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20 Sep
0

Breaking: TRS Makes No Changes to TRS-Care Benefits

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees is holding meetings today and tomorrow. The board was considering increasing premiums to non-Medicare retirees by $50 per month.

However, TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie has stated that the staff recommendation is to not increase these monthly premiums. Since the benefits committee didn’t act on the proposal to increase premiums, the board won’t increase or change the benefits structure.

Guthrie updated the Benefits Committee on the improved status of TRS-Care. He said that the fund is facing a $238 million budget shortfall. This figure is on the smaller side of previously projected ranges, which were between $400-$600 million.

As a result of the lower figure, and letters from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Joan Huffman (R – Houston), as well as support from Sen. Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound), Guthrie stated that the perceived legislative intent was to help fill the shortfall during the upcoming legislative session.

“Now that the projections are significantly better this year than they were last year… we received feedback that the legislative intent has changed,” Guthrie said. “We trust the legislative process.”

Guthrie attributed the improved number to contract negotiations. TRS-Care also received additional federal reimbursements this year. TRS released the following statement on the issue:

“While working on plan year 2019 contract negotiations with Humana, the current third-party administrator of TRS-Care Medicare Advantage; TRS got an improved rate from Humana – TRS’ risk group resulted in enhanced revenue from CMS to Humana, thus allowing TRS to reduce the rate it pays Humana.”

If the Legislature doesn’t make any changes to TRS-Care funding, it’s likely that TRS will increase premiums, or make other benefit changes, during a board meeting following the legislative session.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) will continue to keep its members informed about the nature of the TRS-Care budget shortfall. Stay tuned to the Inside Line for continued updates on this issue.

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18 Sep
0

Countdown to the General Election – Voting is Good for You!

Texas Educators Vote recently posted a message about the health benefits of civic engagement. It included this recent TIME magazine article about a study that linked registering to vote, voting, and civic engagement to healthier lifestyles for young adults.

This is yet another great reason to help high school students get registered to vote! Voting may also add a couple of years to your life, as does volunteering by encouraging young voters to get to the polls.

TRTA Local Units are Getting with the Program

Last week, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) asked readers to send some examples of the work our local units and districts are doing to encourage voter registration among TRTA members. Here are just two of the many projects we know are happening statewide to encourage educators to get involved in this election.

District 4 used the information from the Inside Line and customized it for their members, telling them where they can request registration cards and mail-in ballots. District 4 cited voter registration statistics for their region and set a challenge of 100 percent registration of TRTA members by October 9. Check out District 4’s email by clicking here!

The Eastern Cass County unit put together a brochure with voter statistics, resources and information about why the retired educator vote is critical in this election. They included the strength of the education vote and election dates. View the brochure by clicking here.

Many great activities are happening across the state and we know many TRTA members are working hard to get out the voting message to educators everywhere in Texas. Feel free to share your efforts with us and keep up the good work.

National Voter Registration Day

National Voter Registration Day is next Tuesday, September 25! The Texas League of Women Voters is leading the way. The League does not mess around when they say they are “Making Democracy Work in Texas!”

Here is a quote from the League’s website that explains what this day is all about:

  • “On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, volunteers and organizations from all over the country will ‘hit the streets’ in a single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts. National Voter Registration Day seeks to create broad awareness of voter registration opportunities to reach tens of thousands of voters who may not register otherwise.”

You can sign up here to volunteer and find out more about what they are doing.

Here are some additional links from the site that facilitate voter education and registration:

At non-profit, non-partisan websites like www.Register2vote.org, it takes just two minutes to request that a registration card be sent to your mailbox. You don’t even need a printer! If you provide your information, a card that is pre-filled with your name and address and a stamped envelope is mailed to you. Just sign it and drop it in the mail!

Thanks to the many TRTA members for all the work you are doing across the state. We hope you find these resources helpful and we appreciate any examples from TRTA local units that are shared with us.

We are 22 days away from the voter registration deadline! Keep up the good work, and let’s not let District 4 get all the glory. Let’s see if we can get 100 percent of all TRTA members in every district registered to vote for the November 6 General Election.

Next week, TRTA will discuss resources that allow you to research.

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11 Sep
0

Countdown to the General Election – Today is Patriot Day!

Today is Patriot Day! Patriot Day is an annual observance held on September 11 to remember those who were injured or passed away during the terrorist attacks in the United States on the same date in 2001.

Patriot Day is an opportunity to remember what our country stands for and how we come together during times of great tragedy. It is a time to reflect on the values we share as a nation and the sacrifices made for those values. Democracy is dynamic, requiring direct attention by the people who live under its laws to sustain the hope it represents. That is why it’s so important to come together to select the nation’s leaders and to exercise our right to vote.

LET’S GET READY TO VOTE!

Registration

You can’t vote if you are not registered! According to our data, about 74 percent of TRTA members are registered to vote. Let’s work to make it 100 percent before October 9!

You can use this resource to register to vote.

We will have more on voter registration activities in coming weeks. Many TRTA local units are working diligently to register voters at schools and local meetings. Send us your local unit’s story and we may put it on the TRTA website or Facebook page!

National Voter Registration Day is September 25. Learn more by clicking here.

Voting by Mail (Absentee Balloting)

If you, your friends, or your family members are over the age of 65 or disabled, you may vote from the comfort of home! Many elderly citizens miss the chance to vote every year because they don’t know about voting by mail or don’t have someone who can assist them with the process. Many TRTA members can take advantage of this early voting option, but some may need a little assistance.

Unfortunately, this process involves some tricky steps and can be difficult to follow. You may be able to help others who wish to vote but are confused by the process. Click here to view some helpful hints, including all the steps and deadlines. Be sure to read all the rules if you will be assisting someone with absentee balloting.

Here is how mail balloting works:

  1. Request an application and follow the steps by clicking here or here (one will be mailed to you or you can download the application).
  2. Address your application to the Early Voting Clerk in your county. Applications mailed to an address other than the Early Voting Clerk may be rejected.
  3. A ballot will be sent to you. Fill out the ballot and mail it in during early voting.
  4. Make sure you follow all the rules and use your time wisely.
  5. Ballots must arrive in the Election Clerk’s office by 7:00 p.m. on November 6, but some special cases apply. It is much more reliable to mail the ballot during the first week of early voting.

You are eligible to vote by mail if you are:

  • Age 65 or older;
  • Disabled;
  • Out of the county on election day and during the period for early voting by personal appearance; or
  • Confined in jail, but otherwise eligible.

Let’s use every option available to register every Texas educator and help them accomplish the important civic duty of voting! On Patriot Day, take the Educator’s Oath to Vote and pledge to help others do the same! Click here to take the oath.

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