Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education members have closed testimony on the Teacher Retirement System budget request. Thank you to everyone who emailed and voiced your concern to these members asking them to restore cuts to the TRS pension fund and the TRS-Care health insurance program.

Tim Lee, TRTA Executive Director, testified during today’s hearing. TRTA is emphasizing the importance of restoring cuts to the TRS-Care health insurance program.  Earlier in the day, the Teacher Retirement System testified that with a reduction in TRS-Care funding the plan’s projected balance surplus through FY 2014 is $66 million. Managing a health insurance plan with over 200,000 lives and a projected fund balance of $66 million is very difficult to do without considering increasing premiums. TRTA is concerned that the proposed budget cuts will force TRS plan administrators to consider a premium increase in the coming biennium.

TRTA has worked with the legislature for the last 3 sessions to keep retirees from receiving a premium increase. At a time when pension benefits were not increasing, neither were health insurance premiums. This has helped ease the burden on many public education retirees. But, if the proposed budget cuts are not restored to TRS-Care the legislature will be passing the cost of covering those cuts on to you through increased premiums.

Mr. Tom Rogers, TRTA member in Austin, testified that adequately funding the pension trust fund is in the best interest of all Texans. Mr. Rogers discussed the high-value economic impact TRS pensioners generate through spending their pension dollars in Texas. This creates tax revenue for the state and jobs for many thousands of Texans. Mr. Rogers further pointed out that TRS retirees have lost nearly 30 percent of their buying power since the last time retirees received a permanent increase in their pension benefits.

TRTA members are making their voice heard on these cuts and the need to find a way to help retirees this session. Other members of the Austin Retired Teachers Association also appeared before the committee voicing their concerns and registering their position against cutting the budget.

The legislative committee members worked for over 12 hours in yesterday’s hearing. As public testimony in the House subcommittee is now concluded, the TRTA link to communicate with these members has expired. We will, though, continue to advocate for restored funding for the TRS pension trust fund and the TRS-Care health insurance program and will provide you with additional email advocacy campaigns during the session.

Thank you to everyone who sent emails and watched today’s hearing. Your dedication and service to TRTA is greatly appreciated.