Blog

18 May
0

Full Steam Ahead into the Last Month of Session (Featuring Action Alert!)

Click here to send a short email to your legislator thanking them for their hard work and encouraging them to finish strong for their retired school employee constituents!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) legislative agenda is progressing in the Texas Legislature. TRS-Care, the health insurance program more than 240,000 retired public educators rely upon, is on the verge of receiving $768 million to fund its budget shortfall. We have many people to thank for the attention and urgency legislators applied to the TRS-Care issue.

When the 84th Legislative Session started, TRS-Care was out of money and headed for a potential disaster. Texas legislative leaders and budget writers wasted no time putting forward an idea to fully fund the pending shortfall and protect retirees’ health care for the coming biennium.

The Texas House placed $768 million to fund TRS-Care in the “supplemental appropriation” bill and sent it to the Senate. Rep. John Otto (R – Dayton), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, made two major announcements on the House floor telling his fellow Representatives about the plan. Rep. Joe Straus (R – San Antonio), Speaker of the Texas House, stated on Twitter that the Texas House supports retired teachers!

We are grateful to ALL of the members of the Texas House, especially the dedicated leaders who developed this solution. TRTA will provide more information about this plan and those involved in our upcoming news bulletin review of the legislative session.

The Texas Senate made a special announcement on April 8 to a standing-room only crowd of TRTA members in the Senate gallery at our Day at the Capitol event.

Sen. Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told the crowd the Texas Senate was going to fully fund the TRS-Care shortfall. Her announcement was met with thunderous applause from the audience.

The Texas Legislature has been listening to TRTA members. They appreciate your service and your dedication. We have many friends in the Texas Legislature, but our work is not over!

Final action on the bill that will fund our TRS-Care shortfall has not yet occurred. HB 2 is in the Senate Finance Committee, and we need that legislation to progress to ensure TRS-Care will receive the necessary funding.

TRTA has every reason to believe the Legislature is working in a positive way to support you and this important matter. This action alert is our request to you to encourage your legislator as this session winds down into the final month.

Legislators are still prioritizing your interests. A number of other bills have been filed with the intent to help retirees who did not receive a benefit increase last session. Last session, SB 1458 provided a 3 percent cost-of-living increase to TRS retirees who retired before September 2004.

However, session days are getting long, negotiations on other matters are intense and many interest groups are messaging legislators constantly.

Now is the time to send some words of encouragement to the legislators who started this session by thinking of you and your health care program. Let’s show the Texas Legislature that TRTA appreciates the hard work and support our legislators have provided!

Send your legislator an email thanking them for their hard work by clicking here.

With time left this legislative session, we may still see other actions that will benefit TRS retirees. TRTA will work for you every day; protecting your earned benefits and looking for ways to improve your retirement security.

Thank You!

Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.

Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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08 May
0

Pensions Committee Considering Ways to Help Retirees

During a May 4 meeting, the Texas House Pensions Committee reviewed seven bills that if passed would provide benefit increases for annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) was present at the hearing, with many members attending and testifying. Below is a list of bills that were considered during Monday’s hearing.

  • HB 45 (Martinez, “Mando”): Relating to a cost-of-living increase applicable to benefits paid by TRS.
  • HB 701 (Allen): Relating to certain benefits paid by the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS).
  • HB 1149 (Hernandez): Relating to a cost-of-living increase applicable to benefits paid by TRS.
  • HB 1967 (Keffer): Relating to a supplemental payment for retirees of TRS and the unfunded actuarial liabilities allowed under that system.
  • HB 2873 (Allen): Relating to benefits paid by the TRS.
  • HB 3259 (Herrero): Relating to a cost-of-living adjustment applicable to certain benefits paid by TRS.
  • HB 2974 (Flynn): Relating to contributions to, benefits from, and the administration of systems.

TRTA is grateful to House Pensions Chairman Dan Flynn (R – Canton) for allowing these bills to be heard in committee.

All of the bills reviewed during the hearing were left pending in committee. Several additional steps would be required in order for any of the bills to pass and for TRS retirees to receive some form of benefit increase. The bills must first be passed out of the House committee, voted on by the entire body of the Texas House of Representatives, sent to a Senate Committee and passed out of committee to the entire body of the Texas Senate, then sent to the Governor.

TRTA is working with legislators closely to help retirees, with a focus on finishing that job that was started during the 83rd Legislative Session. As you may recall, Senate Bill 1458 was passed in 2013 and made the TRS pension fund actuarially sound for the first time in many years. As a result of the bill’s passage, more than 200,000 TRS retirees were able to receive their first permanent cost-of-living increase since 2001.

However, more than 100,000 TRS retirees did not benefit from the raise. The TRS pension fund has the capability to provide such an increase to these remaining retirees at this point in time. However, as our members have learned throughout the years, a pension increase can only be approved with action by the Texas Legislature.

TRTA fully supports legislation that would provide some type of benefit increase to TRS annuitants this session. TRS retirees live on fixed incomes and must rely upon action from the Texas Legislature to improve their livelihood. 95% of school districts in Texas do not pay into the federal Social Security program, meaning the vast majority of TRS retirees do not receive additional monthly income beyond their average monthly TRS annuity of $1900.

As the 84th Legislative Session draws to a close, we have much work to do! In the Texas Senate, many of our friends on both sides of the aisle are also considering ways to assist retirees this session. Sen. Jose Menendez (D – San Antonio) is attempting to pass legislation that would help retirees with an actuarially sound benefit increase.

Many other bills are also competing for time on the calendar. We appreciate Sen. Menendez and the members of the Senate who have worked to support ideas helping TRS retirees.

The entire Senate is rallying to the work being done by the Senate Finance Committee and its chairman, Sen. Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound), that addresses our health care funding needs. The Texas House took action last month to fully fund TRS-Care, and the Senate is working on this plan now, as well. TRTA will send a brief update about action on the TRS-Care plan later today.

Thank You!

Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.

Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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27 Apr
0

TRTA Requesting Your Support in Passage of State and Congressional Bills (Featuring Video Content Including Tim Lee and Bill Barnes)

The Texas Legislative Session ends in 38 days. The funding bill for the 84th Texas Legislature is in its final phases, and it will include approximately $770 million toward TRS-Care, the health care program more than 240,000 retired public school educators rely upon.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is asking you to call 1-888-674-3788 and thank your legislator for supporting TRS-Care. The importance of staying in contact with legislators cannot be understated, as they are the gateways through which bills are passed. The strength of TRTA lies in the active participation of our dedicated members. Your contributions are the reason why we are able work with the legislature and find the necessary funding for TRS-Care.

Show Your Support for HR 711

Additionally, now is a good time to contact your U.S. Congressman about HR 711. HR 711 is a bill to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which reduces the ability of public educators to receive Social Security. Congressman Kevin Brady (R – Texas) has filed the bill, which provides a more fair formula for Social Security calculations. However, HR 711 requires the support of other congressional members to advance.

The passage of HR 711 would represent a huge victory for the retirement benefits of public educators, firemen and police officers across the nation. Please show your support for this bill by making sure your Congressman has signed on to it.

TRTA is finalizing a “Support for HR 711” Inside Line that will be released later this week. It will have pointers on contacting Congressional members, major points that should be made, and a fact page for your use.

Making a phone call to your Congressman’s office will help draw more attention to this issue as advocacy campaigns supporting the adoption of this important bill are revving up all over the country.

Thank You!

Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.

Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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