State Representative John Wray joined his colleagues the 86th Texas Legislature in passing some of the strongest investments and reforms to the Teachers Retirement System in many years, according to a recently issued release.
According to a press release from Wray's camp, the investments will help stabilize the TRS system, provide a supplemental payment to retired teachers of up to $2,000, and appropriate state funds to keep retired teacher healthcare premiums from increasing at the shocking rates experienced in recent years.
"We made a promise to our teachers that in exchange for their incredible work educating generations of Texans during their teaching careers, we would take care of them in their retirement years," Wray stated in the release. "The legislation I supported and that the Legislature passed will fulfill that promise."
Changes that will take effect with the new law include a supplemental monthly retirement payment will be issued to all retired teachers in Texas.
The payment will be issued before September of 2020 and will be up to $2,000 per retiree. Further, the bill increases the State's contribution to the Teachers Retirement System each year from the current 6.8 percent to 8.25 percent by 2023, where it will remain for each year thereafter. This increase achieves actuarial soundness within the TRS fund immediately, decreasing the actuarial soundness period from the current 87 years to 24 years.
This is important, the press release notes, because future "costs of living adjustments," or "COLAs," for retired teachers are dependent upon the actuarial soundness of TRS. "Retired teachers have been denied COLAs for far too long."
The funds for these investments are made possible by the state budget. The budget provides over $589 million for the supplemental payments and $524 million to stabilize the TRS fund. Another $280 million was appropriated to cover any shortfalls, and to ensure that retired teacher's healthcare premiums remain in check.
"This is a significant investment into one of the most important responsibilities of the state, protecting our retired teachers," Wray added. "I want to sincerely thank all of the retired teachers in our community who came to visit my office and communicated with us throughout the legislative session. And in response, I'm happy to report this good work that we have done.
"I have and will continue to prioritize public education and the retired teachers who have so greatly benefited our state. It is our duty to fulfill our promise to our retirees, and to show our current teachers that we will be there for them when they retire."