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Houston Federation of Teachers expresses worry over new bill slashing pensions

HOUSTON – The news continues to shock people who dedicated their life to education.

“It doesn't just impact teachers, it impacts all school employees that are under the TRS system,” said Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

He was referring to a new law, HB 3976, hich doesn't just change health insurance costs for teachers younger than 65, but includes all faculty and staff, including some whose pension is as little as $12,000 a year.

Click here for details on how retired teachers older than 65 are being affected by HB 3976.

The Houston Federation of Teachers said state senators and the governor of Texas have broken the promise they made to teachers and are changing health care costs within the TRS plan, mostly affecting retired teachers younger than 65.

“The state has not only slapped teachers in the face, they continue to slap them over and over again to the point that teachers feel abused by the state of Texas,” Capo said.

With the average retired teacher receiving a pension of $24,000 per year, they argue the changes are unaffordable, but Republican Senator Joan Huffman said there will be nothing left of TRS if they don't make changes.

During a Senate hearing in May, she told lawmakers the money being relocated to the system will not come from rainy day funds.

Capo wants to know why not.

“It's not a matter of can they do it but will they do it?” he said. “They don't have the will to do it. They have the means but they don't have the will.”

Many assume what's done is done, but Capo has hope that this year's special session could reverse what he calls a travesty.

“They could put an item on the agenda that could fix some of this,” he said.

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