Updated March 5.
As Senate Bill 3, aimed at giving full-time Texas teachers a $5,000 raise, passed the March 4, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, filed a bill the same day that could address funding issues in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
If passed by the full Texas Legislature, SB3 would likely involve increased contributions to TRS. Huffman’s proposed bill—Senate Bill 12—would increase funds to the TRS immediately. The TRS is the 13th-largest pension fund in the world, according to the press release, and provides retirement benefits to more than 420,000 people.
Funding the TRS would bring financial stability to the pension, Huffman said. For Fort Bend ISD, officials noted in a Feb. 18 board meeting that if teacher raises were passed and no provisions for the TRS were made by the state to help out districts, they estimated an impact to FBISD of $4.2 million between 2020-24, with ongoing costs of $2.2 million per year after.
Huffman’s proposed bill would increase the state’s, districts’, and active employees’ pension contributions over a six-year period and would provide a “13th check” to all retired school employees, according to her press release, which states the 13th check is long overdue and is possible because the bill makes the fund actuarially sound immediately.
“As of today, the amortization period for the pension fund is approximately 87 years and the unfunded liability is around $47 billion,” Huffman said in a statement. “Without a long-term, cost-efficient proposal to pay down the debt, like this one, TRS retirees may never see another benefit enhancement, as the Legislature cannot grant a benefit enhancement by law unless the fund is actuarially sound.”
Huffman represents District 17, which includes portions of Brazoria, Fort Bend and Harris counties.