30 Mar

TRTA Hosts Successful Convention and Day at the Capitol

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) held its 64th Annual Convention this week in Austin on March 27-28, followed by a rousing day of advocacy at the Texas Capitol on March 29, where nearly 1,500 TRTA members and friends convened to rally and meet with their legislators.

The convention was a two-day affair held at the Hilton Austin packed with information, including committee and officer training sessions and a productive House of Delegates meeting. To download a committee or office resource guide, please visit our website here. TRTA will provide a full update on bylaws amendments in second quarter issue of The VOICE.

Maridell Fryar, TRTA’s former President,
accepted the E.L. Galyean award, TRTA’s highest honor.

On Tuesday, March 28, TRTA held a legislative luncheon for 650 members, featuring a panel led by TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee. Lee started the program, which aired live on Facebook, by discussing the current state of TRS-Care with Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Executive Director Brian Guthrie. A few moments into the panel, Chairman John Zerwas and Chairman Trent Ashby, who lead the Appropriations Committee and Appropriations – Article III Subcommittee respectively, arrived to thunderous applause.

Watch the Legislative Luncheon here:

The luncheon gave members the opportunity to hear directly from legislative leaders who are working to find funding to help with the TRS-Care shortfall. As you may recall, Chairman Zerwas originally filed House Bill 2, a supplemental appropriations bill, which included $500 million for TRS-Care from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. While HB 2 was being used as the vehicle for the TRS-Care funding, the Texas House Appropriations committee has moved this money from HB 2 to HB 1. Next week, the Texas House will debate the budget on the House floor, and TRTA members will be able to support this process by asking their legislators to support the House budget bill. We will report more on this issue as the budget gets closer to floor action.

Chairman Ashby filed House Bill 3976, which would increase the state’s contribution from 1 percent to 1.25 percent of active teacher payroll if adopted.

On Wednesday, March 29, TRTA members from all across the state began arriving at the Texas Capitol, some coming from the Austin Hilton, and hundreds on chartered buses. The enthusiastic crowd of educators wore red shirts, carried red bags and donned specially made buttons that read “Keep TRS-Care Affordable!”

Throughout the day, retirees were honored with proclamations in both the House and the Senate and set up meetings with hundreds of legislators. TRTA is thankful for all the legislators who honored retirees. Watch the House’s proclamations here. Watch the Senate’s proclamations here. At 11:30 a.m., hundreds of retirees gathered on the Capitol’s South Steps for a rousing rally and heard from multiple legislators.

Chairman John Zerwas addressed TRTA members
on the south steps of the Texas Capitol.

TRTA wishes to thank all those legislators who took time out their very busy schedules to speak publicly to our members and meet with them one-on-one. During the rally, TRTA was honored to share the platform with Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville), Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond), Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston), Rep. Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio), Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Denton), Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas) and Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington). Rep. Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) also joined members on the east lawn for a long visit and Amy’s Ice Cream later in the day.

Members, if your legislator took the time to join us during Day at the Capitol, please be sure to send a handwritten thank you note or give them a phone call to let them know you appreciate their support. Day at the Capitol made a huge impression and put hundreds of faces to the very real and challenging issue that is the TRS-Care insurance program.

Now is not the time for TRTA and its members to rest, though! We ARE making progress in both the House and the Senate, and we must continue communicating with our legislators about the importance of health care and retirement security for all current and future public education retirees.

Thank you to each and every member of TRTA for their participation in our convention and Day at the Capitol. Your presence was felt whether you were able to be here in person or not. Thank you to those of you who made phone calls and sent emails, participating virtually and helping us remind legislators to Keep TRS-Care Affordable!

TRTA members flooded the House, Senate and south Capitol steps,
as legislators praised retirees’ work.

Thank You

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.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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22 Mar

TRTA 64th Annual Convention and Day at the Capitol Next Week! Member Action Alert Included!

Click here to send an email to your legislators inviting them to join TRTA for Day at the Capitol on March 29!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is finalizing plans for the 64th Annual TRTA Convention to be held in Austin March 27-28, 2017. Nearly 1,000 retirees are registered for the event already, which is taking place at the Hilton Austin on 500 E. 4thStreet. Convention attendees and many other retirees and pre-retirees are also gearing up for a busy day of grassroots advocacy at the Texas Capitol on March 29!

This year’s convention theme, “TRTA: Teamwork is Key,” is the perfect sentiment that matches TRTA’s drive to succeed during this challenging legislative session in the Texas capital city! Early registration for the convention is now closed. Late, on-site registration will begin on Monday, March 27 at 10:00 a.m. To view the full convention schedule including event locations, please click here.

In addition to conducting the association’s business, such as voting on several bylaws amendments, members will attend a number of training and educational sessions. A complete list of sessions, the descriptions and a schedule are available on our website here.

Legislation is always a key focus of TRTA’s annual conventions, and this year our members are ready to address the looming $1 billion shortfall expected for the TRS-Care health insurance program. During the Legislative Luncheon being held on March 28, members will hear from TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee, Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, Representative Lance Gooden and TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie about what potential solutions are on the table and how it will affect retirees.

Members will also be able to attend a special legislative session that occurs after the House of Delegates on March 28. Legislative Coordinator Bill Barnes will provide updates on the 85th Legislative Session, including what is happening with bills (SB 1750 and SB 1751) that propose changing the TRS defined benefit plan to a 401k-style defined contribution plan. Mr. Barnes will be sharing techniques to help members advocate during TRTA Day at the Capitol on March 29.

For any questions about your registration or delegate certification, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650 or email us at We look forward to seeing you in Austin soon! Please be sure to share our press release about Convention with your fellow retirees and media outlets.

Day at the Capitol: Important Updates!

TRTA Day at the Capitol, which is open to all Convention attendees as well as any member or friend who wishes to join us, will occur on Wednesday, March 29! TRTA is expecting nearly 2,000 attendees for this day of grassroots lobbying. Attendees will receive a bag and materials, including a special button to wear.

TRTA has noted that the weather a week out from this important event is predicted to be rainy! While we are working out details to ensure our visiting members and friends will be as comfortable as possible, we ask that you please consider bringing your umbrellas and appropriate shoes and outerwear for the weather.

For a complete list of Frequently Asked Questions about Day at the Capitol, as well as links to maps and information about parking, please click here!

Don’t forget to invite your legislators to TRTA Day at the Capitol by clicking here!

Thank You

TRTA and its members have the respect of both congressmen and legislators. Your membership is making a difference as we lobby here in Texas and at the U.S. Capitol. We will continue to bring you the latest updates on all issues involving retired educators.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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22 Mar

Senate Finance Committee Update: Proposed Budget Includes $311 Million Towards TRS-Care

The Senate Finance Committee met today, March 22, to finalize Senate Bill 1 (SB1). SB1 will determine the State’s general appropriations for the upcoming biennium. The Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously, 15-0, to approve SB1 and send it to the Senate floor. Senator Jane Nelson, (R-Flower Mound) announced that SB1 will be presented to the full Senate for a vote next Tuesday, March 28.

SB1 includes $311 million for TRS-Care. The funding is a product of savings from other programs identified by the Senate Finance Workgroup on health care costs. The $311 million is enough to cover an increase in the state contribution to TRS-Care. The increase would take the state’s TRS-Care funding from 1 percent of active educator payroll to 1.25 percent. The proposed funding also would provide a small amount to help with the $1 billion TRS-Care budget shortfall. The $311 million is contingent on the passage of Senate Bill 788 by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston), which makes structural changes TRS-Care.

The House’s version of the budget remains in committee and is included in two bills, HB1, the general appropriations bill, and HB2, the supplemental appropriations bill. HB 2 currently contains a $500 million dollar appropriation that is contingent on a vote to access the money in the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF). Accessing the ESF requires a 60 percent vote from both of the Legislature’s houses.

NOW is the critical time to get involved. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is holding its Day at the Capitol on March 29. Get all the details about the event here! Please come if you’re able. Your presence will make a BIG difference.

If you are unable to attend the Day at the Capitol, show your support on March 29 by posting to your legislators’ Facebook and Twitter pages. Encourage your legislators to increase the state funding for TRS-Care, and thank them for their work this session! You can even invite your legislators to attend Day at the Capitol!

Thank You

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.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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