Member Login

Forgot Password?
Need Login?

You are here: Home > News & Events > News > TAB’s Open Government…
Welcome, guest: Login to your account

TAB’s Open Government Advocacy Yields Results

TAB and other Open Government advocates are heralding the results of reporting by KXAN-TV Austin and the Austin American-Statesman which shed light on an exorbitant Texas state agency lease for downtown Austin office space.

Reporting exposed a deal by the Teachers Retirement System of Texas to lease office space at an Austin downtown luxury tower for $3.9 million a year in rent – or about $325,000 a month.

The move by TRS officials comes at a time when some schoolteacher retirees have not seen a TRS cost of living adjustment in nearly 15 years.

TAB’s primary state Open Government effort in 2019, SB 943 by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, restored the public’s right to see certain components of final contracts signed by government entities.

The reform is meant to ensure taxpayers can see how their tax dollars are being spent.

When the contract details were made public the outcry was swift and loud.

TRS backed away last week from the deal, but the state agency remains bound to the 10-year lease for now.

TRS could potentially sublet the space because of Austin’s hot office space market or exit the lease altogether.

Last week TRS officials appeared before the Texas Senate Finance Committee to answer lawmakers’ questions about the deal.

A House committee will consider the issue later this month.

The message Senate lawmakers gave was clear – if a state agency spends taxpayer dollars, it will be held accountable.

In this case, that accountability come as the result of government contract transparency compelled by SB 943, and the hard work of Texas journalists.

Texas newsrooms’ ability to perform a government watchdog role has been improved as a result of passage of this law.

That’s something of which we can all be proud.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

« Back to News Archive
« Back to Latest News