FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2007
AUSTIN, TX -- Retired teachers in Texas stand to receive a boost to their pensions under a bill introduced by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. earlier this week. Senate Bill 492 would increase a retired teacher's monthly retirement, disability or death benefit by a five percent cost-of-living adjustment. Retired teachers have not received a cost of living increase since 2001.
"The Legislature can from time to time provide a cost of living adjustment based on the performance of investments of the Teacher Retirement System pension fund," said Sen. Lucio. "These retirees have lost 16 percent spending power over the last six years from inflation, not counting the 50 percent increase in health care costs they must additionally contend with."
"Sen. Lucio is addressing a situation that has languished since 2001," said Tim Lee, Executive Director of Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). "Providing retired educators with a real cost of living raise will help ensure their quality of life during their retirement years. His leadership on this issue is greatly appreciated by the hundreds of thousands of employees who dedicated their lives to Texas public education."
"For Senator Lucio to have filed this bill is awesome," said Sylvia Suarez, a retired teacher and legislative chair for TRTA District 1. "We are ecstatic. We feel that this bill would help not only teachers, but everyone who retires from a school district, like support staff. Retired educators and paraprofessionals are not eligible for social security. Some retired support staff receive only from $300 to $600 a month (total retirement pension). When their spouses die, some are forced to sell their homes because they cannot get their social security benefits."
Many retired teachers cannot afford health insurance with the average monthly premiums of $300 they must pay and are living below the poverty level. This bill offers equity in the state contribution through a small adjustment that can help retired teachers keep up with increasing costs of living.