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Rep.Guillen, Ryan

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Rep. Ryan Guillen relates near victory to fund retired teacher health insurance  print page

by: Rep. Guillen, Ryan
04/28/2003

AUSTIN -- Democrat victories in the Texas House of Representatives have been few and far between this year as Republicans took control of that body. But, for a short time Wednesday, it looked like a real upset as moderate Republicans joined the Democrat minority to restore funds for health insurance for retired teachers.

Rep. Ryan Guillen, Rio Grande City, and other Democrats were joined by moderate Republicans Wednesday night to fight for Teacher retirement benefits, shocking the majority Republican members after three days of repeated defeats for almost all Democratic amendments to the 2004-2005 appropriations bill.

"Retired teachers face a two-thirds increase in their co-payments and a one-third increase in their health insurance premiums. Active employees will have to pay half the cost of their premiums next year and 75% of their premium costs the year after. This is clearly unfair to retired teachers who now live on fixed incomes and never expected to bear the full brunt of rising health insurance costs," Guillen said.

Attempts to stall a bill which would have added $45 million to the teacher retiree health insurance program called TRS-Care were beaten back after Speaker Tom Craddick called for a vote tally to double check the 71-70 vote. Up until that point most votes had been 95-45 in favor of tabling over 400 Democrat sponsored amendments to the appropriations package.
However, after debate, the final vote was ten votes short to confirm the amendment and it was voted down.

A teacher himself before his election, Guillen said the cuts in the insurance program were unfair to teachers and to school districts. "School districts will now have to pay an additional $220 million into the plan, increasing taxes on taxpayers across the state. This change in funding just shifts the cost of retired teacher insurance to retired teachers who really canít afford it and to local taxpayers who already suffer under to heavy a tax load," Guillen stated.

For more information contact:
Communications Director Robert McVey
Office 512-463-0416

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Austin, TX 78768

(512) 463-0416

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(956) 716-4838
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