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House Takes Step to Patch Pension Fund Hole

State workers would pay more into their retirement system but get pay raises to offset the cost under legislation that earned preliminary House approval Monday.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, co-chair of the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, is shown calling an executive session on May, 12, 2014.

The Texas House gave preliminary approval Monday to legislation aimed at replenishing Texas’ underfunded retirement system for state employees. 

House Bill 9, filed by Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and backed by several House leaders, increases state employee contributions to the Employees Retirement System pension fund to 9.5 percent — a 2 percent increase. The state would start chipping in 2 percent more as well.

State employees would also get 2.5 percent pay raises to compensate for the larger share of their salaries going to the pension fund. Lawmakers passed the bill Monday on a voice vote and without debate. It still must pass on third reading before heading to the Senate. 

The fund is about $7.2 billion short — a deficit that is expected to grow by about half a billion dollars every year if left unaddressed. The fund has not been fully funded in 19 of the past 20 years.

“This is something that is well overdo, and this is something we needed to be sure we took care of this session,” Flynn told lawmakers on Monday.

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Politics State government Employee Retirement System State agencies Texas Legislature