A batch of dangerous bills pending in the Texas Legislature would take away guaranteed pension benefits from municipal employees and set the template for future attacks on state pension funds like the one run by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Our first line of defense against pension takeaways affecting TRS is to help city employees defeat the bills attacking their pensions in the current legislative session. These proposals all are designed by various means to pave the way for a degradation of city employees’ pensions, by switching from defined (i.e., guaranteed) benefits to a defined-contribution model, providing 401(k)-style accounts that offer no guarantee of any level of lifetime benefits.
While these bills do not directly affect school employees, they set the pattern for future attacks on pensions like the one run by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas that school employees depend on. For most school employees, the TRS pension is the only guaranteed benefit they will have in retirement, because the vast majority of Texas school districts are not covered by Social Security.
In fact, the stage for an attack on school employees’ benefits could be set by a bill that already is moving in the Legislature this session. That bill, SB 936 by Sen. Huffman, would require a joint interim committee, among other things, to examine and report on defined-contribution alternatives to state guaranteed-benefit pensions like TRS.