AUSTIN - District 34 State Rep. Abel Herrero last week filed part of his education agenda for the 81st Legislative Session.

Herrero filed five different bills that are meant to allow students of higher education public schools and their families to budget for rising higher education costs, and provide increased benefits for active and retired public school teachers, respectively.

House Bill 685 provides Texas residents, who graduate within their specified degree program and enroll in a general academic institution or public junior college in the state, with a fixed tuition rate set at the rate of their entrance year.

This fixed rate will make it possible for a student to continue paying the rate their general academic institution or junior college implements for the year they begin their higher education throughout the duration of their degree program, Herrero said.

House Bill 686 aims to benefit teachers by allowing payments dispersed by the Texas Retirement System of Texas for pension benefits to be adjusted to accommodate a cost of living increase.

There has not been a cost of living adjustment since 2001 and teachers who have retired prior to that time are not able to use the higher salaries given now in their annuity calculation for their retirement, Herrero said.

House Bill 687 creates a long-term fund for health care benefits for retired teachers, while House Bill 688 allows retired teachers to directly elect a representative to serve on the TRS Board who will represent the retired teachers' interests.

House Bill 689 increases the state's contribution to the TRS of Texas from its current amount of no less than six percent to at least seven percent of the aggregate annual compensation of all members of the retirement system each year.