Senate Budget Breaks Pension Promises to State Employees, Retirees

Not a single member of the Texas Senate stood up for state employees and retirees when they approved a $251 billion state budget this week.

Instead, they unanimously supported a two-year spending plan that includes no new money to shore up the Employees’ Retirement System or protect retirees’ pensions.

Tell your lawmaker now to stand up of for us and add money for ERS to the state budget before the final version is approved next month. Immediate action is needed.

ERS is $14 billion short of meeting its future obligations and on pace to run out of money. ERS leadership has asked for $949 million to fix the problem. Lawmakers must keep the state’s promises its employees and retirees.

Unfortunately, we’ve been here before. In 2019, the Legislature also failed to support ERS retirees. They approved more money at the time for the Teachers’ Retirement System — and vowed or do the same for ERS in 2021.

Last month, they said they were ready to begin keeping that promise. The Senate Finance Committee agreed to add $139 million in new funding — only to change course this month and strip the funds from the budget.

Just as bad, they are now considering an ill-advised restructuring of the plan instead of investing the needed funds. That is the wrong approach: the fundamentals of ERS are not broken, it is just underfunded. We don’t need drastic change. We need the state to contribute more, just as employees have been asked to give more out of their monthly paychecks.

Click here to join active employees with AFSCME Texas Correctional Employees Council in reaching out to lawmakers.

The House is still crafting its version of the budget and also has not yet included the new funding.  

State workers, retirees and allies must let lawmakers from both chambers know it’s time to keep their promise of meaningful retirement benefits for the workers who spent their careers making Texas safer, stronger, and better.   

State leaders committed decades ago to providing employees a strong pension — and then vowed again two years ago to follow through. They need to keep those promises.