Blog

23 Mar
0

TRTA Day at the Capitol “Inspires” Legislators

A Great Success!

TRTA Day at the Capitol Makes Impact on Texas Legislature

More than 800 TRTA members converged on the Texas Capitol today to stress the importance of maintaining state appropriations to the TRS-Care health insurance program and TRS pension trust fund.

TRTA members delivered a message to the Texas Legislature, and it came through loud and clear…RESTORE FUNDING TO TRS AND TRS-CARE; PROTECT OUR HEALTH CARE PROGRAM!!

In addition, many legisaltors promised they would fight any effort to transition the pension fund from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.

Legislators in both the Texas Senate and House recognized the work done by TRTA volunteers to improve the livelihood of all public education retirees.

Senator Robert Duncan and Representative Vicki Truitt authored resolutions recognizing this week as TRTA week. This news was met with loud applause from the hundreds of retirees taking nearly every seat in the public galleries. In fact, the Texas Senate was standing room only!

Dozens senators spoke in favor of the resolution in the Texas Senate. Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst commented that the Texas Senate budget proposal is placing a higher priority on TRS and TRS-Care.

TRTA members were encouraged to keep educating legislators about reinstating funding for the TRS-Care health insurance program.

TRTA members need to know that their participation in the TRTA Day at the Capitol made a difference for TRS retirees this legislative session! With over 800 participants attending the Capitol event, and over 2,500 emails sent in just 3 hours, legislators heard from their constituents. Many expressed a deep commitment to keep their promise to education retirees and work to restore funding to the TRS-Care program and TRS pension fund.

If you want to watch the presentation in the Texas Senate, click on the video link below. Please know you will need a version of Real Player on your computer (you may download Real Player for free here:

www.real.com).

The presentation for TRTA begins 4:00 minutes into the video and continues for 23 minutes!

Texas Senate Video Presentation Click Here

A video presentation from the Texas House session will be posted later this week when it becomes available.

The TRTA Board of Directors, State Legislative Committee, and staff cannot tell everyone who participated in today’s event, whether by being in Austin or participating virtually via email or phone, how much we appreciate you! For all you have given, done and continue to do, we thank you.

Later this week, TRTA will post pictures from our big event. Please feel free to email us pictures you have taken as well (send your photos to cindee@trta.org or laura@trta.org).

We also want to thank our state elected officials. EVERYONE worked hard to make this a great event. We extend our sincerest gratitude to state Senator Robert Duncan, Representative Vicki Truitt and their wonderful staff for making this a successful event. We also appreciate every member of the Texas Senate and House who addressed the crowd in the galleries. These heartfelt comments are appreciated.

As a final thought about how we should approach the remainder of this legislative session, consider the statement Senator Royce West offered from the floor of the Texas Senate today:

“…the question is ‘what happens when you leave.’ We need to make certain that as we weather the storms of the financial crisis that we are in, that we don’t forget our retired teachers.

TRTA will continue to push for you this entire legislative session, doing all we can to ensure that no legislator has the opportunity to forget the great service you have given to this state.

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22 Mar
0

TRTA Day at the Capitol is Here; TRS Candidate Information

TRTA Day at the Capitol is Here; TRS Candidate Information

Email Your Legislators Now

TRTA members from all over the state will arrive in Austin tomorrow to promote the TRTA Legislative agenda and to urge legislators’ help with protecting current health care and pension funding.

TRTA expects about 500 members to visit the Capitol complex tomorrow to ask the Texas Legislature to restore funding to the TRS-Care health insurance program and the TRS pension trust fund. Many members are leaving their homes before 5 AM to travel to Austin via chartered bus. The dedication and personal financial sacrifice by so many TRTA members is so appreciated. TRTA Rally Day participants will be able to hand-deliver factual information about our most important issues to their legislators. They will also be able to meet personally with these members and convey to them the need and hardship being experienced by so many public education retirees.

As you know, TRTA membership exceeds 71,000 and many are not able to make the trip due to high travelling costs and not receiving an increase in their pension benefits since 2001. If you are not able to attend the TRTA Day at the Capitol, please send an email to your legislators asking for their support on our TRTA legislative agenda.

You may want to forward this email to your friends, fellow retirees, your family, and any active school employees that you know. Their help in educating legislative members about the importance of retirement security for our state public education retirees is very beneficial. We need everyone willing to send an email to our Texas Legislature asking to restore funding to these vital programs.

TRTA will post live updates to our Facebook page during tomorrow’s event. A recap of the TRTA Day at the Capitol will be posted to the Inside Line tomorrow, as well. Please click here if you want to download the TRTA Day at the Capitol Talking Points and Information page.

Thank you again to everyone participating in the TRTA Day at the Capitol. We do appreciate your being able to come to Austin, or your virtual participation through the email advocacy campaign. Your membership activity is what makes TRTA the successful organization that it is.

TRS Candidate Information

Many of you have contacted the TRTA office asking for additional information on the three people running for the TRS Board of Trustees position. TRTA is happy to provide some additional biographical information, as well as a response from each candidate to a TRTA questionnaire.
To view the candidates’ biographical information as it appears in the TRTA Voice news bulletin, please click here.

To read the candidates statement on the TRTA questionnaire, please click here.

TRTA is not endorsing any candidate for the TRS position. We are grateful that all three candidates are TRTA members and have expressed support for how this association works to protect the retirement security of all TRS retirees.

As you may know, the statute pertaining to the TRS Board of Trustees annuitant election says that a slate of the top three vote-getters is provided to the Governor for his eventual appointment to the TRS Board. While some may suggest this is a reason not to vote in the TRS election, TRTA believes this is an invaluable opportunity for TRTA members to express their interest in the make-up of the TRS Board. A large voter turnout for this election is our goal. TRTA will not try telling you who to vote for; we just ask that you vote! Let’s send a message to the Governor and the legislature that we are very interested in the management of this $108 billion pension trust fund! Please encourage your fellow retirees to vote, as well. We need every eligible voter to get involved and seize this opportunity to be a part of the election process.

Thank you so much for your membership in TRTA. With less than 70 days left in this legislative session, we must continue to press our legislators for their assistance in restoring budget reductions to TRS. Not doing so may have a disastrous impact on the TRS-Care health insurance program. Too much is at stake, your help is needed now.

Click here to send an email to your legislators asking them to preserve TRS funding!

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18 Mar
0

TRTA Day at the Capitol Update!

TRTA is hosting its Day at the Capitol on March 23. Please click here to send an email to legislators and their staff inviting them to attend and telling them we appreciate their work on our behalf.

In addition to thanking legislators for their work, TRTA is using this day to stress four primary legislative goals for the session:

  • Use any and all state resources to restore funding to TRS-Care health insurance;
  • Work with TRTA to pass legislation providing a pension benefit increase to TRS retirees;
  • Restore funding for the TRS pension trust fund; and
  • Promote the value of the TRS defined benefit pension plan.

As with all TRTA email advocacy campaigns, there is space at the beginning and end of the message for you to provide your own content. One suggestion is to let your legislator(s) know if you will attend the rally and if so, that you would like to visit with them personally when you arrive in Austin.

A look back at this week’s legislative happenings

TRTA testified in the House Pensions Investments and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee for HB 738 and HB 1061, authored by Representative John Otto. This legislation allows TRS to continue use of its current investment tools to manage the pension fund assets. It also adjusts the amount of assets TRS may invest in hedge funds from 5 percent to 10 percent. This investment tool is being requested by TRS to manage their overall investment risk. Representative Otto and Mr. Ronnie Jung (Executive Director for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas), suggested adding a sunset provision that ends the investment authority in 2019 (which is when the TRS sunset review process occurs in the Legislature).

The House Appropriations Committee is nearly finished with its work on a proposed budget to the full House. During their negotiations, House leaders and Governor Rick Perry agreed to use $3.2 billion of the “Rainy Day Fund” to meet funding obligations from the current biennium. This effectively frees $3 billion for use in the coming budget cycle.

Already, legislative leaders are focused on using these budget resources to fund deep cuts in education, health and human services, and corrections.

So far, however, the House budget writers HAVE NOT ALLOCATED ANY NEW MONEY FOR THE TRS HEALTH CARE OR PENSION FUND! TRTA is working with these members to restore, at minimum, $300 million to the TRS-Care health insurance program to avoid premium increases that may be as high as 30 to 80 percent! TRTA members can deliver this message to legislators personally during the TRTA Day at the Capitol next Wednesday.

Please send another email to legislators asking them to restore funding to the TRS health care program and the TRS pension trust fund by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

TRTA members are doing a great job sending emails and communicating with legislators. For those who are not able to attend next week, we will post a special email campaign so that you too can participate in the TRTA Day at the Capitol. Please do not forget that TRTA has a toll-free Contact Your Legislator hotline (888.674.3788) that you can use to call your legislators any time you wish.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to TRTA!

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