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03 Mar
0

Primary Election Day is Tomorrow, March 4!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 4 is Primary Election day in Texas. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been spreading the message that voting in the Primary Election is of vital importance to all of our members and all public education retirees in the state!

An article by Bud Kennedy featured in the Ft. Worth Star Telegramreiterates how few voters turn out for the Primary Election in Texas. In fact, states Kennedy, “in the last five gubernatorial primaries, 3 to 6 percent of Texas voters chose our state’s leaders.

This means YOUR VOTE MATTERS! TRTA has 80,000 members and represents the voices of over 300,000 retirees and more than 800,000 pre-retirees in Texas! We must use our influence and VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION!

It is essential that we elect Senators and Representatives that support TRS-Care and the TRS pension fund. In our previous Voter Health Series articles, we discussed several contested and open seats in the Primary election. A large number of our elected officials will be NEW or have less than two years of experience by the time the next legislative session begins in January 2015.

Please review these races and determine if you are impacted! The Texas Tribune Elections Bracket can help you determine who is running for office in your area.

Please also use the valuable Teach the Vote resource from the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) to review candidates’ responses to important questions about education and TRS. Teach the Vote can be found by clicking here.

When you vote tomorrow, you must vote in your precinct. To determine your polling location, please visit the Texas Secretary of State website by clicking here.

Per the website, you may select one of three methods to do a polling place search: search by 1. your Texas driver’s license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration; 2. your Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate; or 3. your first and last name.

Please encourage your fellow retirees, family members and friends to come out and vote in the Primary Election. Arrange a car pool of neighbors and go to the polling location together!

Most political races in Texas are determined DURING THE PRIMARY ELECTION, not the November General Election! As Bud Kennedy reminds us in his article, “the stakes are high…but voter interest is low.

As a public education retiree in Texas, you know that the TRS pension fund and the TRS-Care health insurance program are necessary for your retirement security. With TRS-Care facing a $1 billion shortfall in the next biennium, the stakes are extremely high! Your voter interest should also be very high!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Remember, you are a valued member of our organization, and your vote in the Primary Election is also valuable! Use your power and vote! If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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28 Feb
0

Today is the Final Day of Early Voting!

Today, February 28, is the final day to vote early in the 2014 Texas Primary Election! Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have done a great job in the past few weeks researching candidates, sharing information with fellow retirees and getting out to vote!

If you have not yet had the opportunity to vote and hope to do so today, please know that you do not have to vote in your precinct. You may vote at any location convenient for you within your county. Review early voting locations in your area here.

It is essential that we elect Senators and Representatives that support TRS-Care and the TRS pension fund. In our previous Voter Health Series articles, we discussed several contested and open seats in the Primary election. A large number of our elected officials will be NEW or have less than two years of experience by the time the next legislative session begins in January 2015.

Please review these races and determine if you are impacted! The Texas Tribune Elections Bracket can help you determine who is running for office in your area.

You still have the opportunity to vote next Tuesday, March 4 as well. Please use your influence and cast your vote!

Very few voters make it out during the Primary, but this is when your vote counts the most! Most political races in Texas are determined DURING THE PRIMARY ELECTION, not the November General Election!

Even if you are not a constituent in one of the districts mentioned in our contested and open seat races, your vote still matters! So do the votes of your fellow retirees, friends, neighbors and family! It is likely that only about 10% of residents (or less!) in your town will vote in this election cycle.

The votes of even 10 to 100 more people can drastically alter the results of a race. The votes of 80,000 public education retirees WILL make a difference!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Remember, you are a valued member of our organization, and your vote in the Primary Election is also valuable! Use your power and vote! If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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27 Feb
0

Urgent Cause for Concern: Office Seekers Should Clarify Reported Pledges to Outside Groups

Early voting continues this week for the Texas Primary Election. Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have been contacting candidates and communicating with each other about the need for Texas Senators and Representatives who will support the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

Recently, the Dallas Morning News featured an article about a new political action committee (PAC) called the Accountability First PAC. In an article dated February 7, 2014, authors Robert T. Garrett and David Barer state that this PAC is putting money behind certain candidates in an effort to prevent the re-election of several incumbents. Author Garrett also provided an update on the PAC via his blog earlier this week.
The blog reports:

“A new, fiscally conservative group that is trying to extend influence in Republican state House primaries has tipped its hand on which GOP incumbents it most wants to topple. All three are in North Texas.

The Accountability First PAC is spending heavily to defeat Reps. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington; Bennett Ratliff, R-Coppell; and Angie Chen Button, R-Garland, according to the group’s latest report to the Texas Ethics Commission.”

It is reported in the article and the blog post that Accountability First has asked the candidates it is endorsing to “sign a pledge promising strict adherence to spending limits and opposition to tax increases.” Furthermore, it is mentioned that “signers vow that if they violate the pledge, they won’t seek re-election.”

Below is the Dallas Morning News report of Accountability First PAC support for various office seekers:

1) Tony Tinderholt, challenging Diane Patrick in House District 94, $39,319;
2) Matt Rinaldi, challenging Bennett Ratliff, in HD 115  $33,899;
3) Jared Patterson, challenging Angie Chen Button in HD 112,  $31,861;
4) Matt Beebe, challenging Speaker Joe Straus in HD 131, $11,619;
5) Justin Perryman, seeking an open Houston seat, $10,661;
6) Former Rep. Rodney Anderson, challenging Rep. Linda Harper-Brown in HD 105, $10,120;
7) Philip Eby, who wants retiring Rep. Rob Orr’s seat in Johnson and Bosque counties, $9,432;
8) Former Collin County Commissioner Matt Shaheen, seeking Van Taylor’s open seat, $8,135;
9) Ted Seago, seeking an open seat in Montgomery County, north of Houston, $8,117;
10) T.J. Fabby, who’s trying to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Pitts in HD 10, $7,883;
11) Read King, challenging Rep. Myra Crownover in Denton County’s HD 64, $7,727; and
12) Cullen Crisp, challenging Rep. Jim Keffer in west-central Texas’ HD 60, $7,470.

Why does this pledge cause concern for members of TRTA?

As many of you have read recently in our Inside Line e-newsletter, the TRS-Care health insurance program is facing a funding shortfall of $1 billion in the next biennium. The urgency of this crisis cannot be overstated.

We all want efficiencies in government, but does signing this pledge restrict potential legislators from considering options that may be needed to address our health care crisis? Is the purpose of “strict enforcement” meant to reduce funding for public schools, which also reduces funding for TRS-Care and the pension fund?

Although TRTA does not endorse candidates for political office and does not have a PAC of its own, we must be cognizant of the candidates’ positions on issues affecting TRS and our retirement benefits.

In order for the $1 billion TRS-Care shortfall to be addressed and for our retirees to maintain their vital health care program, our Legislature will have to consider increased spending as an option.

A legislator who may have a closed door policy when it comes to discussing putting more money into a program that 250,000 retirees and their dependents rely upon may be unwilling to work with TRTA to resolve this crisis.

We simply do not know the official stance regarding TRS-Care and the TRS fund of each candidate supported by Accountability First or any other pledge-restricting PAC donor.

TRTA respects our members’ involvement in the political process. This organization strives to work with ALL elected officials. Our record in the Texas Legislature is one of strength in supporting our members’ interests and working in the legislative process to benefit all public education retirees.

However, there is a BIG difference between the legislative process and the POLITICAL process.Right now, we are discussing the political process. Office seekers want your vote. We will need their help and support during the legislative process. If they are ruling out helping TRS retirees during the political process, there may be little to no incentive for them to work with us during the legislative process.

We need you. PLEASE contact these office seekers directly and ask if they have made a pledge to any organization that limits their ability to vote for increased funding for our retiree health care program!

If you cannot reach the candidate you want to speak to directly, ask their campaign staff to answer your questions or to get an answer for you from the candidate. Your vote is the most powerful tool in BOTH the political process and the legislative process. If a candidate for office wants your vote, you need to know if they will unequivocally support your interests next legislative session.

We also encourage you to talk to your fellow TRTA members and ask them who they are voting for and why. Click here to see more information about TRTA’s vast statewide local unit network. Use www.google.com to search for a candidate and his or her website and to locate contact information.

If you are considering supporting one of these candidates, it is important that you find out what his or her position is regarding funding the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.The Texas Tribune Elections Bracket can help you determine who is running for office in your area.

Empower yourself with this knowledge, and be sure you VOTE IN THIS PRIMARY ELECTION!YOUR VOTE MATTERS. Even a handful of votes can sway the results of a Primary Election. TRTA, with its nearly 80,000 members, has the ability to influence elections if all our members cast their votes!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Remember, you are a valued member of our organization, and your vote in the Primary Election is also valuable! Use your power and vote! If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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