State Rep. Lance Gooden on Friday sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for the issue of the retired educator healthcare program, TRS-Care, to be added to the upcoming special session of the State Legislature.
Gooden also filed a bill Friday to “appropriate $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund for TRS-Care to be appropriated over the next four years, while providing guidance to TRS and enhancing the program.”
See the complete text of Gooden’s letter to the Governor below.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Dear Governor Abbott,
As a supporter of retired teachers across our great state, I know you share my concern for current and future retirees. Many educators have expressed their disappointment and outrage about legislation and lack of funding passed in the regular session for TRS-Care and the retired educator healthcare program.
As a result of rising healthcare costs and a long-term disconnect between medical costs and the TRS-Care revenue stream, the program entered the 2018-2019 budget process with a $1 billion projected shortfall. HB 3976 was passed in both chambers to save TRS-Care from total demise, but the lack of funding for the program has resulted in an overwhelming financial burden for retirees living on fixed incomes.
I have listened to stories about retired teachers who are, for the first time in their lives, choosing between healthcare, necessary living costs, and taking on a new job to cover expenses. Our retirees deserve better than what we in Austin have delivered so far. Reminding retirees how much worse off they would have been without HB 3976 is a strategy that many legislators are finding difficult to express.
While there will no doubt be competing ideas for how we secure the present financial needs and long-term funding required to ensure retirement security for Texas educators, I respectfully am requesting the addition of TRS-Care funding to the call for the special session.
Today I filed HB 151, which would appropriate $1 billion from the Rain Day Fund for TRS-Care to be appropriated over the next four years, while providing guidance to TRS and enhancing the program. Since yesterday’s Senate announcements, I have spoken with retired teachers who are not in support of legislation that relies on gambling revenue, has no certain revenue source, or is coupled with contentious education proposals like those that died at the end of the regular session. We cannot afford to have the security of our retirees held hostage in an effort to pass other legislation that does not have broad support.
I appreciate your leadership and look forward to seeing you next week. I implore you to consider adding this necessary item to the call. I am confident my colleagues in the Legislature have heard retired teachers loudly and clearly, and we stand ready to make this right.