The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 7 on July 13 titled “The 13th Check,” giving retired teachers in the state who retired before Dec. 31, 2020, a bonus one-time payment not to exceed $2,400.
However, to win approval the State House must pass the bill and Texas House Democrats left the state earlier this month and journeyed to Washington, D.C. to prevent passage of stricter Republican-backed voter registration laws. Their tactic is to run out the clock on the current special legislative session without a vote on the voter rules bill.
Both parties have agreed on raising a bonus for retired teachers, according to a report in KRIS 6 News. It has been 17 years since Texas teachers had gotten a cost of living adjustment to their salaries.
“A teacher’s impact can last a lifetime. When the comptroller revised his revenue estimate, we put retired teachers at the top of our budget list,” State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) said in a tweet. “We’re proud to pass SB7, providing a 13th check for retired teachers.”
A report in KVUE said 130,000 retired teachers in Texas make $1,000 or less per month.
“Our objective is to work every legislative session to put some extra money in those retired teachers’ pockets,” Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) told KVUE.
The Senate Bill 7 vote was unanimous.
The report said a surplus of money in the state’s General Revenue Fund will pay for the bonus checks totaling $701 million.
The bill now heads to the House for a vote, but that cannot happen with Democrats in Washington, D.C. protesting tighter voter laws. They plan to remain in the nation’s capital until the Texas Legislature ends on Friday, Aug. 6.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, praised SB7 saying it honors the commitment teachers in Texas have made for the state’s children and their future. He added that despite the current absence of Democrats in the House, the bill will eventually pass.
“Final passage of this bill into law will require the House Democrats who have fled the state to return to the House for a quorum,” Patrick said. “If they do not, this bill will die, but the Senate will pass SB 7 over and over until the House finally has a quorum.”