The committee-approved versions of SB 1458 by Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) and its companion, HB 1884 by Rep. Bill Callegari (R-Katy), would cut already-earned TRS retirement benefits for many current employees, by raising to 62 the minimum age for retirement with full benefits. Pensions would be cut 2 percent for each year prior to age 62, even for employees who meet the rule of 80, and only catastrophic health coverage would be provided. (For employees with less than five years of service credit by September 2014, the pension cut for pre-62 retirement would be 5 percent per year.) The change in the minimum age would take billions of dollars of earned retirement benefits out of the pockets of school employees.
After-the-fact pension cutbacks like this are illegal in the private sector, and they are not acceptable for school employees in Texas. A grandfather clause (exempting employees who as of August 31, 2014, are age 50 or above, or have 25 years of service, or meet a rule of 70), which would spare some but leave hundreds of thousands of dedicated school employees exposed to this take-away of earned benefits, does not make the take-away legitimate.Texas AFT is working to persuade the authors of these bills to remove the take-away of earned benefits, to improve benefits for both retired and active school employees, and to strengthen the TRS pension fund for the long haul. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 of you have bolstered our negotiating position by sending a letter to your legislators in opposition to the committee substitutes for SB 1458 and HB 1884.
SB 1458 is now eligible for a Senate floor vote as early as Wednesday, May 1. Please take the opportunity NOW to write again to your senator and representative to oppose the existing committee substitutes for SB 1458 and HB 1884 and to urge the legislature to:
–reject entirely the take-away of already-earned pension benefits from current employees;
–increase the state’s contribution rate to TRS, as recommended by TRS actuaries, to 6.9 percent in fiscal 2014 and 7.4 percent in fiscal 2015;
–require any increase in the employee contribution rate to be gradual and to be matched by increases in the state contribution rate; and
–provide an immediate benefit enhancement such as a 13th check for all retirees, not just for a small minority as proposed in SB 1458 and HB 1884.
Urge your senator and representative to demand a fair deal on TRS benefits now!