on this one.”
Tim Lee Live on Facebook and YouTube Thursday, March 16
Lee will explain the differences between the Senate and House proposals to provide financial relief for TRS retirees this session, Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 600, and answer questions that TRTA members have sent in regarding the bills.
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.