Blog

03 May
0

TRTA Must Not Stop!

Bill’s Supporters Grow (TRTA, ATPE, TASA all support SB 1458!)

Click Here to Send an Email Supporting SB 1458/Phone Calls Needed!! Contact Information Provided Below!!!

Today may be a critical day for the long-term health of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund, and could set TRS on a path to providing raises to its retirees in desperate need. Call the senators listed at the end of this message. Call your fellow TRTA members, ask them to help get involved. Now is the time to make a major push!

SB 1458 has been improved to ensure:

  • Long-term actuarial soundness for TRS;
  • Increased contributions from all participants including the state, active members, and school districts;
  • All contribution levels are linked, meaning that the state will have a hard time lowering its commitment to the fund in the future;
  • Provides a cost of living increase for TRS retirees who retired 1999 or before;
  • These are people who retired prior to the full implementation of the Rule of 80;
  • The Rule of 80 was adopted in 1997, but its real impact began a few years later. Many of the retirees in this population (1999 and before) were long-term employees that worked for much less money and receive small pensions. They may have taken a significant cut in their retirement because they had no Rule of 80 to assist them in an early retirement situation;
  • Over 102,000 retirees will benefit this session;
  • Additional raises will be possible as the system’s actuarial condition improves and can do so without relying solely on stock market gains;
  • Under existing statute, NO RETIREE WILL GET ANY COST-OF-LIVING INCREASE SO LONG AS THE SYSTEM IS NOT ABLE TO AMORTIZE ITS UNFUNDED LIABILITY WITHIN 31 YEARS (the statute TRS must meet to be considered actuarially sound and provide COLAs);
  • THIS IS THE ONLY LEGISLATION IN OVER 15 YEARS THAT HAS BROUGHT ALL THESE COMPONENTS TOGETHER IN SUCH A WAY TO MAKE THE FUND SOUND NOW;
  • Some groups oppose this bill for various reasons, but everyone needs to know that this legislation grandfathers every vested employee from any pension cuts!

If these provisions are not passed, will active employees benefit if the fund’s condition continues to deteriorate?

The Legislature’s track record has been to cut and make drastic changes during the tough times. We cannot “wait-and-see” if there is better deal to be made four or five years from now. Too much is at stake for our active employees and retirees.

The very existence of our defined benefit plan may be the price we pay if we do not give full support to this bill.

TRTA does not want to see any cuts for any employees. That’s why TRTA has worked so hard with our friends in the active community and the legislature. SB 1458 protects the earned benefits of all vested employees and gives another year for current employees to fully vest (five years of service).

Non-vested employees will not retire for at least two decades or more. TRTA, our friends in the active community and the Legislature will have additional opportunities to improve their retirement benefits over the next two decades.

Now is the time for action! The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), and the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) SUPPORT SB 1458.

If you support preserving the defined benefit plan for all current active employees, providing immediate help to lower-income retirees in desperate need, and putting TRS on a path to help all retirees in future sessions, THIS IS A BILL TO SUPPORT.

LEGISLATORS, DO NOT GO BACK TO YOUR DISTRICT KNOWING YOU COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING TO MAKE THE SYSTEM ACTUARIALLY SOUND AND HELP OVER 100,000 RETIREES IN NEED. PUT TRS ON A LONG-TERM PATH TO HELPING ALL OF ITS MEMBERS!

TRTA members, we are getting help from many other groups and organizations that are looking at the facts and are focused on the big picture: protecting the plan.

YOU are the real muscle behind this bill. While it isn’t perfect, it is very good. Help is possible with this legislation. Without it, our efforts to help current and future retirees will be very challenging.

Please do all in your power to send a strong message to the Senate that this bill MUST pass.

Thank you for all you do. Please continue to call these senators:

 

  • Davis (D-Ft. Worth, Undecided) 512.463.0110/1.888.674.3788;
  • Ellis (D-Houston, Undecided) 512.463.0113/1.888.674.3788;
  • Garcia (D-Houston, Undecided) 512.463.0106/1.888.674.3788;
  • updated Hinojosa (D-McAllen, Undecided) 512.463.0120/1.888.674.3788;
  • Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville, Undecided) 512.463.0127/1.888.674.3788;
  • Rodriguez (D-El Paso, Undecided) 512.463.0129/1.888.674.3788;
  • updated Uresti (D-San Antonio, Undecided) 512.463.0119/1.888.674.3788;
  • updated Van de Putte (D-San Antonio, Undecided) 512.463.0126/1.888.674.3788;
  • Watson (D-Austin, Undecided) 512.463.0114/1.888.674.3788;
  • West (D-Dallas, Undecided) 512.463.0123/1.888.674.3788;
  • updated Zaffirini (D-Laredo, Undecided) 512.463.0121/1.888.674.3788

Editor’s note: These senators are not “against” TRTA or “against” helping TRS retirees. Many of them are our long-time friends and supporters. This is a big bill with lots of impact. Many of these offices just want to know they are doing the right thing. It is our responsibility to educate them in a very positive way that this is the bill that helps protect TRS and gives all retirees hope that we are now on a path to help all TRS retirees!

Read More
03 May
0

Bill Helping TRS and Retirees Delayed Again, Discussions Ongoing

Bill Helping TRS and Retirees Delayed Again, Discussions Ongoing

TRTA Members Described as Powerful and Influential Advocates!

(New email campaign…click here)

Thank you TRTA members! Your advocacy over the last two days has been second to none. While we did not see action on SB 1458 again today, your voice has been heard. I have received numerous calls from Senate members asking questions about this bill and wanting more information. I have been told on SEVERAL occasions that TRTA members are knowledgeable, pleasant, passionate and very effective.

I do not have the words to express our sincere appreciation to you for all of your hard work. You are making a big difference!

The Senate will not be back in session until Monday. TRTA is recommending that everyone send emails over the weekend (click here). Many Senate offices will be closed until then, so feel free to maintain email communications and resume calls next week (let’s all get some rest and be READY FOR NEXT WEEK!!). TRTA will provide an update about advocacy efforts after the weekend with phone numbers and a new email campaign.

As always, TRTA appreciates your ongoing support. We are working to pass legislation that will keep your TRS fund sound and provide retirees with a benefit increase! Thank you for all that you do.

Read More
02 May
0

BREAKTHROUGH: Compromise on TRS Bills Offers Big Improvements!

!!TRTA MEMBER ACTION ALERT!!

BREAKTHROUGH: Compromise on TRS Bills Offers Big Improvements!

More Retirees Could Receive Raise; All Vested Actives Grandfathered

Call Your Senator Beginning at 8 a.m. Tomorrow (Thursday, May 2, 2013)

TRTA Call Your Legislator Hotline:

1.888.674.3788

(Click here to send an email, BUT know that phone calls tomorrow are IMPERATIVE)

The Texas Senate is preparing to consider SB 1458 as early as tomorrow, Thursday, May 2, 2013. State Senator Robert Duncan met with TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee today to explain his new compromise proposal for SB 1458.

This new proposal:

  • Provides a 3% cost-of-living raise for all retirees who were retired as of 1999 or earlier;
  • Makes the TRS pension fund actuarially sound;
  • Keeps the fund actuarially sound so that more retirees can receive raises in the future;
  • Grandfathers ALL vested (those with 5 years of service or more) TRS active employees from having to retire under a Rule of 80 and a minimum age 62 requirement;
  • Raises the active contribution rate to 7.7%;
  • Raises the school district contribution rate to 1.5% (for those school districts not already paying into Social Security program);
  • And raises the state contribution rate to 6.8% (for a total combined employer contribution rate of 8.3%).

This bill continues to gain support and momentum. Chairman Duncan is working hard to get the fund actuarially sound and help retirees. At least one active educator organization now supports SB 1458!

TRTA is also working hard to improve this bill by working to keep active employees’ retirement benefits intact. TRTA has taken a lead on expanding the COLA for more retirees! Making the system sound is a HUGE step to helping ALL retirees as quickly as possible.

These changes will help our TRS defined benefit plan stay a defined benefit! It grandfathers all VESTED active employees (those with 5 years of service or more) from the minimum age 62 requirement.

TRTA continues to work to make the bill better.

NOW, WE NEED YOU! If you want TRS retirees to get a raise, please support this bill.

If you retired after 1999 and are discouraged, we understand your concern. We are working every day to make this bill better. The bill does make the fund actuarially sound and increases all funding sources. This will help TRS give increases in the future! This opportunity cannot elude us!

If this bill dies, retirees will have little hope of getting anything this session. TRS will fall further behind in its actuarial condition. The possibility of any COLAs in the future will diminish greatly. Doing nothing is the worst possible scenario!

Please, call your Senator beginning tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Use the TRTA Legislator Hotline number: 1.888.674.3788. We need every Senator to vote “Yes!” on SB 1458 using the floor substitute by Senator Duncan.

TRTA MEMBERS, PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATOR! Let them know “I am a member of TRTA and I want you to support the floor substitute for SB 1458 that gives retirees a raise, makes the fund sound, and grandfathers all vested active employees from any retirement reductions!”

You can also click here to send an email to your Senator (please do this as soon as you receive this email and be ready to make phone calls tomorrow!).

Phone calls tomorrow are more needed than emails. This is one of those times that phone calls are VERY important! If you do not know who your senator is, please click here!

We will update you on the Senate’s progress tomorrow. Thank you for being a member of TRTA. If you are not a member and want information about joining our advocacy efforts, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

Read More