A cool front in late July? In many areas across East Texas, records were shattered this past week as temperatures plummeted into the upper 50s and lower 60s. The cooler temperatures were welcome relief to many as we were just settling in to the dog days of summer. As we approach and enter the month of August, I want to remind you that the summer is an excellent time to visit YOUR State Capitol office in Austin. My staff can show you around the office, help your kids or grandkids arrange a scavenger hunt on the Capitol grounds, arrange for a tour of the Capitol, or even give recommendations about places of interest in the area. Whether this summer, or sometime in future, I hope you’ll remember our office as a resource any time your travels bring you to the Austin area.
With that, here’s this week’s legislative update. . .
During the most recent legislative session, the Texas House and Senate overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 12, which will provide a “thirteenth check” of up to $2,000 for retired teachers in Texas. Over 95% of our retired educators don’t receive any Social Security benefits and, in most cases, rely exclusively on a monthly annuity check to help make ends meet. This well-deserved and long-awaited supplement hasn’t been approved in over a decade and it will provide an extra annuity check to help retirees keep up with the rising cost of living. I’m pleased to report that the TRS Board of Trustees recently met to approve the thirteenth check, which retirees will be receiving in the month of September.
Senate Bill 12 also increased the state’s contributions to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), which will shore up the retiree pension fund. The bill increases the state’s contribution from 6.6% to 8.25% of employee pay over the next five years, while also increasing the school districts contribution from 1.5% to 2%. These changes will strengthen the TRS pension fund and make it actuarially sound for years to come.
If you’ve been keeping up with my columns, you probably have an appreciation for the passion I have towards ensuring our retired educators are provided the benefits they have rightfully earned. I was very pleased with the progress we made this session, and I look forward to continue fighting for all of our educators—both active and retired.
With a busy schedule of events in House District 57 throughout the month of July, the mobile office will suspend the regular Wednesday schedule until August 7th. For any questions you may have, or issues you need help resolving, please reach out to our district office at (936) 634-2762 or our Capitol office at (512) 463-0508 anytime Monday-Friday from 8:00am-5:00pm. We will make every effort to respond to your needs.