Big News on TRS-Care! We're Making a Difference!
The March is On to “Keep TRS-Care Affordable,” and major steps in the process for accomplishing this goal has been taken by both the Senate and the House!
The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) members have been sounding the alarm about the TRS-Care shortfall. Today, we have good news to share with you!
Both the Texas Senate and House are working on budget strategies to help modernize the TRS-Care program, making changes that would impact funding now and in the future!
Texas House Includes $500 Million in Supplemental Funding in Budget for TRS-Care
During a public hearing today, March 16, the House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond) announced that they would include funding in the amount of $500 million in the supplemental budget bill, House Bill 2.
Chairman Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), who chairs Article III (education funding) of Appropriations, has also filed a bill that would provide for a larger annual state contribution to TRS-Care. HB 3976, if adopted, would increase the state’s contribution from 1 percent to 1.25 percent of active teacher payroll. The tenets laid out in HB 3976 would make an ongoing, positive change to the TRS-Care funding plan.
TRTA fully supports HB 2, but getting the bill passed will require our help! Click here to email your Representative today!
Texas Senate Budget Bill Also Includes Increases in State Funding
The Texas Senate’s budget bill (SB 1) also increases the state contribution from 1 percent to 1.25 percent of active teacher payroll. The change is contingent upon the passage of SB 788 or a similar bill.
The budget increase would be a long-term change to the TRS-Care funding mechanism, increasing revenue for the program now and in the future. TRTA supports increasing the state’s obligation to TRS-Care.
The Senate has also included out of general revenue a one-time supplemental appropriation of $148.8 million to help with the TRS-Care shortfall. This too is contingent upon the passage of SB 788 or similar legislation.
What about Changes to TRS-Care Benefits?
These budget scenarios alone will not fix TRS-Care. Structural changes to TRS-Care are necessary to keep the program alive. We need to continue to work with legislators to minimize changes and keep TRS-Care affordable.
It remains to be seen how changes in the state contribution and other additional funds and proposals would impact costs and benefits associated with the program. Through our work with the Texas Legislature, we already have seen improvements in funding strategies. We will continue to work with legislators as they make these challenging decisions.
What Happens Next?
The Legislature continue to refine strategy for funding TRS-Care. They will negotiate the budget and continue passing bills.
However, the big news today is that the House Appropriations Committee has added $500 million to HB 2 for TRS-Care.
Speaker of the House Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), Chairman John Zerwas and Chairman Trent Ashby are long-time champions of Texas retired public educators, and we are extremely grateful for their help.
These legislators have gone out of their way to help retirees this session.
Now, TRTA members need to send as many emails as possible and make as many phone calls as possible showing their support for HB 2!
Now is a Critical Time!
As TRTA has been saying all month, “the March is On!” This month is critical when it comes to finalizing the state budget, including funding for TRS-Care.
All of this budget negotiation comes to a head the final week of March, right when TRTA is hosting its 64th Annual Convention (March 27-28) and TRTA Day at the Capitol (March 29). In fact, votes on the budget may take place on March 31!
Think about the impact we will make when thousands of retired teachers arrive in Austin just days before the budget goes to a vote!
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Call your State Senator and Representative using our Toll-Free Legislator Hotline 1.888.674.3788. Express your gratitude and your willingness to work with them to “Keep TRS-Care Affordable!”
- Email your State Senator and Representative, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor!
- Above all, if you can, PLEASE ATTEND TRTA DAY AT THE CAPITOL ON MARCH 29. Learn more about Day at the Capitol here.
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.
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