ATPE News

Winter 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at ATPE.org.

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ATPE NEWS 19 T exas educators benefit from one of the healthiest pension funds in the country, but they are being squeezed by the rising costs of their own healthcare and state funding that hasn't kept up. Lawmakers have not raised the state's $75 per em- ployee contribution for health insurance since the inception of the program in 2001. ATPE supports measures to provide educators with more affordable healthcare benefits through the Teacher Retirement System (TRS). We urge the legislature to address the rising cost to TRS members for benefits that have lagged behind those offered to educators in other states and those employed in other professions. ATPE believes the state should provide sufficient funding to meet the healthcare needs of active and retired educators while preserving the solvency and defined benefit structure of TRS. Funding Educators' Healthcare E arlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court ruled our school finance system constitutional, but encouraged lawmakers to fix what it deemed an "undeniably imperfect" system. "Texas's more than five million school children deserve better," wrote Supreme Court Justice Don Willett in the opinion, and we wholeheartedly agree. For years, the system has received only short-term tweaks to meet minimal constitutional stan- dards and to address complaints from school boards struggling under the state's complicated "recapture" system for equalizing funding. Those mea- sures have created a patchwork of "hold harmless" provisions that merely exacerbate the inequity of school funding in the long run. With climbing enrollment and recent reports about the impact of poverty on our state's education system, it's time for real change through the adoption of suitable funding levels overall and better weights that will prioritize resources for our most pressing needs. ATPE supports legislation to dramatically improve the state's school finance system. Every child deserves access to an exemplary public education rather than one that meets only minimum standards. We urge lawmakers to provide the resources necessary for Texas to fulfill the economic and moral imperative to help all students reach their full potential. Saving Payroll Deduction Improving School Finance S ome lawmakers are again looking to prohibit educators and oth- er public employees from pay- ing their voluntary association dues through payroll deduction. A similar politically charged bill was stopped in 2015. ATPE will fight to save our members' rights to take advantage of this convenient payment method that produces no cost for state taxpayers or school districts. ATPE opposes politically motivated efforts to take away school employees' right to use payroll deduction for safe, reliable, and convenient payment of association dues. Texas is a right-to- work state in which employees are free to choose whether to join a professional association at their own cost. Attempts to prohibit payroll deduction serve only to hurt professional associations and public servants who choose to join them.

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