FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/22/2013
Representative James White Votes to Reform Employee and Teacher Retirement Systems
Representative James White Votes to Reform Employee and Teacher Retirement Systems, Deny Legislators Chance to Vote Themselves Benefit Increase
AUSTIN, TEXAS– This week the Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bills 1458 and 1459, sponsored by Rep. Bill Callegari (Katy), Chairman of the House Pensions Committee. These bills will provide substantial reform to the Teacher and Employee Retirement Systems of Texas. Passed by wide margins in both chambers of the Texas Legislature, they phase in increases for both employee and state contributions to individual retirements, and increases the age for workers not already vested to become eligible for full benefits from 60 to 62.
Also contained in Senate Bill 1459 was an amendment to uncouple the pension state legislators receive upon retirement from those of district judges. Current law links the retirement benefits vested state legislators receive to those of district judges in the State of Texas. Contained in the budget to be voted on during the final days of the session would be a pay raise for these judges, effectively granting an automatic pay raise to state legislators drawing a pension.
“I supported this amendment to Senate Bill 1459 for one important reason,” stated Representative White. “While we are asking the educators and state employees to modify their benefits, and the age at which they may retire, there is no acceptable reason for members of the Legislature to give themselves a boost to their own pension fund.”
The Amendment, authored by Rep. Jason Isaac (Dripping Springs), would have instead linked legislative pensions to a portion of the Governor’s salary, effectively freezing legislator benefits, and denying members a chance to vote to increase their own retirement pay.
“The Legislature has worked hard this session to locate and return funds we weren’t able to allocate to education two years ago,” stated Representative White. “Retired and current educators, administrators, and their advocates have also come together to agree on a deal that is acceptable for everyone, and makes their own pension funds financially sound. In recognition of this effort, and holding true to the principles I campaigned on, I am supporting these pension reforms, and the effort by Representative Isaac to halt any self-imposed benefit increase for Legislators.”
Representative White is a Member of the Texas House of Representatives on behalf of District 19, composed of Polk, Tyler, Jasper, Newton, and Hardin counties.