The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.
A new report finds that only 50 percent of Texans with full-time, private sector jobs have access to retirement plans at work. According to the report, one in three Texans over 65 rely on social security as their only source of income.
Laura Rosen authored the report for the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.
“It’s a big problem because social security is not meant to completely replace one’s income – it’s expected to only replace on average 36 percent of prior income,” Rosen says. “So there are going to be a lot of Texans not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement.”
Rosen found certain Texans are at an even greater risk for not having access to retirement plans – and it’s a long list.
It includes people employed by small businesses, people under the age of 45, people who are less educated, low wage-workers, and Hispanic, Black, and Asian Texans. Rosen says something that could help Texans sack away money for retirement is a state-sponsored automatic savings program.
“So the way it would work is that Texans that don’t have a plan at work would be automatically enrolled into the state’s IRA plan with the option to opt out,” Rosen says. “Employers wouldn’t have to contribute but they could.”
The state would partner with a financial services firm that would hold and manage the funds. It wouldn’t even have to cost the state any money – Rosen says it could be paid for in plan fees, which is how this program is running in other states.
Texas bats are getting much needed assistance – $1.3 million in research grants, to be exact.
Houston Public Media’s Davis Land reports.
Representatives from the Austin Bat Refuge brought a few of the animals down to Houston where the bats would be awarded $1.3 million of public and private money.
It went to researchers studying how to prevent White Nose Syndrome, a disease which has basically become an epidemic among bats in the last decade.
Why spend $1.3 million on bats? Paul Phifer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says, “We’ve got an economic interest, right? Bats provide an estimated over $3.7 billion in pesticide services each year.”
He says bats provide a lot of help to corn and cotton farmers in Texas.
“And that’s not only good for the economy, it’s good for the environment,” Phifer says.
The money will go to researchers all over the country, with researchers in Texas studying how manipulating bats’ microclimates could help prevent the disease.
President Donald Trump is on a short fundraising swing through Texas. He will be in Dallas Wednesday for a fundraiser and is expected to rake in $4 million in campaign donations.