AUSTIN- Representative Ruth Jones McClendon (D-San Antonio, District 120) filed a bill to have 4 of the 9 Teachers Retirement System Board of Trustees elected by members of the system. “I don’t see how a board made up of only appointees can be expected to take care of the interests of all the people in the teacher retirement system,” said Representative McClendon. “It just doesn’t make sense. The plan participants deserve to have a voice about Board membership.”
The Texas Teachers Retirement System (TRS) has been helping teachers since 1936. Despite the turmoil due to the recent economic recession and worldwide financial insecurity, the TRS fund has maintained its fiscal stability and sustainability, in contrast to other public pension systems that were thrown into crisis. Presently, the system has over one million participants and $111 billion in assets. The combined investment power provided to all participants helps optimize the investment results under TRS management. Under current law, all 9 members of the TRS board of trustees are appointed by the governor to serve staggered terms of six years.
Financially speaking, every member of the Teachers Retirement System has personally invested their money in the system. They contribute to the fund throughout their careers. Given the direct financial commitment all the members of the TRS have, it makes sense to give them the opportunity to elect some of their trustees. This is a common approach, as more than 60 percent of large public pension plans in the U.S. include elected trustees.
“The members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) want to directly elect their members to the TRS Board of Trustees. Representative Ruth Jones McClendon knows that TRS retirees and other TRS members are more than capable of deciding who they want to elect to the TRS Board,” said Tim Lee, TRTA Executive Director. “Direct election seems to work fine for the governor and members of the legislature, we think it will work fine for our TRS member trustees,” he concluded. Representative McClendon’s new legislation would make the TRS trustees board a more democratically elected body. “Research and the experience of retirement systems around the country make it clear that balanced boards provide good governance and positive financial results,” said Representative McClendon.
Representative McClendon is currently serving her ninth term representing Texas House District 120. She serves as Chair of the House Committee on Rules & Resolutions. She also serves on the House Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Transportation.