INTRODUCING THE TEXAS EDUCATOR RETIREMENT EQUITY ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 06, 2005)
HON. RON PAUL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2005
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Texas Educator Retirement Equity Act, which restores to widowed Texas public school teachers the means to receive the same spousal Social Security benefits as every other American. As I am sure my colleagues are aware, widowed public school employees in Texas, like public employees throughout the Nation, have their spousal Social Security benefits reduced if they receive a government pension. This ``Government Pension Offset'' affects Texas teachers who work in school districts that do not participate in Social Security and even applies if the teacher in question worked all the quarters necessary to qualify for full Social Security benefits either before or after working in the public school system!
Until last year, Texas schoolteachers could qualify for full widow benefits by working one day in a school that participates in Social Security. Unfortunately, last year Congress took that option away from Texas teachers.
One consequence of this action is that many teachers have taken early retirement while others have been discouraged from entering teaching. Thus, the victims of this action are not only Texas teachers, but also Texas school children who are denied access to quality teachers.
Passing the Texas Educator Retirement Equity Act is a good first step toward treating teachers fairly. Of course, I remain committed to working to pass H.R. 147, the Social Security Fairness Act that repeals both the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision, another provision that denies public employees full Social Security benefits.
Congress should also be encouraging good people to enter the education profession by passing my Teacher Tax Cut Act (H.R. 402) that provides every teacher with a $1,000 tax credit, as well as my Professional Educators Tax Relief Act (H.R. 405) that provides a $1,000 tax credit to counselors, librarians, and all school personnel.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in enabling Texas teachers to obtain the Social Security benefits for which they would be eligible if they were not teachers by cosponsoring the Texas Educator Retirement Equity Act.