Legislative Changes Affecting Salary Administration, 84th Legislature
State agencies and institutions of higher education
The 84th Legislature, Regular Session, made a number of changes to the salary administration laws:
- Changes to ERS retirement rates
- Changes to leave administration
- Changes to salary/HR administration
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (Comptroller’s office) is providing these general guidelines for the changes to be implemented in the Uniform Statewide Payroll/Personnel System (USPS), Human Resource Information System (HRIS), Standardized Payroll/Personnel Reporting System (SPRS) and the Centralized Accounting and Payroll/Personnel System (HR) (CAPPS–HR/Payroll).
Changes to ERS, TRS and ORP Retirement Rates for Fiscal 2016 and Fiscal 2017
ERS Retirement Rates for Fiscal 2016 and Fiscal 2017
The General Appropriations Act (GAA) and House Bill 9 provide that the rates for both the employee contribution and the state contribution for members of the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) have changed as of the September 2015 pay period.
The table below outlines the new rates effective Sept. 1, 2015.
|Retirement Plan||Employee Contribution Rate¹||State Contribution Rate²|
|Fiscal 2016||Fiscal 2017||Fiscal 2016||Fiscal 2017|
|Judicial Plan 1||9.5%||9.5%||0.0%||0.0%|
|Judicial Plan 2||7.2%||7.5%||15.663%||15.663%|
The Law Enforcement Custodial Officer Supplemental (LECOS) rates will remain the same.
House Bill 9 eliminated the 90-day wait for participation in the ERS retirement system effective Sept. 1, 2015. Beginning with the September 2015 pay period all employees covered by ERS will begin contributing 9.5 percent of the retirement wages for both fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017.
The payroll retirement contribution will continue to be paid by agencies at the rate of 0.5 percent of base salary for all employees who are members of the retirement system. It will be paid from the agencies’ budgets.
TRS Retirement Rates for Fiscal 2016 and Fiscal 2017
For employees covered by Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the state contribution rate will remain at 6.8 percent for both fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017.
The employee contribution rate will change to 7.2 percent for fiscal 2016 and 7.7 percent for fiscal 2017.
Optional Retirement Program (ORP) Rates for Fiscal 2016 and Fiscal 2017
For employees participating in the Optional Retirement Program (ORP), the state contribution rate will remain at 6.6 percent for both fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017. Employers are authorized to use local funds or other sources of funds to supplement the General Revenue Fund appropriation, a rate of up to 1.9 percent. The employee contribution rate will remain at 6.65 percent for both fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017.
Changes to Leave Administration
Donation of Sick Leave by State Employees
Effective Sept. 1, 2015, House Bill 1771 provides new authority for state employees to donate any portion of their accrued sick leave to a fellow state employee who is employed by the same state agency. To be eligible to receive the donated sick leave, the recipient of the sick leave must be employed by the same agency and must have exhausted the employee’s sick leave, including any time the individual may be eligible to withdraw from a sick leave pool. The employee who donates the leave may not receive any remuneration or gift in exchange for the sick leave donation.
The recipient may use the donated sick leave in accordance with the existing rules for use of sick leave but may not receive service credit in ERS for the donated sick leave that remains unused on the last day of the employee’s employment. If the employee dies with a balance of sick leave that includes sick leave donated by a fellow employee, the payment to the estate for the unused sick leave would not include any of the donated sick leave.
Notifications of Leave Balances for Authorized Training or Duty (often referred to as Military Leave)
House Bill 445 requires state agencies and institutions that employ individuals who may be members of Texas military forces, reserve components of the armed forces or members of a state or federally authorized search and rescue team to provide notice of availability of paid time off during a federal fiscal year to attend training or duty ordered by proper authority. The employing agency or institution of higher education will also provide a statement that shows the amount of military leave used by the employee, the net balance of unused accumulated military leave and the net balance of unused accumulated leave that the individual is entitled to carry forward to the next fiscal year.
This bill will become effective Sept. 1, 2015.
Changes to Salary/HR Administration
General Salary Increase Effective Sept. 1, 2015
The GAA, Article IX, Section 18.02, provides authority for a 2.5 percent increase for certain employees who contribute retirement to ERS.
- The appropriations generally cover employees of state agencies, including employees of the Higher Education Coordinating Board, who contribute to ERS. Also included are certain employees of institutions of higher education who were formerly employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and who continue to contribute monthly to ERS.
- The appropriations for a salary increase do not include the following:
- Justices and judges of the appellate and district courts
- Compensatory per diem board or commission members
- District attorneys
- Criminal district attorneys
- County attorneys performing the duties of a district attorney
- Employees of institutions of higher education (except for certain employees of institutions of higher education that were formerly employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and who continue to contribute monthly to ERS)
- Return to work retirees or other employees who do not contribute to ERS
The GAA, Article IX, Section 17.05, clarifies the authority for an increase for employees paid on Salary Schedule C. The salary schedule has been adjusted by the appropriate amounts, including the 2.5 percent increase, and is reflected in the schedule. Employees covered by Salary Schedule C will receive the appropriate increase on Sept. 1, 2015.
Note: see Guidelines for the Salary Increase for Certain State Employees (FPP F.017) for further guidance on the pay raise.
Health Insurance for Reemployment Following Military Service
House Bill 437 amended the Insurance Code such that an employee reemployed under Government Code Chapter 613, (Reemployment Following Military Service), becomes eligible for insurance on the first day of reemployment on which the employee performs services for a state agency.
Payroll Contribution for Group Health Insurance
A provision in the GAA, Article IX, Section 17.04, requires each state agency and institution of higher education included in the Group Benefits Program for the state fiscal biennium beginning Sept. 1, 2015, to contribute in an amount equal to 1.0 percent of the total base wages and salaries for each benefits eligible employee of a state agency or institution of higher education to the ERS Group Benefits Program.
For this requirement, “institution of higher education” does not include components within the University of Texas or Texas A&M University systems.
The calculation of base salary excludes longevity pay, hazardous duty pay, benefit replacement pay, overtime pay and other payments that are not part of the base salary of the employee.
Tobacco User Monthly Premium Fee Deduction
The previously established Tobacco User Monthly Premium Fee Deduction will remain in effect for fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017. The fee structure remains at:
|Member or Spouse or Child(ren) Only||$ 30 per month|
|Member + Spouse or Member + Child(ren) or Spouse + Child(ren)||$ 60 per month|
|Family (Member + Spouse + Child(ren))||$120 per month|
Changes to Statewide Reports
Veterans Workforce Summary Reports and Veteran Complaint Reporting
Senate Bill 805 amended Government Code, Chapter 657, regarding veterans’ employment preferences. Among its provisions, the bill specifies which individuals are eligible for the veteran’s employment preference and when state agencies must offer employment preference. It establishes a goal for agencies and specifies that state agencies shall establish a goal of hiring, in full-time positions, a number of veterans equal to at least 20 percent of the total number of employees of the state agency. It authorizes that an agency may designate an open position for an immediate hiring of an individual entitled to veteran’s employment preference. The bill requires the Comptroller’s office to make each quarterly veteran’s report available on the Comptroller website. The bill also amended the date the Comptroller’s office must file the annual report to the legislature: no later than December 1 each year. Minor changes will be made to the dates for the quarterly and the annual Veteran Workforce Summary Reports and Veteran Complaint Reporting. A separate Fiscal Policy and Procedures statement will announce the new dates.