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Bill increasing state contributions to Texas Teachers passes House

An American flag flies with the Texas state flag outside the Texas State Capitol building in Austin, Texas, U.S.

Legislation increasing state contributions to the $153 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin, passed the Texas House of Representatives, a news release issued by the Texas House Republican Caucus said.

The House on Thursday passed an amended version of Senate Bill 12, which passed unanimously 31-0 in the state Senate on March 25, in a 145-1 vote (with one member abstaining and three absent), according to LegiScan, a legislative tracking and data service provider.

SB 12, originally filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, would gradually increase the state contribution to the TRS Pension Trust Fund to 8.8% from 6.8% of the statewide teacher salary cost over the next five years. This increase would account for a 29.4% increase in the state funding level.

The bill also authorizes a one-time supplemental payment of up to $2,400 to plan participants who retired prior to 2017.

Justin G. Till, chief of staff for state Rep. Greg Bonnen, who authored a similar bill in the House, said in an email that since the House and Senate versions of the bill differ, the Senate will have to either concur with or reject the amendments the House made and demand a conference committee to negotiate a final version.

A spokesman for Ms. Huffman said that the senator does not intend to concur with the amendments that the house made. So, a conference committee is expected to be formed to create a final version of the bill.

Once a final version of the bill is agreed upon, it will be sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. Mr. Till said Mr. Bonnen's office has "no indication that the governor opposes the bill at this time."