When Joe Ramirez retired from the Austin school district in 2012, his rent was about $1,000 a month. Today, as housing prices have soared in the city, her rent has doubled to $2,000, but her monthly pension remains the same as 11 years ago.
For many people, it’s difficult to just cover the basics, he said.
There are people living on $1,000 a month, Ramirez said. We’re talking about medicine, any type of long-term health care.
Ramirez and other retired teachers hope voters will approve a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would provide a cost-of-living adjustment to retired teachers and other school employees who benefit from the Texas Teachers’ Retirement System .
If approved, Proposition 9, a $3.35 billion proposal, would give retired teachers a raise of between 2% and 6% depending on when they retire. The retirement system supports retired teachers and other school employees and administrators.
Now is a good time to invest, said Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association.
The teachers’ pension plan is strong, and the investment proposed by the Legislature this year comes from surplus funds that will not increase taxes on residents or rates for current school employees, he said.
The increase would be very significant for retirees, he said, because most former school employees have not received a pay raise since 2004.
These people have lost between 13 and 34 percent of their purchasing power, Lee said. It hurts no matter where you go. They lost a significant percentage of the value of their dollar. Many of them desperately need a raise.
If voters approve the increases in the Nov. 7 election, the proposal will give about 425,000 retirees an increase in their pensions, he said.
Most Texas teachers are not eligible for Social Security and therefore rely on their check from the state system.
Teachers in the Austin district are among a small minority in the state who pay into and receive a Social Security check.
Many retired teachers struggle to decide whether they can afford to buy the medicine they need, pay for food or cover housing costs, said Larry Yawn, a Round Rock resident.
Yawn retired 20 years ago after teaching government and U.S. history in Austin and Houston.
It was amazing how many people had to make impossible choices between what they could afford this month and what they could afford next month, Yawn said.
Retirees feel trapped because they depend on the state for their pension check.
Unless the state gives an increase, you probably won’t see any increase, Yawn said.
Voting for the proposal would also mean support for teachers, said Lee, director of the retired teachers association.
There seems to be a belief that we have lost this collective respect for education, Lee said. It means a lot to them.
Early voting will run until November 3. Election day is November 7.
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