End of Special Session, etc.

El special legislative session has ended, with the House adjourning sine die on Wednesday June 29 and the Senate doing so the day before.

TRTA members have been waiting to learn the outcome of SB 1, to which Representative Larry Gonzales attached an amendment intended to provide financial relief to TRS annuitants. A conference committee consisting of five representatives and five senators reviewed SB 1 and its 181 amendments in the final days of the specialsession. On Monday June 27, the committee filed its official report. The Gonzales amendment was no longer included in the final version of the bill and this means that retirees will not receive a permanent or supplemental increase in their pension benefit this biennium.

The Gonzales amendment, originally written as HB 3542, would have provided the Teacher Retirement System Board of Trustees with the temporary authority to issue a supplemental payment to TRS retirees pending certain financial conditions. These conditions were meant to protect the stability of the pension fund by ensuring that a payment would be made only if TRS would remain at least 80% funded or higher. Additionally, the payment could not have been made unless TRS investment earnings for the fiscal year exceeded 8%.

TRS retirees have not received a permanent pension increase in 10 years, though a supplemental payment was issued in 2007. While that payment was greatly appreciated and helped hundreds of thousands of Texas public education retirees, the fact remains that our members’ buying power has diminished by over 30% since 2001. Larry Gonzales’ unique approach to providing financial relief to retirees would have helped hundreds of thousands of people living on fixed incomes and would not have impacted the state’s general revenue fund.

Our sincere gratitude goes to Representative Gonzales for his repeated efforts in trying to have this legislation passed. While the removal of the amendment is a disappointment, we are grateful to have his support and look forward to working with him again in future sessions.

Thank you to the thousands of TRTA members who have worked hard during both the regular and special sessions, reaching out to legislators and educating them on issues that impact all public education retirees.

If you are not a TRTA member but would like to join in our efforts to defend your TRS benefits, please contact the Texas Retired Teachers Association at 1.800.880.1650. We will be happy to answer all your membership questions.

Again, thank you for all you do to support TRTA.

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