The Texas Public Employees Association is the oldest and largest state employee group. As a non-partisan, non-union association, TPEA is the leading advocate for ALL state employees and retirees before the Texas Legislature.
State Employee Update - March 7th, 2013
Late yesterday afternoon the full Senate Finance committee adopted the recommendations of the Article I / Compensation Work Group, which included a series of funding recommendations for state employees’ salary and benefits. The full Senate will consider Senate Bill 1, the 2014/15 biennial state budget. The comparable work group of the House Appropriations Committee has not finalized its recommendations for consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee.
TPEA is very pleased with the action the Senate has taken and will be working with the House Appropriations Work Group and the full committee to promote a similar set of recommendations on salary, retirement and health care benefits.
The Senate Finance Committee recommendations include the aggregate of TPEA’s proposals on state employee salary, health care, and potential increased state contributions for the pension fund.
The biggest item, a state employee pay raise, required an allocation of close to $400M. This includes:
On the benefits front, health care continues to be fully funded, ensuring that the contribution policy regarding premiums (100% for the employees and 50% for dependents) will remain in place and that, according to ERS, there is enough additional money in the base bill to allow the current benefit design to remain intact. In other words, there should be no hikes in copay or deductibles. TPEA’s position on the funding levels was consistent with the ERS legislative appropriations request. Essentially, this is the amount funded by the Senate Finance Committee action.
Senate Finance did increase the state contribution to the ERS pension fund, effective in 2015, from the current 6.5% to 7.65%. Although this is below the 10% requested by ERS and supported by TPEA, it is still almost a full percentage higher than the increased contribution given to TRS. Given the pay raise, and the ongoing need to shore up the pension fund, it is possible there will be considerable pressure for another increase, albeit small, in the employee contribution to the retirement fund. Developments in this regard are being monitored closely.
Thus far, our proposed $1000 annuity adjustment/13th check has met stiff resistance. Although there is considerable appreciation by legislative leaders for the merit of an annuity adjustment, there is no support to provide one until the fund is actuarially sound. The possibilities for actuarial soundness improve significantly if:
We are continuing to work these issues.
TPEA does not expect any significant changes on employee salary or benefit funding issues in the Senate bill during the chamber’s deliberations, as the full Senate historically adopts the Finance Committee’s proposed budget bill. However, the House Appropriations Committee has yet to make any commitment to increased pay for state employees and has given mixed signals regarding an increased retirement contribution, though they have approved adequate insurance funding for ERS.
Too often legislators receive little acknowledgement for the good work they are doing. TPEA asks those state employees who are appreciative of the actions of the Senate Finance Committee to email or write – on your own time and using your own equipment – your thanks to the committee chair and members. US Post can be addressed to each senator individually at
P.O. Box 12068Email can be sent through the Texas Senate Online website.
TPEA believes employees who wish to express their appreciation should specifically acknowledge the efforts and recommendations of the Working Group on Compensation, who recommended these substantial pay raises and preservation of employee benefits to the full Senate Finance Committee: