SB 1458 and HB 1884, companion bills by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy), would cut TRS benefits and curtail retiree health-care access for hundreds of thousands of current TRS members. Both bills passed with only minor tweaks in committee this afternoon, but they did not come through unscathed. All your calls and letters have made an impact. The bills won only Republican support in committee today, as three Democratic senators and two Democratic representatives withstood considerable pressure and voted “no.” The senators voting to defend your TRS benefits were: Sens. Rodney Ellis of Houston, Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, and Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio. The two Democratic representatives taking the same stand were Reps. Roberto Alonzo of Dallas and Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio. The party-line split in committee portends a likely battle over these bills when they come to the floor of each chamber. If you have not made your voice heard yet by letter or phone or both, do it now!
In an Austin American-Statesman article today on the proposed benefit cuts, a member of our Education Austin affiliate in Austin ISD, Hart Murphy spoke forcefully against the Duncan/Callegari legislation. He said, “There is no excuse for defaulting on the framework of expectations that we have been working under for all these years.” Murphy added: “I think it’s an outrageous proposal. It’s not as if there was a pot of gold waiting under the rainbow for teachers even under the current scheme.”