TCTA testified before lawmakers on Wednesday about the need for the Texas Legislature to invest in public school teachers by increasing pay and state contributions to health insurance to help them grapple with the effects of soaring inflation. (Click here to read TCTA's the written testimony.)
“Addressing the adverse impact of inflation on teachers and the teacher shortage in Texas necessitates improving the professional compensation package, monitoring take-home pay, and making sure that health insurance premiums and retirement contributions are affordable and still leave teachers with a net wage that reflects their effect on students, the community and economy,” TCTA told the Senate Finance Committee.
Specifically, TCTA requested that the committee consider increased funding to school districts dedicated to salary increases for teachers and other non-administrative education professionals to bring their pay at least up to the national average and that accounts for inflation in future years.
In addition, the Legislature needs to consider a more permanent solution to rising health care costs for teachers by considerably increasing the state contribution of $75 per month and tying it to inflation going forward. Last week, state leaders provided an additional $435 million to ensure that TRS-ActiveCare health insurance premiums did not increase next year. But that funding is a one-time fix that does not address the already-high premiums paid by teachers nor does it benefit educators in districts with their own local health insurance plan.
On behalf of retired teachers, TCTA called for a cost-of-living adjustment from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie noted that the $200 billion pension trust fund is in good shape and could absorb a much-needed benefit boost for retirees.