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Teacher Retirement Fund to Run Out in Several Years

Retired public school employees in the state say they're concerned about possible changes to their health plans.  Officials in charge of the Teacher Retirement System originally estimated the fund that pays for teacher insurance would run out of money in 2015, but after a closer look, they now think that money will run out before then.
    Budget cuts handed down by the Texas Legislature hit current educators hard, but they also took a big toll on the retirement fund for past educators.
    Diane Granbery, president of the Wichita-Archer Retired Teachers, says, "This year they're funding it for the full amount, but in 2013 they will not.  They will cut it by 50 percent.  Most likely the premiums on our insurance through the teacher retirement system will go up."
    Retirees say they're afraid the burden of making up for that loss in funding will fall on their shoulders.
    Tim Lee, executive director for the Texas Retired Teacher's Association, says, "Medical costs are going up, administrative costs are going up, just like everything else in the country.  Costs are going up and revenues are not."
    Some retirees, like Granbery, say they're main concern is how older retirees would be able to afford an increase in insurance premiums.
    "You know, when you're in your 70's or tapping the door on 80, where are you going to get part time employment to help pay for those additional premiums?"
    The legislature will consider several options to try to keep the fund afloat, including increasing contributions from employees and school districts.
    Many say though, that's not likely, especially since many educators have had few pay raises in recent years.
    "I believe that where we're heading is that some of this burden, a lot of the burden, will have to fall back on the legislature to restore some of the funding that was cut in the last legislative session," Lee says.
    Teacher Retirement System officials will complete a study of how the fund is being used and funded by Sept. 1.
    They'll then submit their findings to the legislature.
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