Texas House Passes HB 20 and HB 80

Published date: 8/1/2017

  • HB 20, which would provide $212.7 million towards TRS-Care, passed the House.
  • HB 80, which would authorize TRS to make a Cost-of-Living Adjustment for those who’ve retired since Aug. 31, 2004, passed the House.

The Texas House met today to discuss two bills relating to retired educators. HB 20 would provide $212.7 million in financial relief for TRS-Care. The bill would result in reduced premiums and deductibles for retirees under the age of 65. HB 20 passed with a vote of 130-10.

The bill came under significant scrutiny for its use of the Rainy Day Fund (RDF) to provide retired educators financial relief. Some legislators consider the bill to be a “false promise” to retired educators, as the Texas Senate has expressed opposition towards using the RDF.

Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) is the author of HB 20, and he vigorously defended his bill. He said that while he would have preferred to use General Revenue to provide relief, that passing the bill out of the House would allow it to be debated and revised in the Senate. He pointed to the necessity of passing HB 20, as all other House bills proposing assistance for TRS-Care have not made it through committee.

“This is the number one issue that I’ve heard about back home,” Ashby said.

Rep. Dan Huberty (R – Houston) also expressed his support for HB 20, calling it “the most important bill that we have this session.”

HB 80 Passes, Next Step: The Senate

Rep. Drew Darby’s (R – San Angelo) bill, HB 80, an increase for cost-of-living (COLA) for educators who retired between Sept. 1, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2015, if funding becomes available. In essence, the bill indefinitely authorizes the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to provide annuitants a COLA if the trust fund becomes actuarially sound.

The TRS fund, although in good shape overall financially, is not considered actuarially sound. The COLA will only occur in the circumstance that the fund increases by a substantial amount due to market gains during the interim, or by the Legislature appropriating new funding towards TRS. The bill would complete the job that SB 1458 started in 2013, which is to provide a 3 percent COLA to retired educators. HB 80 passed 139-2. TRTA appreciates Rep. Darby and the Texas House for recognizing the need for retired educators to receive a COLA.

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