I want to start this column by extending my sincere gratitude to all of the brave men and women who serve as first responders. As we recently reflected on that solemn September morning over 17 years ago, we remember those who lost their lives to save the lives of countless others. God bless their sacrifice, and God bless their memory. I hope you’ll take some time in the days and weeks to come to thank a first responder for their dedication and service.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…
House Interim Charge: Pensions
The committee we’ll focus on in this week’s column is the House Pensions Committee. This seven-member committee oversees the benefit and financial obligations of all public retirement systems in Texas. The committee also has purview over a number of state agencies, including the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System, and the State Pension Review Board.
This interim the House Pensions Committee has been tasked with studying and making recommendations to enhance state oversight with respect to the overall soundness of local and state pension systems. More specifically, the committee will focus on governance structures and investment oversight, which ultimately contribute to healthier, more sustainable plans. Additionally, through in-depth evaluations of long-term liabilities at the state and local level, the committee can determine methods of best-practice that would also contribute to the overall health of pension plans across the state.
Long-term liabilities, such as the retirement benefits that many local government, state, and school district employees have been promised, are top of mind for legislators and statewide elected officials alike. Recently, the State Comptroller of Public Accounts has been promoting a solution to these ever-growing obligations. Though his plan to invest portions of the state’s “Rainy Day Fund”—that is growing at an all time rate due to increases in oil and gas revenues statewide—and use proceeds to help balance the books of the state budget is not a priority for the Pension Committee, you can be sure that such a policy decision would directly impact the work of this committee. I look forward to following any progress on this front, as I am committed to any financially sound decision that would keep our promise to so many hard-working Texans.
The mobile office is on the road this month and looks forward to seeing you on the following dates, in the following locations: September 19th at the Houston County Courthouse Annex in Crockett from 9:00-11:00am, or at the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton from 1:30-3:30pm.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.