On Thursday, the Texas House voted to kick the can down the road and continue providing funding increases to the broken Teachers Retirement System without adding any substantive structural changes.
Senate Bill 12, which increases the state’s contribution to TRS in addition to providing a bonus “thirteenth check” to current retirees, was passed by the Texas Senate unanimously last month.
When it made its way to the Texas House this week, lawmakers made the legislation even worse, more than doubling the already excessive spending to bring the cost of the legislation to over $1 billion. Despite this exorbitant spending spree, only State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R–Bedford) had the courage to stand up for teachers and taxpayers by voting against the short-term fix and demand long-term solutions for the program, which is on a track towards insolvency.
Every other member of the legislature voted to approve the plan.
“TRS has consistently missed its actuarial assumptions which have led to large liabilities that will be covered by the Texas taxpayers and teachers,” said Texas Public Policy Action in a vote alert against the bill.
“Structurally, we need to migrate to a defined contribution plan to replace the current defined benefit plan. Unfortunately, [the bill] fails to bring TRS into solvency, continues to significantly increase costs to taxpayers, and kicks the can down the road for another legislature to address the structural deficiencies of the current system.”
After the vote, Stickland took to Twitter to explain his position, saying that “retired teachers deserve a permanent fix to their retirement, not another bandaid.”
Today I voted against SB 12. I refuse to act like it’s more than a one time fix. Retired teachers deserve a permanent fix to their retirement, not another bandaid. They aren’t political pawns. #txlege
— Jonathan Stickland (@RepStickland) April 25, 2019
The bill’s fiscal note carries a cost of more than $1.3 billion through the coming biennium.