Retired teachers and school workers could soon receive bumped up monthly checks from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, filed House Bill 3214, which would provide a monthly cost of living boost to retirees’ checks of 6%, capped at $100.
An amended version of the bill would apply to those who retired on or before Aug. 31, 2019, according to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA).
According to Judy Kennedy, a retired Terry County teacher, this bill is a long time in coming. “Retired teachers and school personnel have not seen a raise in 17 years and we have so many that make $1000 per month or less. We are not asking the state for any of their money, this is our money and the TRS Annuity fund is actuarially sound and can withstand this COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). Bill 3214 is asking for a 6% increase capped at $100 per month.”
The retirement system has remained largely under-funded for much of the last decade.
State lawmakers previously increased teacher retirement checks by 3% in 2013, but that applied only to those who retired in 2004 or before.
The proposed cost of living increase this year could provide much-needed relief, especially to some of the state’s lowest earners.
In Texas, 96% of the school districts do not contribute to Social Security, so this TRS annuity is all that retired teachers have coming in from the state.
The average monthly Teacher Retirement System check is $2,096, and half of recipients receive less than $1,800 per month, according to the TRTA.
Local retired teachers feel the bill is a good start, but would like to see a cost of living adjustment in the future that rises automatically with inflation.
The local Texas Retired Teachers Association is asking for help to see that this bill is passed. The following is from a letter sent by the Terry County TRTA:
You have a homework assignment:
First, read the Inside Line from Tim Lee, sent out Monday, April 26th Follow through with the CALL TO ACTIONS! Contact Your Legislators TODAY to Get a COLA Bill on the House Floor for a Vote! ACTION ALERT INCLUDED!
Secondly, we need you to call three people and ask them to call three people, etc. (grassroots) to send out the below EMAIL SCRIPT to Representative Dustin Burrows. It doesn’t even have to be people you know from Lubbock. If you know other school retirees from Texas, call them!
Finally, Please send this information on to your local unit membership and your members-at-large! Ask them to only email the script
Now is the time to let our voices be heard regarding our future. WE NEED AND DESERVE A COLA!
Representative Burrows is the Chair of the Calendars Committee. No bill in the House will move forward for a vote, without being put on the calendar.
HB 3214 (aka COLA bill) is at a stand still. We need you to email Representative Burrows NOW (within the next 24 hours) and use the following script. His email address is email@example.com.
p.s. The information below is what should be emailed to Representative Burrows – ALL the above is just FYI for your membership.
Script for Representative Burrows:
- I am a retired Texas Public School Employee. **I served as a teacher and an administrator. I am asking you to put SB 3214 on the calendar to move forward for a house vote.
- This bill is supported by a large number of your colleagues, and it appears the bill is just sitting on your desk.
- We need this bill to move!
- Your constituents would benefit the most!
- **** This is your opportunity to be the leader that I know you are!
- I am one of 400,000 members that would benefit greatly from a COLA because of the following reasons:
- Haven’t had a COLA in 17 years
- My health care costs are rising
- My life has been impacted because of COVID
- My household was affected by Storm Uri in February
When you Zoomed with us on April 8, 2021 at 2:00PM, you told us you would be happy to check into this bill, and even wrote down the # on your notes! The cost to the state is ZERO!
When it is our time to vote on our Texas Legislators, we want to support you as you move up in positions, and we want to know that you will support us!
** (Identify your position you held while employed)
****(Choose whichever one you want
I want you to be the hero of all of Texas Public School Retirees!
I want you to be our Knight in Shining Armor!
I want you to be the leader I know you are!
I want you to claim the grand slam or that you “hit it out of the ball park”!”
This is important for Terry County Retired Teachers, as well as teachers across the state. Urge Senator Burrows to get this bill on the calendar. Then work for passage of this bill.
HB3214 Analysis follows:
Pensions, Investments & Financial ServicesCommittee Report (Substituted)
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
It has been many years since the last cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers, which has resulted in a substantial decline in purchasing power.
Testimony from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) suggests that the legislature could grant a small cost-of-living adjustment capped at $100 a month and still be able to stay within the statutory 31-year funding requirement to meet the definition of actuarial soundness.
C.S.H.B.3214 would require TRS to make a one-time cost-of-living adjustment for certain annuitants receiving a monthly death or retirement benefit annuity.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE IMPACT
It is the committee’s opinion that this bill does not expressly create a criminal offense, increase the punishment for an existing criminal offense or category of offenses, or change the eligibility of a person for community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision.
It is the committee’s opinion that this bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution.
C.S.H.B. 3214 amends the Government Code to require the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to make a one-time cost-of-living adjustment payable to annuitants receiving a monthly death or retirement benefit annuity. The bill makes an annuitant who is eligible to receive one of the following annuity payments eligible for the cost-of-living adjustment:
*a standard service or disability retirement annuity payment;
*an optional service or disability retirement annuity payment as either a retiree or beneficiary;
*a 60-month retirement annuity payment or an optional lifetime retirement annuity payment following the death of an active member;
*an annuity payment following the death of a disability retiree; or
*an alternate payee annuity payment in lieu of benefits awarded by qualified domestic relations order.
C.S.H.B. 3214 establishes additional eligibility requirements as follows:
*for a retiree or a beneficiary under an optional retirement payment plan, the annuitant must be living on the effective date of the adjustment and the effective date of the member’s retirement must have been on or before August 31, 2019;
*for a beneficiary receiving an eligible annuity payment following the death of an active member ora disability retiree, the beneficiary must be living on the effective date of the adjustment and the date of the member’s death must have been on or before August 31, 2019; and
for an annuitant who is an alternate payee under a qualified domestic relations order, the effective date of the election to receive the annuity payment must have been on or before August 31, 2019.
C.S.H.B. 3214 makes an adjustment inapplicable to payments relating to the following:
*retirees who receive a standard service retirement annuity in an amount fixed by statute;
*disability retirees with less than 10 years of service credit;
*disability retirees who receive a disability annuity in an amount fixed by statute;
*active member survivor beneficiaries who receive a survivor annuity in an amount fixed by statute;
*retiree survivor beneficiaries who receive a survivor annuity in an amount fixed by statute; or
*participants in the deferred retirement option plan with regard to payments from their deferred retirement option plan accounts.
C.S.H.B. 3214 requires an adjustment to be made beginning with an annuity payable for the month of September 2021 and limits the adjustment to the lesser of:
*an amount equal to six percent of the monthly benefit subject to the increase; or
*$100 a month.
The bill requires the TRS board of trustees to determine the eligibility for and the amount of any adjustment in monthly annuities in accordance with the bill’s provisions.
On passage, or, if the bill does not receive the necessary vote, September 1, 2021.
COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL AND SUBSTITUTE
While C.S.H.B. 3214 may differ from the original in minor or nonsubstantive ways, the following summarizes the substantial differences between the introduced and committee substitute versions of the bill.
The original limited the adjustment to annuitants who retired after August 31, 2004, and on or before August 31, 2021, or, if applicable, who are receiving payments based on a member death or alternate payee election occurring during that period. The substitute changes the applicable period to on or before August 31, 2019.