Texas House

Texas Teacher Pensions Could Get First Bump in Two Decades

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For those who’ve retired from the classroom since 2004, monthly retirement checks have remained roughly the same.

On average, the Texas Retired Teachers Association says a Teacher Retirement System of Texas Retiree’s monthly annuity is $2,145.

“I’m making the same annuity that I made in 2006, and obviously things have changed a lot in 17 years,” said Judy Bryant.

Bryan is a retiree from Dallas ISD.

Today, she supplements her pension and social security through work with the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, helping to lobby lawmakers for a cost-of-living adjustment or COLA.

“We’re tired of having to go beg the legislature every other year, and that’s what we’ve been doing. That’s why I’ve been doing it for so long,” she said.

But thanks to a recent decision by Texas lawmakers, that soon could change.  

“This is the most bold effort to address our retired public school employee pension we’ve ever done,” said Texas Representative Greg Bonnen.

Friday, the House voted unanimously to approve a constitutional amendment to provide an ongoing cost of living adjustment to pensions of two, four or six percent. It would be based on the number of years since a teacher retired.

The plan would also include a supplemental payment for those over the age of 70, funded in part by Texas’s surplus along with a small increase in contributions from active employees.

Bryant argues the COLA shouldn’t burden those still working. She’d also like to see it increased to match inflation.

Still, she says it’s a step in the right direction.

“We are thankful that we have gotten this far this time because we never have before. “It’s a matter of respect for us as retired educators of all types,” said Bryant.

That bill now goes back to the Senate and then a conference committee where the two bodies will work out some differences between their versions of the bill.

Under the House plan, voters would get the final say come fall.  

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