Ashby files TRS, school finance bills

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AUSTIN — State Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) filed two bills for consideration on the first day of the recently convened special legislative session.

The first, House Bill 193, would appropriate $150 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund (commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund) to decrease health insurance premiums and deductibles for retired educators under the age of 65 who participate in TRS-Care. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas has indicated that an appropriation of this size would be enough to significantly reduce both of these costly expenses for retirees.

The new plan, which offers a single option to Medicare retirees and a second for those non-Medicare eligible participants, was adopted after Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3976 into law on June 9th.

"After more than a decade without increasing premiums for TRS-Care retirees — and with healthcare costs skyrocketing in that same time — some structural changes to TRS-Care were necessary to ensure that the program was not eliminated altogether," Ashby said. "It was a privilege to work with organizations representing retired public school employees, and my colleagues in the Legislature, to make certain our retired educators continue having healthcare coverage.

“However, after hearing from thousands of teachers across Texas, I've asked Gov. Abbott to add further improvements to the program, such as the proposal in House Bill 193, in his call for this special session,” he said.

The second piece of legislation is similar to a bill that Ashby has previously filed on several occasions. House Bill 194 would address the arbitrary small school adjustment formula from our state's school finance system, and help create greater equity among public school districts, no matter their size.

"During the regular session, both the House and Senate approved this measure as part of a comprehensive school finance bill," Ashby said. "Though that bill did not ultimately pass, due to other factors, it's clear that legislators favor the common sense reform this bill enacts."

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