Tuesday, August 1, 2017


(District 37 Texas State Rep. Rene Oliveira recently posted on his website that he had a leading role in the filing of two bills to give working teachers a $1,000 raise and retired teachers help with their insurance premiums. This Texas Tribune post never mentions his name as the author of the bills. Oliveira is running for reelection to the position he has held for 34 years.) 

By Alyya Swabi
The Texas Tribune
The Texas House has approved taking money from a state emergency savings fund to pay to temporarily bolster the state-run health insurance program for retired teachers.

The lower chamber voted 130-10 Tuesday to pass House Bill 20 authored by Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, which would put a one-time influx of $212 million into TRS-CARE, the health plan that serves hundreds of thousands of retired teachers. 
(That's Ashby, the author of HB20 in the gold tie buttonholing another state rep.)

A group of House members argued against using the state emergency savings fund, especially since the Senate has made it clear they would not approve that payment mechanism.

After the House gives HB 20 final approval, the measure will head toward the Senate, which advanced its own legislation on the issue last week.

During the regular session, legislators voted to put $483 million into the Teacher Retirement System for the next two years but changed the structure of the program, leading to higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, especially for retired teachers younger than 65. Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott added the issue to his agenda for the July-August special session.

"I've heard from hundreds of active and retired teachers from across the state on how these changes would affect their lives," Ashby said Tuesday. "It became apparent to me that more needed to be done."

In its own legislation, the Senate proposed using an accounting maneuver to borrow $212 million from health care companies providing Medicaid, instead of dipping into the Rainy Day Fund. Both bills would help cut deductibles by half for retirees younger than 65, lower costs for retirees with adult disabled children and reduce premiums for retirees 65 and older. Many retirees would not get any relief through this bill.

Sen. Jane Nelson. R-Flower Mound, who authored the Senate's version of the bill, has said using the Rainy Day Fund is a "false promise" and short-term solution.

Ashby said Tuesday he was open to "working with the other team" on how to finance the health care program's improvements during the special session. But he also said of the Senate's accounting trick: "I just don't think that's a fiscally prudent thing to do." He likened the House's plan to paying with cash, and the Senate's deferral to putting $212 million on a credit card.

A faction of House members disagreed with Ashby's financing plan Tuesday, including Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Katy, who proposed an amendment for "those of us who do not want to use the Rainy Day Fund but who do not want to vote against our teachers."

Rep. Jonathan Strickland, R-Bedford, part of the House's "Freedom Caucus," called Ashby's bill "disingenuous" in using the Rainy Day Fund for a one-time expense. He said he was voting against "political maneuvering," not against retired teachers.

To read the entire post, click on link below: 


Anonymous said...

Rene Oliveira has spewed bullshit out for 34 years now. The voters are more savy these days. His days are numbered now as far as representing our District.

Anonymous said...

I am getting sick and tired reading about Rene Oliviera.
Quite talking and vote or shut up! Now, esplane this in plane words for us viejietos dat don understand.