AUSTIN – The Texas Senate Republican Caucus held a press conference today to show their strong support for their education reform priorities, including meaningful school finance reform legislation as well as the Texas Teacher Retirement System and TRS Care. Texas Senate Republican Caucus Vice-Chair Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), flanked by a dozen Republican senators, acted as the emcee for the press conference. Introducing Senate Education Chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), Vice-Chair Creighton stated, “We are here today to express our support for public education reform, teachers, and retired teachers.” Highlighting the need for long-term solutions over more short term band-aids, Chair Taylor stated, “Our message is loud and clear. We want substantial, meaningful education reform and we want it now. The time for tinkering around the edges and applying another band-aid is over. We have a broken system and suggested proposals to add one-time money to this system are political campaign gimmicks, not long-term solutions.” Chair Joan Huffman (R-Houston) highlighted the commitment that the Texas Senate has made to the Texas Teacher Retirement System, as well as TRS Care over the last several legislative sessions. She noted that the Texas Legislature unanimously passed HB 3976 during the 85th regular session that added roughly $350 million more to TRS Care as well as permanently increased the state’s contribution for retired teachers to roughly $850 million per biennium. As noted, without this additional funding, TRS Care would have been forced to close. Additional action has been taken by the Senate with the passage of SB 19, which provides additional funding to help lower healthcare deductibles and premiums for retired teachers as well as give bonuses to classrooms teachers across Texas. “This represents the Senate’s commitment to send a message to retired teachers and provide relief to them,” said Chair Huffman. “I am hopeful that the House will act quickly.” As noted by Chair Taylor, Texas has not taken a comprehensive look at school funding formulas since 1984, more than 30 years ago. This makes the need for a comprehensive, systemic overhaul of the school finance system through the creation of a new Commission, comprised of a broad cross-section of Texas business leaders, educators and legislators, not paid education lobbyists in Austin, all the more pressing. Quoting from the Supreme Court’s ruling on public school finance, Senator Taylor continued, “… as we have recognized, more money does not guarantee better schools.” He later added, “some people’s idea of reform is to merely spend more money in education. That is not real reform and we will find ourselves back in the same cycle of litigation and adding more short term band-aids.” “Texans can continue to count on the Texas Senate to show up, vote, and enact conservative solutions to Texas Challenges,” concluded Texas Senate Republican Caucus Vice-Chair Brandon Creighton. Senators Buckingham, Campbell, Creighton, Estes, Hall, Hancock, Huffines, Huffman, Hughes, Nichols, Nelson, and L. Taylor attended the press conference. Chair Bettencourt expects additional press conferences will take place during the special session.

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