Senate Passes SB 10 & House Pensions Committee Passes HB 600

On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 10, the bill filed by that chamber to provide financial relief for Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) annuitants. All 31 Senators voted in favor of the bill, which had the unique circumstance of also being co-authored by all 31 Senators.

SB 10 proposes a 2% COLA for 176,000 annuitants (TRS retirees who retired between September 1, 2013 and December 31, 2021) and a 4% COLA for 270,000 annuitants (TRS retirees who retired before September 1, 2013). The bill also proposes a $7,500 stipend for TRS retirees aged 75 and older. SB 10 would provide this payment to 186,000 retirees.

The next step for the bill is to go to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.

The House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee passed its own TRS retiree benefit enhancement bill today, House Bill 600. The bill will move to the House floor in the coming days.

HB 600 includes a tiered COLA based on number of years a TRS retiree has been retired, ranging from 6% down to 2%. The bill also includes an ongoing gain share COLA which would range between 1 and 2%. HB 600 includes a $5,000 supplemental payment for TRS retirees aged 70 or older and proposes increases in active member and state contributions to the fund, raising them to 9%. The constitutional maximum is 10%.

Senate’s Discussion About SB 10

Senator Joan Huffman (R—Friendswood), SB 10’s primary author and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, laid out the bill, saying it represents “a significant financial commitment from the state.” The legislation would be paid for in full by state revenues, having no actuarial impact on the TRS pension fund.

“Many retirees have been struggling for so long,” Huffman said. “We needed to do this.”

Huffman thanked each Senator for joining her in authoring the legislation.

Huffman spoke highly of TRS retirees. “We are all incredibly grateful for their long support and work in our public schools.”

“We are fortunate enough to have a surplus,” said Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D—McAllen), when referring to the fact that state funds would be used to pay the $4.7 billion cost of providing the supplemental payments and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) included in SB 10.

Senator Mayes Middleton (R—Galveston) asked why TRS retirees aged 75 and older were specified as receiving a one-time payment of $7,500.

Huffman replied that after having worked with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, it was determined that salaries were lower for this age group and these retirees had been out of the workforce longer, making it harder for those individuals to have second jobs.

Lieutenant Governor Patrick thanked TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee and other stakeholder groups for their participation in the legislative process and stated that the passage of SB 10 “does not preclude us from giving another check across the board in the future.”

Patrick also said that he has pledged to go to Washington, D.C. this summer to visit with Texas congressional members about reforming the harmful Social Security provisions, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). He urged all Senators to contact their congressmen about these issues as well.

“We’re close and we need to make a commitment on this floor to get a bill passed in Congress,” said Patrick.

The bill received a quick and unanimous vote. It will now be sent to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.

Tim Lee Live on Facebook and YouTube Thursday, March 30 at 4 P.M.

Tim Lee will be live on Facebook and YouTube tomorrow, Thursday, March 30 at 4 p.m. Central. He will discuss what happens next in the legislative process for SB 10 and HB 600, as well as TRTA’s plans for Day at the Capitol and how you can participate from home if you are unable to attend in person.

Be sure to tune in on Thursdays at 4 p.m. as Tim Lee goes live with a variety of guests and topics related to the Texas legislative session.

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