Texas House Proposes Sweeping Reforms to TRS Pension Plan and School Finance System

Members of the Texas House of Representatives held a press conference today to announce the House plan to fund public education and the TRS. House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R – Angleton) who was surrounded by a majority of the members of the House from both parties introduced the plan and threw his leadership weight behind the legislation.

The plan includes HB 3 related to school finance by Dan Huberty (R-Kingswood) who serves as chair of the public education committee and HB 9 by Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) who serves as chair of the appropriations subcommittee that handles education and TRS funding.

Huberty described his bill, HB 3, as a comprehensive plan including over 9 billion dollars to reform the school finance and education system and reduce school property taxes. Bonnen’s bill, HB 9, proposes to make the TRS pension fund actuarially sound and provide a 13thcheck (not to exceed $2,400) to retired educators.

Together these bills seek to provide support to every Texas school and the students they serve and recognize and support public educators from recruitment to retirement. Both Huberty and Bonnen stressed the urgency of taking action on these issues during this session.

“Making TRS actuarially sound treats teachers like the professionals they are,” Bonnen said. “Retired teachers are at the forefront of all we do this session.”

HB 9 would make the pension fund actuarially sound by raising the state contribution to TRS to 8.8 percent over time as well as provide a one-time payment to retired teachers. The current state contribution rate is 6.8 percent, and is the lowest in the nation among non-mandatory Social Security states.

The next step for HB 9 is to receive a committee hearing.

Yesterday, Sen. Joan Huffman (R – Houston) filed, SB 12, which would make the TRS fund actuarially sound and provide a one-time supplemental payment (capped at $500) to retirees. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a press release about SB 12, which you may read here. The actions in the Senate and House are great first steps to reaching TRTA’s legislative priorities this session and demonstrate that both houses of the Legislature are willing to work with TRTA to make positive progress for retired educators.

Both the Senate and the House are talking about real funding solutions for TRS and raising the base. However, these bills are not a done deal, and they have a lot of room for development. The development is going to include retiree input. It’s up to us to support and communicate with legislators.

TRTA members, your legislators are listening! The march is on to make headway on bills relating to your retirement! We want to see the Texas Legislature #RAISETHEBASE to improve the health of the TRS pension fund and TRS-Care fund.

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