13 Apr 2016

TRTA 63rd Annual Convention Starts This Weekend!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is finalizing plans for the 63rd Annual TRTA Convention to be held in Houston April 10-12, 2016. More than 1,000 retirees are registered for the event already, which is taking place at the Westin Galleria on 5060 West Alabama.

This year’s theme, “Hearts of Texas: TRTA Proud,” focuses on the strength and dedication of TRTA’s 257 local units and their homegrown, grassroots advocacy. Late registration for the Convention is open online, and will be available onsite beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 10. To view the full convention schedule, please click here.

In addition to conducting the business of the association, such as officer elections and bylaws amendment considerations, members will attend a number of training and educational sessions. A complete list of sessions, their descriptions and a schedule are available on our website here.

Legislation is always a key focus of our annual conventions, and despite 2016 being an interim year when the Legislature is not convening, our members are ready to address the looming $1.5 billion shortfall expected for the TRS-Care health insurance program in 2017. During the Legislative Luncheon being held on April 12, members will hear from TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie and area Senators Joan Huffman and John Whitmire about potential solutions to the TRS-Care shortfall in 2017.

Although the Legislative Luncheon is sold out already, the panel discussion will be broadcast live in the Galleria Ballroom on Level 3. All convention attendees will have the opportunity to hear this important information, which begins at 12:15 p.m. on April 12.

Members will also have the chance to hear from Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) during Opening Ceremonies on Monday, April 11. Brady will discuss progress on The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (HR 711). HR 711 is a bill that proposes to replace the current Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) with a newer, fairer formula. To learn more about the WEP and HR 711, visit this page.

Once again, TRTA will have a Diamond Plus booth, found in the exhibit hall in the same area on Level 4 where registration will occur. Diamond Plus, a value-added program for members of TRTA, offers a permanent membership card, personalized attention and hassle-free membership renewals.

Members who pay their dues via payroll deduction or bank draft already are participants in Diamond Plus. Attendees who renew their dues for the 2016-2017 year via one of these methods can join Diamond Plus while at Convention by visiting the Diamond Plus booth. All current and new Diamond Plus participants attending Convention will also be entered in a prize drawing, with winners announced after Convention.

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 Houston soon! Please be sure to share our press release about Convention with your fellow retirees and media outlets.

Thank You

Convention is sure to provide TRTA a platform for learning and growing as an organization. We look forward to seeing you in Houston.

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

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30 Mar 2016

TRS-Care Joint Committee Meets as TRTA Hosts Rally at Capitol

“I’m just chock-full of good news today,” joked Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Executive Director Brian Guthrie after eliciting several prolonged sighs from members of the TRS-Care Joint Committee.

The TRS-Care Joint Committee is a sub-committee of the Texas Legislature charged with studying the TRS-Care health insurance program. The committee is comprised of three Senators and three Representatives, who heard testimony for three hours concerning TRS-Care’s financial instability.

The health care program will face a funding shortfall of $1.6 billion by the start of the 2018-19 fiscal year according to Guthrie. Guthrie and the legislators reviewed options to solve this funding crisis. The funding shortfall has been caused by a discrepancy between the amount of money being put into the program, which is tied to active teacher payroll, and rising health care costs.

TRTA members testified about the importance
of TRS-Care to the committee.

To read the TRS presentation, click here. To re-watch the meeting, click here.

More than 200 members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) were present during the meeting, which was standing room only and required an overflow room to be provided.

As TRTA members rallied before the meeting, four legislators came to thank the educators for their public service. Representatives Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio), Dan Flynn (R-Canton), Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) all came to greet the TRTA gathering, and their kind, inspirational words provided an uplifting moment during a day full of long sighs and headshakes.

During the meeting, each legislator was divided on how to approach the conversation of solving the TRS-Care crisis. Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) began the meeting by providing a statement of determination, but halfway through conceded that solving the crisis would require everyone to contribute.

Stephenson however was adamant that retirees should not have to have any cost increases or benefit reductions.

“It should be the burden of the actives and the state,” Stephenson said.

Tim Lee, TRTA’s Executive Director, was the first to provide public testimony. Lee outlined the issues surrounding the program, including the prolonged issue of the program being a “pay-as-you-go strategy.” This current strategy required the state to provide $768 million to keep the program solvent through the current biennium. Though Guthrie would later go on to state that this figure might be short, as the program is only projected to have $24 million in it by Aug. 2017.

“There is no silver bullet or one thing that we can blame,” said Lee. “The bottom line is this: we need more revenue to keep this program solvent.”

Lee noted that the current pay-as-you-go method has almost been as expensive as a pre-funded method. Pre-funding TRS-Care is the best option for its long-term solvency, and it is the method that would be most fair to TRTA members. However, pre-funding is the most expensive option for the Legislature, as it would cost the state a total of $2.7 billion during the 2018-19 biennium and $2.8 billion during the 2020-21 biennium.

Along with TRTA, several other associations testified to the committee. Among those testifying were the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), the Texas American Federation of Teachers (Texas AFT), the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) and the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA). Many associations stated that pre-funding the plan was the best solution.

Guthrie ended his testimony by providing his take on the future of TRS-Care.

“Whatever you decide on is putting a Band-Aid on a fundamentally flawed system,” said Guthrie. “Come up with a new model of providing health care.”

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We will continue to follow the TRS-Care Joint Committee’s progress, and provide you many more opportunities to get involved. We truly appreciate the members who were able to make it to the rally and the legislators who attended the rally.

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

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29 Mar 2016

MEMBER ALERT: Tomorrow is Primary Election Day in Texas!

Tuesday, March 1 is Super Tuesday in Texas, and thousands of registered voters in Texas still have not voted in the Primary Election!

According to the Texas Tribune, “over the 11-day early voting period, a total of 1,107,607 voters, making up 12.08 percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the 15 counties with the highest number of registered voters. That’s up from the 565,538 who voted early in 2012, but lower than the 1,193,576 who did so in 2008. “

Members, now is the time to rally together with your fellow retirees and any active educators you know to get out and VOTE!

Talk to each other! Local unit leaders, activate your phone trees and ask your members if they have voted. If not, strongly encourage them to make a plan to vote tomorrow. Check with members who you think may need a ride to the polling location and offer to start a carpool!

Polls will be open tomorrow from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Find your polling location by visiting this link. Don’t forget to bring along a valid photo i.d. Encourage your family members, friends, and neighbors to vote too!

As we’ve reported time and again, the primary elections often determine the winners of Texas elections! Many candidates will win their seats at the Texas Legislature uncontested during the November general election.

Elections determine policy outcomes! They are the biggest factor in determining what happens during the Texas Legislative Session.

The Senators and Representatives who are elected during this cycle will have the enormous responsibility of deciding the future of TRS-Care. If nothing is done during the next Legislative Session to TRS-Care, participants in the program could see massive premium increases or changes in benefits, or both!

We must elect officials who see the value in not only the TRS defined benefit plan, but our other valuable retirement benefits as well!

In previously editions of the Inside Line, we have given you a guide to help you find the best candidates in your area. If you are unsure of whom to vote for, use our “Voter Health” series to help you find the best candidate for the job.

We also recommend the following resources to help you conduct research on candidates:

Teach the Vote
Texas Educators Vote
Texas Teachers Vote
Texas Parent PAC
Texas League of Women Voters
Texas Tribune

Thank You

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

Protecting your retirement benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all the difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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