Texas Teacher Retirees Could Receive a One-Time Pay Bump in 2020-21 Budget

What two new bills might do to help some of the fund’s retirees.

Retired educators in Texas’ $154 billion Teachers Retirement System may get a one-time pay bump during state’s next budget cycle.

Two Republican-sponsored bills would grant the retirees what amounts to an extra paycheck for one year. The teachers’ union wants a permanent increase. The first, backed by Houston Sen. Joan Huffman, would give them an extra payment equal to their current monthly retirement check or up to $500 in the 2020-21 budget cycle. The second, supported by Friendswood Rep. Greg Bonnen, is more generous and would appropriate up to an additional $2,400 to ex-teachers.

Huffman, a previous judge and prosecutor, has been a senator since 2008. Bonnen is a practicing neurosurgeon and co-founder of various medical facilities. He has been in office since 2013 and has supported reforms in the retirement system, such as 2017’s annuity payment and distribution bill, which passed.

Authors of the second bill want the money withdrawn from the state’s rainy day fund, according to the Statesman.

In addition, both bills would allow the pension system to be fully funded within 31 years. To bolster the pension fund, the Huffman bill would increase contributions from the state, school districts, and active teachers to shore up the fund, while Bonnen’s would only raise state contributions.

Bonnen said making the fund “actuarially sound” treats teachers like the professionals they are.

The Teachers Retirement System is currently 76.9% funded and able to pay off all unfunded liabilities within 87 years.

Cost estimates regarding the bills have yet to be released.

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