A good rule to remember whenever Dan Patrick opens his mouth, especially about public education, is not to believe him. And if a few months before Election Day he issues a public letter in which he purports to care about the health care costs of retired educators, watch out.
The letter, which Patrick wrote this week, was an alleged plea to the Teacher Retirement System Board of Trustees not to raise health insurance premiums by $50 a month for retired teachers younger than 65 who are not on Medicare.
The board will consider that issue at its September meeting.
TSTA certainly isn’t advocating for a healthcare increase for any retirees, but we question Patrick’s motive and whether he really cares. TRS explained that lawmakers were told during last summer’s special session that a premium increase would be necessary unless the state appropriated an additional $410 million to keep the program solvent. So, why didn’t Patrick act then? As leader of the Senate, why didn’t he insist then that the Legislature appropriate enough money for TRS to make a premium increase unnecessary?
Now, he claims the Legislature can find the money next year. Just trust me, he says. If you are a retired educator, an active educator, or a student’s parent, it is never a good idea to trust Dan Patrick.
Consider his record.
Patrick was nowhere to be found last spring when the TRS board raised health insurance premiums for active educators by as much as 9.5 percent, depending on their plan. And as Senate leader for the past four years, he has ignored educators’ pleas to raise the state contribution to their premiums above the $75 a month that the state hasn’t changed since 2002.
Also remember that Patrick slammed the door on a $1.8 billion increase in public education funding during the special session. And as a state senator in 2011 he voted to cut $5.4 billion from the public education budget.
He also played a major role in concocting that phony A-F school “accountability” grading system that debuted this week, and as long as he is in office he will continue to promote private school vouchers.
Patrick’s only interest in public schools is to declare them “failures” and then privatize them. In his view, educators and retired educators are collateral damage. He still wants their votes but hasn’t earned them.
If you want a lieutenant governor who will really advocate for public schools, students, educators and retirees, vote for Mike Collier, the TSTA-endorsed candidate. Vote Education First!