TRS Experiments Need Review Before Legislative Extension or Expansion

Texas Teacher Retirement System trustees today signed off on the system’s legislative wish list for the 2011 session, prominently including proposals to extend TRS authority to hire outside, private investment managers and to invest in futures, options, and similar derivative financial products. Texas AFT legislative spokesman Ted Melina Raab testified that Texas AFT cannot support any extension of such authority without a thorough legislative review beforehand of TRS investment practices, focusing on the cost and benefit of these alternative investments and the agency’s handling of them.

The system’s legislative wishes also include changes in current law for verifying previously unreported service and for correcting service-credit errors. Melina Raab said Texas AFT will evaluate these proposals based on costs and benefits to the pension fund and to TRS members potentially affected. Of particular concern will be the reasonableness of any deadlines set for employees to set the record straight as well as the availability of assistance to TRS members to meet those deadlines.

Also on the TRS wish list are proposals to adopt a “standardized” TRS school year. Melina Raab noted that teachers hardly have it in their power to force a corresponding change in their contract to accord with a TRS standard. In this case as with other TRS-proposed legislative changes, he said, Texas AFT will not take a formal position until we can see and evaluate the actual language of a bill.