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The 84th session of the Texas Legislature is nearing an end, as June 1—the final day the regular session—approaches quickly. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is visiting Senators and Representatives daily to encourage passage of multiple bills that would impact retired school personnel.
Funding to plug the $768 million shortfall to the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is still on track. While the supplemental budget bill (HB 2) is still being discussed in the Senate, the outlook for both houses of the Texas Legislature approving this funding is very positive. The $768 million appropriation will cause TRS-Care participants’ premiums to remain stable over the next two years.
TRTA’s Executive Director, Tim Lee, testified this morning to the Texas Legislature’s Senate Finance Committee. During his testimony, Lee also answered questions from legislators about the funding of TRS-Care.
TRTA is supporting numerous proposed bills that provide financial benefits for Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) annuitants. However, it is often difficult to pass bills this late in session.
Though we work every day and push hard to help retirees who didn’t receive the 3% cost-of-living increase in 2013 as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 1458, we have met considerable resistance from decision makers to pass any legislation proving an increase to retirees.
More than 100,000 TRS retirees did not receive the raise in 2013. The TRS pension fund has the capability to provide an increase to these remaining retirees at this point in time. However, only the Texas Legislature can approve a pension increase. With only days left in session, the calendar may simply run out of time before legislators act on any benefit increase bills.
In addition to bills that would provide a benefit increase to TRS retirees, TRTA is also working on favorable adoption of a bill that passed the Texas House of Representatives by Rep. Sergio Munoz (D – Palmview). House Bill 2168 would change the date of a TRS retiree’s annuity payment from the first working day of the following month to the last working day of the current month.
If passed, retirees’ annuity payments would be received in the same month in which they are earned. This means retirees may actually receive two TRS annuity payments in September of 2015 (the August 2015 annuity payment paid on the current schedule and the September 2015 payment paid at the end of September on the new schedule). TRTA is working with the Texas Senate to pass HB 2168.
Show Your Support for HR 711: The Equal Protection of Public Servants Act
The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been working closely with Congressman Kevin Brady to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which reduces the ability of public educators to receive Social Security. HR 711 provides a more fair formula for Social Security calculations. However, HR 711 requires the support of other congressional members to advance.
The passage of HR 711 would represent a huge victory for the retirement benefits of public educators, firemen and police officers across the nation. Please show your support for this bill by making sure your Congressman has signed on to it.
Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.
Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.