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Q&A: Prop 9

Proposition 9

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the 88th Legislature to provide a cost-of-living adjustment to certain annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.”

If voters approve Proposition 9, eligible retirees in the Teacher Retirement System of Texas would receive a cost-of-living adjustment.



Sharon Root

Retired teacher in Pleasanton

President, Atascosa McMullen Retired School Personnel

Q: Why should the average Texan care about this proposition?

A: Because most Texans had or have a favorite teacher and the first words out of their mouth when you talk about school is “When I was in school my favorite teacher was…” And for them to learn that those teachers that spent all those hours preparing and nurturing and guiding and now they are living on less than $1000 a month. It’s an eye-opener for a lot of people, and they should care because if we don’t protect the teaching profession, pretty soon it’s going to die out. I think that active teachers now and those going into teaching need to know that the state of Texas cares about them and their future and their retirement and are proud of what they do in the classroom and on the sports field and in the concert halls and in the art galleries. All of these people have touched so many lives and for them to be struggling to buy medicine and struggling to buy groceries it’s just outrageous. Don’t get me started, we’ll be here a long time. 

Q:Why do you support it?

A: Well I spent 25 years in the classroom with the kids. I love my middle schoolers. People say, “Oh, you taught middle school, oh, you’re crazy.” No, I loved them. They were just fabulous to work with and to watch and just to love. And now that I’m retired I’m struggling to pay all the bills and to buy the medicine. Because as you get older you need more stuff, more medicine, more doctors’ appointments…So I’m supporting this because retired teachers need it, in a nutshell. 

Q:Where did you teach? What subjects/grades? 

A: My last 15 years was in Southside Independent School District and I taught choir and I was a student council sponsor and I was department head of the fine arts department; that’s basically what I taught all the time was music classes; choir, high school, middle school, elementary school, I taught it all. 

Q: How long have you been retired?

A: 10 years 

Q: Would this bill be adjusting to cost of living as time goes on? 

A: No, this is a one-time base COLA, cost of living, and the reason it can only be this one time and next time we need a COLA we have to go back to the legislature is because the funding is coming from the surplus sales tax. And that’s not a guarantee every year that we would have a surplus in the sales tax collection or a surplus in the budget. So this would be a one-time but permanent increase to the base salary of retirees those people that are getting annuities from the teaching retirement system of Texas. 

Q: So would you guys have to keep going back every year? 

A: Yep, every two years because the legislature meets biennially. This is something that the Texas Retired Teachers Association has been working on for like the past 20 years. There has not been a major cost of living adjustment in 20 years. 

One thing you need to make sure people understand is that Proposition 9 will not create a tax increase. Nobody is going to pay extra taxes. This is all surplus money that they have been talking about all this time. 

The other thing is, it has to be a constitutional amendment because the amount of money exceeded the spending cap set by the state constitution. 

You also need to tell people that one in every 20 Texans is involved in the Teacher Retirement System: active teachers, janitors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and superintendents. And active teachers will benefit from voter approval of this action because then the voters are aware of what active teachers will need in the future. 

– This Q&A was edited for clarity and length. Interview conducted by Bea Pizarro, Frieda Prado and Genevieve Ramos.



According to the voters’ guide from The League of Women Voters of Texas, opponents argue that the proposed cost-of-living adjustments are “not enough to offset the impact of high inflation on retirees.” They add that paying more to retired teachers does not address the current teacher shortage. 

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