Retired teachers shocked at cost of office space for pension system

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A retired teachers’ group spokesman said his members are shocked that the Teacher Retirement System of Texas intends to pay at least $326,000 per month for upscale office space in downtown Austin, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association, told the newspaper his group, consisting of nearly 100,000 retired teachers, may formally oppose the decision by pension fund managers to rent the space. The retirement system plans to move its offices to the 36-story Indeed Tower on West Sixth Street when construction is complete next year. Because the lease was finalized last February it’s unclear if the retirees group can change anything.

“People are just mad, and they don’t understand how [the retirement system] could be spending this much money on a lease,” Lee told the Statesman.

A spokesman for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, which manages retirement benefits for about 1.6 million current and former public school employees, didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, told the Statesman the retirement system should withdraw from the lease “and start over.” He said the cost “is a commitment that the [pension plan] and retired teachers cannot afford.” 

The Statesman story said the retirement system disclosed the base rent for the space only after the newspaper pursued the information for seven months and that the system likely will pay more for its share of the new building’s operational costs. The state agency still wants to keep secret the total cost of the lease and has asked the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to rule on whether it must disclose that information.

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