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13 May
0

TRTA Alert: House Action Needed on SB 1458

TRTA Member Alert: This Week Vital for Achieving Major Legislative Goals

Updated TRTA Email Campaign, Click Here//TRTA Call Your Legislator Hotline 1.888.674.3788 (find out who represents you, click here)

Last week was a turning point for all TRS members. A bill (SB 1458) aimed at the long-term funding of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) defined benefit plan passed the Senate and was sent to the House. Texas House Pensions Chairman Bill Callegari received the bill in committee, where it received an immediate and unanimous vote and was sent to the next step. Now, we are fighting the clock as the end of session nears and as a stack of other bills are trying to get through the process.

Time is not on our side.

There is one thing that SB 1458 has going for it that many of other pieces of legislation may not: an army of 80,000-plus TRTA members fighting to pass it! While this bill was progressing in the Senate, TRTA members sent over 55,000 emails and made thousands of phone calls. We need your help to keep the pressure on in the House!!

By now, you know the major components of this legislation.

  • Actuarial soundness this year (before this session started, this goal was considered a “never”).
  • A 3% cost-of-living increase for those who retired in 1999 and before (TRTA is doing a special report on this proposed COLA later this week).
  • Over $200 million in increased state contributions, which raises TRS funding to 6.8% in both FY 2014 and FY 2015.
  • A gradual increase in active member contributions from 6.4% in FY 2014 to 7.7% in FY 2017.
  • A new school district contribution to the TRS fund of 1.5%.
  • A link between active member, school district, and state contributions that will make reducing state contributions in the future far more difficult.
  • Preservation of the TRS defined benefit plan for ALL TRS employees and retirees.
  • A path to additional increases for all TRS retirees as the fund improves its actuarial condition under these new initiatives.

Over the last few sessions, the TRS fund has been under heavy attack by groups that want to rid the state of its defined benefit traditional retirement plans. The state has been unwilling to make reasonable long-term commitments to funding TRS. TRS retirees have suffered 12 years with no cost-of-living increases, and were not shown a real plan to make the fund sound and help our retirees in need.

Now, we finally have a chance to implement real solutions to these problems. It’s time for action!

There are always ways to improve legislation. TRTA is working with EVERY member of the Texas House to see what may be possible. Especially important to TRTA is the expansion of the COLA.

Time is running out. The good news for all TRS retirees is that the Legislature has worked hard to keep TRS-Care premiums from increasing for another biennium. If we are able to secure this, it will be 10 years that TRTA and its members have protected TRS retiree health care costs.

It is also important to stress that this legislation is the best possible path to TRS long-term actuarial soundness. Achieving this goal allows TRS to use its investment earnings to improve the overall financial condition of the fund AND incorporate cost-of-living raises over time.

Without the provisions in this bill, the TRS fund’s long-term financial condition will continue to worsen, no retiree will get any cost-of-living increase this session, and we will not be on a path to making COLAs possible any time soon.

Let’s not end this session knowing that we were THIS CLOSE to actuarial soundness and helping TRS retirees. Let’s make this the session that we rebuffed any attacks on TRS and put the system on solid financial footing for all current and future TRS retirees!

Click here to send an email today! Your communication is VITAL!!! Please understand the level of noise now involved in the legislative process. Every interest group is vying for legislative attention in these last weeks of session.

YOU are TRTA’s VOICE! Let’s make sure the Legislature knows this must be done!!

Be sure to email and call every day this week!! Focus on your own legislators, but be ready for more specific messaging later this week!

Thank you for being a vital part of the TRTA statewide team! If you are not a member and want more information about joining, call us at1.800.880.1650. Your membership is the foundation that allows TRTA to be your champion in the Texas Legislature. TRTA dues are $25 per year.

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10 May
0

SB 1458 is now in the Hands of the Texas House

SB 1458: Where We are Today and Where We Need to Go From Here

New TRTA Email Campaign to Texas House: Click Here!!!

As you may have read this week, Senate Bill 1458 passed out of the Texas Senate unanimously!We are grateful to Senator Robert Duncan, who worked tirelessly this session with TRTA and active educator groups to craft a bill that was acceptable by all groups.

Along with Senators Kirk Watson, Wendy Davis, and Royce West, Senator Duncan made important last-minute changes to improve the bill. To read the bill as it was passed, click here.

 

TRTA continues to find ways to improve the bill. We hope to find additional revenue to expand the cost-of-living increase to more retirees.

We know that many TRTA members are thrilled to see the first cost-of-living increase in 12 years, especially our most senior retirees. TRTA is also concerned, as our many of our members, that other retirees in need may not be included in this COLA. We are still working to adjust this benefit and include as many people as possible!

We appreciate the immense amount of phone calls and emails our members have sent in the past two weeks to encourage movement on SB 1458, but our work is not yet done! We must continue to call and email, more than ever, if we expect TRS to become actuarially sound and retirees to receive a cost-of-living increase!

Actuarial soundness is a goal we have been fighting to attain for a decade! It is THE hurdle we must overcome so that retirees can receive increases in the future.

Considering the attacks that public pension plans have suffered over the last two years, TRTA members have done an AMAZING job to get us this close to soundness! It is time to get this bill passed and make TRS better for all retired and active public school employees.

SB 1458 was received in the House, and has been referred to the Pensions Committee. Our next step is to move the bill out of the Pensions Committee so that it may heard on the House floor for a vote. We expect the bill to move out of committee as early as today.

Please help us reach this goal by calling (see information below) and emailing your Representatives. Let them know that the Texas Retired Teachers Association supports SB 1458 and it must be a TOP PRIORITY! We must pass SB 1458 NOW! We are running out of time this session!

Click here to send an email to your Representative!

Our work to support the bill is essential. A similar bill that impacted the Employees Retirement System (ERS) was killed in the House just last night. We cannot let this happen to SB 1458!

SB 1458 is the ONLY bill that can make our pension fund solvent and pave the path for future benefit increases for our retirees this session. The work we are doing today will have a tremendous long-term impact. If we do not put in the effort, the challenge will become exponentially greater as the new GASB accounting rules go into effect in 2014 (when our Legislature does not meet).

Thank you for being a member of TRTA and supporting our advocacy efforts. If you are not a member, and would like additional information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650 (or click here).

Please know that our primary purpose is to protect the TRS fund as a defined benefit plan for all educators…retired or active. It is our mission to improve benefits for TRS retirees. TRTA is 80,000 members strong. The louder our voice, the better our chances to help all retirees! Please join us in these efforts. We NEED YOU!

TRTA Contact Your Legislator Hotline

1.888.674.3788

Click Here to Learn who your Representative is!

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08 May
0

TRTA Members Are THE Difference, Let’s Keep Pushing

Action on SB 1458 Expected Soon!

Keep calling and Click here to make sure your voice is heard!

TRTA expects action today on Senate Bill 1458. Senator Robert Duncan, the author of the bill, continues to meet with stakeholders to improve the bill and address concerns of both retired and active school employees. TRTA is also working directly with many of our friends on the Democratic side and we know they are very supportive of helping TRTA members and all retired and active school employees!

TRTA is emphasizing the need for actuarial soundness, help for current TRS retirees, protection of the defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees, higher state contributions, and a balanced approach for our active education employee/employer friends.

All stakeholders are working towards these goals, and we commend Senator Duncan for his continued support. We believe many others are helping Senator Duncan and we should learn more soon about the influence all our Senator friends are having on this important legislation.

As we said yesterday, TRTA is not working against anyone! We need EVERYONE’s help.

This is our time: a chance to get the system on a path to soundness for years to come. Let’s tell every Senator we need their help!

This bill must continue to move through the legislative process in order to make the TRS pension fund actuarially sound and provide some retirees with financial help!

Below is a list of all Senators and their Capitol office phone numbers. You can also reach your Senators by using our toll-free hotline: 1.888.674.3788.

Do not think of any Senator as “opposed,” as all of them want to help. Our approach is to educate any uncommitted Senators, and let them know we are depending on them to help TRS and take advantage of this legislation’s many good qualities.

In addition to calling, let’s keep up the emails! TRTA members have now sent another 10,000 emails since late Monday! KEEP THEM COMING!

Click here to make sure your voice is heard!

 

Kevin P. Eltife R 512-463-0101
Bob Deuell R 512-463-0102
Robert Nichols R 512-463-0103
Tommy Williams R 512-463-0104
Charles Schwertner R 512-463-0105
Sylvia Garcia D 512-463-0106
Dan Patrick R 512-463-0107
Ken Paxton R 512-463-0108
Kelly Hancock R 512-463-0109
Wendy R. Davis D 512-463-0110
Larry Taylor R 512-463-0111
Jane Nelson R 512-463-0112
Rodney Ellis D 512-463-0113
Kirk Watson D 512-463-0114
John Whitmire D 512-463-0115
John Carona R 512-463-0116
Joan Huffman R 512-463-0117
Glenn Hegar R 512-463-0118
Carlos I. Uresti D 512-463-0119
Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa D 512-463-0120
Judith Zaffirini D 512-463-0121
Brian Birdwell R 512-463-0122
Royce West D 512-463-0123
Troy Fraser R 512-463-0124
Donna Campbell R 512-463-0125
Leticia Van De Putte D 512-463-0126
Eddie Lucio, Jr. D 512-463-0127
Robert Duncan R 512-463-0128
Jose R. Rodriguez D 512-463-0129
Craig Estes R 512-463-0130
Kel Seliger R 512-463-0131

Thank you for being a member of TRTA and serving as a vital advocate for our statewide team! You are making a difference!

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