Mike Kueber's Blog

May 20, 2013

Why Texas voters need the power of referendum

Filed under: Issues,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:33 am
Tags: , ,

An article in today’s San Antonio’s Express-News provided an object lesson in why Texas voters need to have the power of referendum – i.e., the practice of referring measures passed by a legislative body to the vote of the electorate for approval.  The article reported that the Texas legislature has approved a law that increases the legislators’ already extravagant pension to further heights.   

  • “According to the TRS, a teacher with 16 to 20 years of service retires, on average, at a salary of $42,813 and receives a monthly retirement benefit of $1,292. The annual contribution to the retirement system is $2,740. That would rise to $3,296 under the budget proposal.”
  • “Meanwhile, a legislator with 20 years of service can retire with a monthly benefit of $4,791. Under the legislation heading for final approval, that check would swell to $5,366.”
  • “Of course, lawmakers did not vote outright to increase their own pensions. It happens automatically under state law when they raise judicial salaries. Under budget agreements tentatively approved, the state pay of a district judge, not including local supplements, will rise from $125,000 to $140,000.”
  • “Legislators earn the notoriously low salary of $600 per month, but in 1975, a creative House member amended a bill concerning the Texas Employees Retirement System to increase lawmaker pensions every time state judges get a pay raise. Lawmakers also earn $150 per diem for every day of their biennial 140-day session, or $21,000 every other year.”

Teachers currently contribute 6.4% of their pay to help fund their pensions, and their contribution will now go up to 7.7%. By contrast, state legislators will continued contributing 8% of their $600 salary, while collecting on the basis of a $140,000 salary.

This sort of self-serving conduct is why voters hate politicians.

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