Teacher retirement system

The teacher retirement disgrace

Jan 4, 2010 By Paul Burka

This is an e-mail, which arrived as a comment from a retired teacher who signs herself “Hazel.” * * * * I am a retired teacher. Earlier this morning, I checked my checking account balance and was going to start paying my bills online. I was shocked to see there…

The ERS/TRS missing check: Where’s the oversight?

Nov 25, 2009 By Paul Burka

So the retired teachers and state employees will not get their $500 checks, which was previously going to be a 13th check. The news has been greeted by silence by the state’s leaders. They cover for each other. Somebody clearly made a mistake here. Why isn’t anyone interested in getting…

Cronyism and the Corridor

Oct 12, 2009 By Paul Burka

This is a scary story. The Statesman reported yesterday that Governor Perry is removing Linus Wright, a former Dallas school superintendent, as chair of the board that oversees the $88 billion Teacher Retirement System and will replace him with a current board member who is also a member of Perry's campaign finance team, Dallas real estate investor R. David Kelly. (Wright succeeded Jim Lee, who was one of three co-chairs of the Perry fundraising apparatus; Lee had resigned in the wake of news reports that he had run up six-figure gambling debts in Las Vegas.) The removal of Wright occurred just a few days after Perry had announced the death of the Trans-Texas Corridor. The juxtaposition of events reminds me of the old Mark Twain line: "Reports of my death were greatly exaggerated." The concern is that the governor's office has installed a crony as chairman who will urge the board to invest retirement system funds in toll roads as a means to pump money into funding-starved TxDOT. Perry appointees who don't go along--as we have learned in the case of board of regents and the Forensic Science Commission--are likely to find themselves replaced. I'm not just being an alarmist here. Remember, in the summer of 2008, Perry, Dewhurst, and Craddick signed a letter agreeing to work together to find a way to pay for new roads. An earlier Statesman story about the agreement said: One prong of the plan would create a Transportation Finance Corporation to allow state investment funds — including the state employee and teacher retirement systems, among others — to directly invest in state transportation projects. Combined, the two state systems manage $135 billion in assets. But TRS and ERS officials "took a cautious view of investing in state projects in testimony this year before the Senate Finance Committee, saying a mandate to invest in Texas infrastructure could conflict with their duty to find the best return on investment for retirees."

Wrong division

May 13, 2009 By Paul Burka

Eiland and Truitt just engaged in a major debate over Teacher Retirement System bill that expanded the types of companies eligible to offer 403(b) retirement accounts to certify with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Eiland offered an amendment sought by the Houston Independent School District. Truitt, aided by…

Patterson calls school fund management “dysfunctional”

Mar 30, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson today told the Senate Finance Committee that the management of the state’s Permanent School Fund is “dysfunctional” because responsibility is fractured among three entities: his office, the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education. “It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s just evolved that way,” Patterson…

Taking on a “big dog”

Feb 9, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

The Capitol gossip machine has worked overtime since Thursday’s explosive Senate Finance hearing, but Chairman Steve Ogden vehemently denies any coordination with the Governor’s office to ambush former UT Regent Robert Rowling. Everyone who hasn’t had a paper sack over their heads knows by now that Dallas billionaire Rowling quit…