FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 4, 2023
This past week, it was reported that at least six lawsuits have been filed challenging the results of November’s constitutional amendment election. Texas AFT President Zeph Capo commented on these baseless accusations, made by known election deniers and conspiracy theorists, which threaten to delay the implementation of Proposition 9 and the first cost-of-living increase to retired educators’ pensions in nearly two decades:
“In many ways, our state leaders have made their bed, and now, they are making the retired educators of this state lie in it. When state leadership finally agreed to pass a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), after years of advocacy by Texas AFT Retiree Plus members, our union told legislators directly that this long overdue COLA should be included in the base budget and should not require voter approval to pass.
Never before had a Teacher Retirement System of Texas COLA required voter approval, because by requiring an election, you automatically push back the implementation of desperately needed relief. It is down-right insulting that, after years of inaction, legislators would force retirees to vote for the COLA they already earned through years of service.
During the regular session, legislators could have reworked the budget or voted to exceed the spending cap to allow for immediate action on the COLA. To this simple and reasonable request, Texas retirees were told no.
But we didn’t just get mad. We organized. Thanks to efforts from Texas AFT retirees, Proposition 9 passed by an overwhelming margin of 83.7%, higher than any of the other 14 propositions on the ballot. Thanks to their efforts, more voters turned out this November than in any other constitutional amendment election in Texas history. Texas voters made it clear that they support retired educators.
Now, that historic victory is threatened by frivolous lawsuits filed by conspiracy theorists, emboldened by members of state leadership. In 2021, state leaders legitimized these radical election deniers by passing Senate Bill 1, a direct response to their untrue claims of election fraud in the 2020 election, which made it harder for Texans to cast their ballots. There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020; there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud now. We are allowing a small group of fringe conspiracy theorists to run our state and jeopardize the well-being and, frankly, survival of our state’s retired educators.
Currently, adjusted pension checks are slated to hit retired educators’ bank accounts at the end of January, but that won’t happen if Proposition 9 is held up in court. Texas retirees, as a group, could lose roughly $30 million each month that Proposition 9 is delayed. The blame lies squarely on state leadership. Let’s hope the courts swiftly remedy the mess that state leaders have made.”
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.