Zaffirini Opposes Risking State Pension Funds to Finance Toll Roads

(AUSTIN) — State Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) today (Wednesday) expressed anew her opposition to risking state pension funds to finance toll roads.

“It’s bad enough that some Texans’ land is being taken to build roads that those same Texans later would be charged to utilize. It would be even worse for the state to risk the retirement funds of retired state employees and teachers to pay for them,” she said.

The Texas Transportation Commission reportedly is looking into the possibility of using the state’s pension funds to finance road projects.

“The focus of those who invest our pension funds should be solely on maximizing our return on the investments, not in funding risky and unproven toll road schemes which most Texans do not support,” Senator Zaffirini said.

She added that recent weakness in the U.S. economy and tremendous volatility in investment markets affected the state’s pension funds negatively and that requiring those funds to finance toll road projects would make a challenging situation more difficult for fund managers.

“Retired teachers and state employees need to know that the state’s pension funds are solvent. Placing those funds in jeopardy by funding toll road projects sends a signal to our teachers and state employees that their retirement funds are at risk, at the whim of political pressures,” Senator Zaffirini said.

During the most recent legislative session, Senator Zaffirini voted in favor of legislation that would have placed a two-year moratorium on Trans-Texas Corridor projects. Following a veto by Governor Rick Perry, the legislature then passed compromise legislation that sharply curtailed plans to build these toll roads.

One Reply to “Zaffirini Opposes Risking State Pension Funds to Finance Toll Roads”

  1. Jeannon Kralj

    Everything I know about Texas government and the state retirement systems screams that there is NO POSSIBILTY of the TTC “USING” those strictly ruled funds for their crooked road scams. TTC needs to keep their greedy, grimy, sticky fingers totally away from that cookie jar. The particulars of TTC’s activities on this matter need to be exposed big time. Just what exactly is TTC doing? Name the names of the people engaged in these dialogues and activities. This is grossly illegal and just plain wrong and it needs further exposure.

    The Senator’s statement that the funds’ (TRS and ERS) viability have been ‘negatively affected’ by the economy may be the understatement of the year! Full information is being craftily kept from the public, but I can document …

    that the Teacher Retirement Fund lost 7 billion in value from 2007 to 2008 (fiscal end 8-31-08) and experienced a market value loss of approximately 25 billion in just the two and one half month period post fiscal 2008 period from September 1, 2008, to mid November 2008.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6113501.html

    And that’s only the tiny bit we are allowed to KNOW about! All retired teachers could lose their retirement annuities. There is nothing to stop their going over the cliff that I know of, but they do want to keep the teachers quiet for now, so these kinds of reality are being veiled from the public.

    “Placing those funds in jeopardy by funding toll road projects sends a signal to our teachers and state employees that their retirement funds are at risk, at the whim of political pressures,” Senator Zaffirini said.”

    Nobody can audit the TRS and ERS investments because they are “quasi” state agencies, just like nobody can audit the Federal Reserve System, which is fully private.

    I strongly suspect that our state retirement system funds have for many many years been “used” by the politicos and “political pressures”, but that is none of our business. That fact is what makes me very afraid that abusing the funds for toll road scams will happen more easily than we can realize, because the scamsters have been doing it for many years!

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