Proposition 9 can be found on voters' Nov. 7 , early voting ballots Oct. 23-Nov. 3.

Advocates for Texas retired teachers gathered at the Bastrop County Retired Teacher Association meeting Oct. 2 as Proposition 9 on the horizon, which would authorize cost-of-living adjustments for teachers who retired before Aug. 31, 2020.

The context

If passed, Proposition 9 would be the first COLA adjustment since 2013, which only benefited those who retired prior to 2004. Adjustments would take effect in January 2024.

What they’re saying

Kathy Worley, the Bastrop County Retired Teacher Association legislative representative, retired from her job as a teacher 20 years ago. According to Worley, Texas’ current teacher retirement cost-of-living fails to account for inflation.

“The average annuity is a little bit over $2,000, which is really hard to live off,” Worley said.

Leona Jones taught a combined 25 years in Smithville and Bastrop schools. Jones retired in 2021, past the proposition’s limitations, but supports the prospective legislation.

“I won't benefit from the COLA, but I have been really fighting for it because eventually that's gonna be me,” Jones said. “We may not see another cost of living adjusted for another 20 years, and that will definitely impact me.”

According to Jones, the increased price of property taxes, insurance and health care have impacted retired teacher’s ability to support themselves with the current COLA.

“It's been a struggle for a lot of these retirees,” Jones said.

The COLA would help address the living costs for teachers who stopped working due to health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic prior to August 2020.

“Some of the older teachers who were still actively working during the COVID [pandemic], it was such a threat to their health to get out in public that they had to quit working,” Worley said. “It's pretty bleak for a few people.”

According to the Texas Classroom Teacher Association, few Texas school districts opt to pay into Social Security, leaving teachers fully dependent on the state’s teacher retirement pension.

What’s next

The COLA vote will be among the 14 state propositions on the ballot this November. Texans can vote “For” or “Against” the adjustment listed as Proposition 9.

Early voting for the Nov. 7 election will run from Oct. 23-Nov. 3.