Texas AFT Testifies on TRS Issues at Capitol Hearing

At a Texas Senate hearing today Texas AFT urged lawmakers to step up the state’s contributions to the Texas Teacher Retirement System’s pension fund. Texas AFT spokesman Ted Melina Raab noted that the official TRS budget request calls for such an increase in the coming two-year budget cycle. Melina Raab also urged the legislature to go beyond its current level of funding for the TRS-Care program of health coverage for retired school employees. He called for the use of the state’s so-called Rainy Day Fund, soon to be worth more than $9 billion, to help deal with the state’s current revenue problem.
Melina Raab told the Senate State Affairs Committee that Texas AFT supports a balanced approach to balancing the state budget, including new revenue. For example, he said, Texas AFT supports closing loopholes in the coverage of the sales tax, which currently exempts—for no good reason—a wide array of business and professional services. Eliminating those exemptions (except for lifeline services like health care and children’s day care) would raise $5.6 billion in fiscal years 2012-2013.