Legislative Updates

TRS Board Elections Underway, Legislature Budget Conferees Named, and More!

While activity continues at the Texas Legislation to address the TRS-Care shortfall, this edition of the Inside Line will focus on some other key issues and actions that Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) members should know about.

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Texas House Appropriations Committee Discusses Funding Plan For TRS-Care

The Texas House Appropriations Committee met Monday, April 17 to discuss House Bill 3976, the TRS-Care bill filed by Chairman Trent Ashby. HB 3976 proposes to make significant plan design changes to TRS-Care, and increases state and school district funding to the retiree health care program.
 
The bill was voted out of committee yesterday. It will soon head to the Texas House floor for a vote. As progress is made on addressing the huge financial issues burdening TRS-Care, it is vital that our members read and share this information with fellow retirees and any active educators they know!

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Texas House Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility Discuss Resolution to Repeal GPO, WEP

Today, the Texas House Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility met to discuss several bills, including HCR 101, a resolution that would urge Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of the Social Security Act.

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know about these two unfair federal provisions, and that TRTA has been fighting for repeal or modification of them for more than three decades.

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TRS-Care: What's Next

Thank you for your tireless advocacy efforts in protecting your benefits provided by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).
 
Your calls, emails and visits to legislators are truly making a difference. Legislators have heard your voice, and are formulating plans to try to help our cause.

However, many legislators are preparing to leave their offices for Easter break.

I want to ask all of you to simply take a breath and rest through this weekend.

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Senate Bill 788 Pulled From Consideration

Earlier today Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) removed Senate Bill 788 from the docket to be considered by the Senate. The bill would have made major reforms to TRS-Care, including creating a high deductible health care plan for pre-65 retired educators and switching all Medicare eligible retirees to Medicare Advantage.

Now that the bill has been pulled, alternative legislation needs to be proposed to fund and maintain TRS-Care. If no alternative legislation is proposed and passed, TRS-Care will not be able to continue. According to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), without new funding and plan design changes, TRS-Care will be sent into a "death spiral." If this occurs, retired teachers' health care will go away. TRS-Care’s current budget shortfall is $1 billion. 

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Texas Senate to Vote on SB 788

The Texas Senate is preparing to vote on SB 788. SB 788 proposes to dramatically alter the state-run retiree health insurance program, TRS-Care. SB 788 is on the state’s intent calendar. Bills on the intent calendar can be called to vote at any time.

Authored by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston), SB 788 proposes to move all pre-65 retirees into a high deductible health care plan. The deductible is expected to be $4,000. Meanwhile, all Medicare eligible retirees, those ages 65 and older, would be put into Medicare Advantage.

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Texas House Passes Budget Bill, Provides An Additional $500 Million For TRS-Care

The Texas House of Representatives passed its budget this morning. The budget includes the statutory contribution to TRS-Care as well as $500 million coming out of the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. The statutory state contribution for TRS-Care is 1 percent of active educator payroll.

Representatives debated the bill early into the morning, as it received more than 400 amendments on various issues that did not regard TRS-Care. The bill passed by a vote of 132-16.

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MEMBER ACTION ALERT – House Voting Thursday On TRS-Care Funding!

 

The Texas House of Representatives is set to take the most important vote of the legislative session regarding TRS-Care!

Click here to send an email to your representative encouraging them to fund TRS-Care!

On Thursday, April 6, 2017, the Texas House is scheduled to debate and vote on Senate Bill 1, the appropriations bill for the 85th Legislative Session. This bill will set the state budget and expenditures for the 2018-19 biennium. More than 400 amendments have been filed to the budget, and we can expect a long and arduous debate! 

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Senate State Affairs Discusses TRS-Care Bill

The Senate State Affairs Committee discussed a proposal today to make sweeping changes to TRS-Care, the state-run retiree health insurance program. Senate Bill 788 would eliminate TRS-Care 1, 2 and 3. The bill would require a high-deductible plan for participants under the age of 65 and a Medicare Advantage plan for all Medicare eligible participants. The Medicare Advantage plan would maintain a Medicare Part D Plan for prescription drug benefits.
 
Under SB 788, all Medicare eligible retirees will be moved into a plan with an estimated $146 per month premium. This includes retirees who aren't Medicare Part A Plan eligible. 

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TRTA Hosts Successful Convention and Day at the Capitol

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) held its 64th Annual Convention this week in Austin on March 27-28, followed by a rousing day of advocacy at the Texas Capitol on March 29, where nearly 1,500 TRTA members and friends convened to rally and meet with their legislators.

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