Blog

30 Sep
0

Cost-of-Living Increase Going Into Effect October 1

Click Here to Send Your Legislators a “Thank You!” Letter and remind them there is still much work still to be done for ALL TRS Retirees!

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, 200,000 public education retirees in Texas will receive their first permanent cost-of-living increase since 2001. This is the result of the passage of Senate Bill 1458, which was conceived and completed during the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature this year.

SB 1458 provides for a cost-of-living increase of 3% (not to exceed $100 per month) for retirees of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) who retired as of August 31, 2004 or before. If you fall into this category, you will see the increase in your annuity in your October paycheck.

SB 1458 was authored by Senator Robert Duncan and Representative Bill Callegari. After months of discussion between legislators, TRTA, and active teacher groups, the bill’s final version passed unanimously in both houses of the Texas Legislature. The support that was shown for retirees this past session was astounding!

Not only did SB 1458 provide financial relief for most retirees, it made the pension fund actuarially sound for the first time in many years. According to state law, pension increases such as the COLA being provided in October are not possible legally unless the pension fund is actuarially sound.

Being actuarially sound is very important not just to provide increases for retirees, but to preserve the fund for the long term. TRTA’s primary goal is to ensure that the TRS fund remains intact for all current and future retirees and that the defined benefit plan is maintained. A defined benefit plan ensures retirees an income for the rest of their lives, as opposed to a defined contribution plan which retirees can outlive. This is especially important since most Texas school employees have little or no Social Security as part of their retirement.

For this reason, TRTA believes it is important that we show our appreciation to all of our Texas legislators! Some of you may not have received the COLA this year, but because the fund is stable, the likelihood of future increases for more retirees is significantly higher.
TRTA has not forgotten about you, and we continue to work even now talking to legislators about increases for ALL TRS retirees in future sessions.

Please take a moment to send a note of thanks to your legislators today! (click here to send email)

The work of TRTA members is never done, and though we achieved a major victory this past legislative session, we have several issues that must be addressed now. Our next focus must be on the TRS-Care health insurance program. Over 200,000 retirees and their dependents rely on this program, which is expected to have a shortfall of over $1 billion within the next two to three years.

Now is the time to get in touch with your legislators and ask them about their plans for protecting TRS-Care. Is it vital that you share your opinions with them about what changes to the program you can and cannot accept. It is very possible that a restructuring of TRS-Care could lead to a reduction in benefits, an increase in premiums, or both!

Take advantage of your legislator’s presence in your home district to call them or set up an appointment to meet with them.

Thank you for being a member of the nation’s largest organization of public education retirees! If you are not a member of TRTA and are interested in joining in our grassroots efforts to improve benefits for all TRS retirees, please contact us a 1.800.880.1650.

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26 Jul
0

Breaking News! TRS Board Meets and Approves Resolution to Implement Cost-of-Living Increase

Breaking News!

TRS Board Meets and Approves Resolution to Implement Cost-of-Living Increase

TRTA Urges Discussion on TRS-Care

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met in Austin for their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, July 26. Numerous items relating to the TRS pension fund, its investment performance, TRS policies and more were discussed.

Perhaps the most significant action taken by the TRS Board was the approval of a resolution directing the TRS staff to implement the cost-of-living increase for qualifying retirees in accordance with the passage of SB 1458 this last legislative session. Retirees who retired as of August 31, 2004 or before will receive a 3% increase (not to exceed $100 per month by statute). The increase is projected to be effective for the September annuity payment (which is received in October).

The TRS Board also adopted a resolution that maintains the TRS-Care health insurance plan and its benefit structure for the coming fiscal year. In addition, the TRS Board is maintaining premiums for all TRS-Care participants. TRTA has worked hard to ensure that the TRS-Care program is an affordable, quality benefit for participants. We have worked with the TRS Board and the Legislature to maintain this plan and safeguard the premium structure. Today’s decision by the TRS Board marks 9 years that premiums have not increased. This would not have been possible without the hard work of our TRTA members!

It was also reported today that TRS-Care will have exhausted its reserve funding completely sometime in FY 2016. Projections are that the plan will experience a near $1 billion shortfall in FY 2017. Tim Lee, TRTA Executive Director, addressed the TRS Board on this matter. “We can all agree that we enjoyed a successful 83rd Legislative Session, but TRTA’s attention is turning to the TRS-Care program and what may come in the 84th Legislative Session,” Lee said. The TRS-Care program covers over 235,000 TRS retirees and dependents. “We must be proactive and begin discussing the various proposals to our TRS-Care funding issues. TRTA is ready to work on these issues now and to bring stakeholders together to address them in advance of the next legislative session,” he concluded.

Finally, the TRS Board recognized two trustees whose terms have now expired. Ms. Charlotte Clifton, who serves as one of the active member trustees, and Mr. Eric McDonald, who serves as a trustee with financial expertise, concluded their duties with TRS. Both trustees have served since 2008 and entered their service during some of the most difficult financial times in our nation’s history. They helped lead the system during those challenging times, and the fund has benefited tremendously from their leadership and steadfast commitment to all TRS members. TRTA greatly appreciates the work, dedication, and public service that Ms. Clifton and Mr. McDonald have given to TRS over the years.

TRTA will continue to monitor the implementation of the TRS cost-of-living adjustment and the issues surrounding our TRS-Care program. Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association. We are making a strong case for protecting and improving the benefits for all TRS retirees. While we have accomplished much, there is still more we must do! Your dedication is the reason TRTA is successful.

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17 Jun
0

Breaking News: Gubernatorial Action on SB 1458

Breaking News: Gubernatorial Action on SB 1458

Governor Rick Perry Signs SB 1458 into Law

Over 1.3 million TRS retired and active members can rest a little easier tonight knowing that Governor Rick Perry has officially signed SB 1458, the “TRS Actuarial Soundness Bill” into law.

Texas Retired Teacher Association (TRTA) members have been working on this legislation for a long time, and your efforts have paid off.

TRTA members sent over 115,000 emails in support of this legislation during the regular session. Tens of thousands of phone calls, and hundreds of personal visits to legislators have helped carry this legislation through to its final step and become law.

Your TRS fund will now be actuarially sound!

TRS is already working to implement the 3 percent cost of living increase for over 195,000 TRS retirees whose retirement date was August 31, 2004 or before. That programming could be done late this summer so that retirees will see the increase in their September annuity payment (received around the first of October 2013).

Those TRS retirees not receiving the annuity increase as part of this legislation should know that the fund’s improving actuarial condition will help pave the way for future increases for all retirees. TRTA will continue to fight for all TRS retirees to receive an increase in their annuity!

These actuarial soundness measures make your TRS Texas pension fund one of the healthiest, best funded, and most solid defined benefit plans in the country! The work done by TRTA, our friends in the Legislature, and our partners in the active educator community will have generational impact for the benefit of all current and future TRS retirees!

Now, let’s tell our story! Let your friends, former colleagues, and everyone know that TRTA fought for them this session. We did not give up! We have never given up! TRTA members have stood strong even in those years when it seemed this day may never come!

Your work, your dedication, your willingness to stand up and fight for this important legislation have paved the way for a better future for all retired public education employees.

While we know that the attacks on our fund have not died and that we will face major health care funding challenges next session, let’s all take a moment to thank our friends who made this possible and take the time to recognize what a great accomplishment this is for all TRS members.

Let’s also reflect on all those TRTA members who worked so hard to help us get to this moment and may no longer be with us to enjoy the victory. We have all been in this together for many years and those efforts have helped make your TRS fund actuarially sound!

On behalf of the TRTA Board of Directors and the TRTA staff, I want to thank every TRTA member, TRS retiree, active educator, legislator, agency staffer, friend, and TRTA supporter. Your support is appreciated more than we can say. Well done.

If you are not a TRTA member and want to join in our proven advocacy efforts to support all TRS retirees, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650, or by email to info@trta.org. We will be happy to answer any membership questions you may have.

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