AUSTIN - Texas Representatives coined Tuesday as 'Teacher Day in the Texas House' as they initially approved two bills aimed at providing financial relief to retired school employees.
After finally approving four bills to address maternal mortality, representatives took up the bills related to educators.
House Bill 20 (HB20) by Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) would transfer $212.7 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund, into the Teacher Retirement System to decrease health care premiums and deductibles for retired school employees.
During the debate on the bill, some representatives expressed concern with taking money out of the Rainy Day Fund for something that could be an ongoing cost for the state. They also noted the Senate plan to address the same issue does so by delaying payments to Medicaid Managed Care Organizations.
But Ashby argued lawmakers are already under-funding Medicaid and using the same tactic of deferring the payment to address other budget needs.
"In my profession as a banker and you're giving me the option of paying cash for something versus putting a credit card debt on another credit card which is essentially what the MCO deferral is, that just doesn't make good fiscal, conservative common sense," Ashby said.
Lawmakers initially approved the bill with a vote of 130 to 10.
They then moved on to House Bill 80 which would give retired teachers a one time cost of living adjustment of either three percent of their monthly benefit or $100 a month, whichever is less. The bill passed to engrossment with a vote of 139 to 2.
Lawmakers will take final votes on both bills Wednesday.
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