Two TRS bills heard on day two of special session
Retirement | TRS | Social Security Texas Legislature
Date Posted: 7/09/2021 | Author: Monty Exter
On the second day of the special session, the Texas House and Senate both held committee hearings Friday, July 9, on bills that would provide retired educators a one-time supplemental payment or “13th check“ to retired educators in the Teacher Retirement System (TRS)
The House Pensions Investments and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee Friday held a formal meeting Friday morning to vote on House Bill (HB) 85 by Rep. Glenn Rogers (R – Graford) without taking public testimony. HB 85 proposes giving retirees a one-time supplemental payment in the amount of their gross monthly annuity up to a maximum of $2,400. Committee members voted unanimously to send the bill to the full House.
The Senate Finance Committee met Friday afternoon and heard Senate Bill (SB) 7 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R – Houston). SB 7 proposes the same one-time supplemental payment to TRS retirees as HB 85, but unlike the House bill, SB 7 relies on a legislative appropriation to pay for the 13th check. This distinction is important because paying for the extra check out of the TRS pension trust fund without receiving an additional state appropriation would decrease the actuarial soundness of the fund, making it harder to provide additional supplemental payments in the future or to provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The cost of providing a 13th check to retired educators is between $600 and $700 million. Although ATPE supports both HB 85 and SB 7, funding the supplemental payment through an additional state appropriation as proposed by SB 7 is vastly preferable.
ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter also noted in testimony to the Senate committee that both active and retired ATPE members appreciate the SB 7 proposal for issuing a one-time 13th check, but they know it is only an intermediate step. The state’s more than one million active and retired TRS members deserve a retirement that provides some measure of ongoing protection against inflation in the form of automatic COLAs, as opposed to the current system of relying on the Legislature to provide the occasional supplemental check or adjustment.
In a press release Friday, ATPE State President and retired educator Jimmy Lee thank Sen. Huffman and Rep. Rogers "for working to get this legislation to the governor as quickly as possible.” Lee added, “Our retirees still desperately need a permanent fix, but this is needed relief, nonetheless. ATPE encourages legislators to continue to work toward a rational system of automatic cost-of-living adjustments that will ensure Texas teachers are able to retire with dignity devoting their careers to the education of our children.”
ATPE is committed to working with lawmakers and partner organizations during the interim to come up with a statutory framework that provides enhanced retirement security for Texas educators while still protecting the long-term health of the TRS pension fund.
Read ATPE's press release about the TRS bills here.
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