14 Aug

TRS 75th Anniversary Celebration

House Committee to Meet about TRS Benefits

Mark your calendar for September 12, 2012. In one month, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) will be celebrated for their 75 years of service to public education personnel and the state of Texas! TRTA and friends of TRS are hosting a special TRS 75th anniversary dinner celebration. We hope you can come to this special event. Tickets are $20 each, and the cost includes a great meal at the Driskill Hotel in Austin as well as an exceptional guest speaker.

TRTA is proud to welcome Mr. Brad McCoy. Brad graduated from Abilene Christian University—where he played football—in 1983. He served as an athletic director, head football coach and teacher during his career. Brad and his wife, Debra, have raised three sons. His oldest son, Colt, played for the University of Texas and set national records for most wins ever and highest completion percentages ever by a quarterback along with 47 other national, Big 12 and school records. Currently, Colt plays for the NFL Cleveland Browns. Chance, a receiver at Hardin-Simmons University, and Case, a quarterback at the University of Texas, are also great performers on and off the field.

We are happy to welcome Brad McCoy to the TRS 75th anniversary dinner celebration! We know his comments will inspire us all to keep TRS strong and fight for those who rely on this pension trust fund for their retirement livelihood.

Here is what you need to know if you are interested in attending:

  • The TRS 75th anniversary dinner celebration is September 12, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.;
  • The event is being hosted at the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin (Brazos and 6th Street);
  • Seating for the event is limited to 400 people;
  • Tickets are on sale now for $20 per ticket;
  • Everyone is welcome, including retired or active school employees, guests, legislators, staff members, and the media;
  • You must contact TRTA to purchase tickets;
  • Contact TRTA by phone to order your tickets by calling 1.800.880.1650;
  • Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis;
  • Dinner will include a commemorative program, a delicious three-course meal, special entertainment, and guest speakers; and
  • TRTA does not have a room block rate at the Driskill, but a list of nearby hotels will be posted on our web site ( for your information.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas provides retirement security to over 1.3 million Texans. Through economic booms and busts, a World War and international conflicts, in good times and bad, the TRS pension program has never missed a payment to its retirees. The Texas Legislature has also supported this vital pension trust fund by never missing a contribution or taking a “pension funding holiday.”

TRS Texas is a key economic stabilizer for the state and local economies. In these politically charged days when attacks are more and more common against the defined benefit plan, now is the time to recognize and celebrate how vital TRS has been to thousands of public education personnel and to the state.

We hope you will consider joining TRTA and the friends of TRS for this special anniversary dinner celebration!

House Committee to Meet about TRS

The House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Committee (PIFS) is scheduled to meet on September 12, 2012. The Teacher Retirement System will present their legislatively mandated pension plan study at this meeting. TRTA has been monitoring and commenting on this plan design study since TRS started working on it at the end of last legislative session.

TRTA members in the area are encouraged to attend this hearing. The plan design study will be influential during the next legislative session. We will continue to defend the current traditional defined benefit plan for all retired and active school employees. TRTA is confident that this plan provides the greatest financial security for TRS members and is a great value to the state.

If you plan to attend the TRS 75th anniversary celebration dinner, this is also a great opportunity for you to attend the House PIFS committee hearing. TRTA will provide more information about time and location as details are finalized.

Thank you for your membership with TRTA. If you are not a member, please contact our state office at 1.800.880.1650 and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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10 Aug

TRS Provides Insight on Additional Meetings, Offers Alternatives for Those Without Face-to-Face Meeting Locations

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and Aetna announced earlier this week several meeting locations for their Medicare Advantage seminars. Many TRTA members quickly contacted TRS and Aetna to make a reservation to attend one of these sessions.

Others have not been as fortunate. Many TRTA members have contacted us about not having meeting locations in their vicinity. In fact, some TRTA districts do not have any meetings scheduled in their area.

We are communicating your concerns directly to TRS. Many of you are making suggestions about locations where you would like to see these meetings scheduled.

TRS released the following statement:

“While working with TRS, Aetna assessed where the majority of the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage eligible participants live and then tried to design a schedule that would accommodate the vast majority of participants, so that as many participants as possible could attend a workshop in person.

Aetna will also be having conference calls for those participants who cannot make it to one of the scheduled workshops, and provide them with the same information & opportunity to have any question or concern answered.

Finally, after the first round of workshops, Aetna will continue to work with TRS to identify opportunities to deliver additional similar educational & informational sessions for participants as needed.

We may not be able to conduct a face to face workshop in every desired location, but we can certainly do some outreach or set-up an alternative plan such as a conference call.

Aetna will be responding to questions about alternate Medicare Advantage workshop locations just the same.”

We know that TRS and Aetna want to meet with as many TRS-Care participants as possible. Their goal is to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to know about the new TRS-Care Medicare Advantage options.

TRTA will continue to work closely with TRS and identify additional locations. If and when new meeting locations are announced, we will update you through the TRTA Inside Line.

In addition, TRTA leaders and staff will attend meetings and report back to you through the Inside Line with answers to frequently asked questions.

As TRS indicates in their announcement above, there are also conference calls and webcasts that you may participate in to learn more about Medicare Advantage.

We also know that many of our TRTA members who live out of state have questions about the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plan. We will work with TRS to answer your questions as well.

TRTA is encouraging TRS and Aetna to expand their meeting locations and total number of seminars. This is a challenging task, but TRTA believes that a change of this magnitude warrants as much direct, personal communication as possible.

Update from NCSL

As TRTA reported earlier this week, state legislators from all over the United States met in Chicago to discuss the many issues facing state governments. TRTA Board members and staff attended this national conference.

One issue gaining much attention at NCSL is public pension reform. This is a hot button issue in many states, and NCSL attendees received updates from states working on reforming their public pension plans.

Here are some of the key observations that TRTA leaders made at this week’s meeting:

  • Texas statewide pension plans, such as the Teacher Retirement System of Texas and the Employees Retirement System of Texas, are not viewed by many to be “in crisis;”
  • Texas TRS is a well-funded, well-managed pension plan;
  • Only the most extreme advocates for drastic change to the TRS defined benefit plan may categorize public education retiree benefits as overly generous;
  • States making changes to their retirement plans, for the most part, have not made good funding or benefit decisions for many years, exacerbating the funding shortfalls these retirement plans are now experiencing;
  • Legislators around the country are struggling with the idea of making changes to their retirement plans, knowing that these changes may lead to higher costs for the taxpayer or a new class of seniors retiring into poverty;
  • This may be even more likely in states that are not coordinated with Social Security (like Texas);
  • Legislators in many other states are predicating their policy position on traditional retirement plans on the premise that younger workers do not want a pension plan;
  • TRS Texas provides a great value to all Texans with some of the lowest pension costs in the country, as well as one of the best-funded pension plans.

“The fact is that there are problems around the country when it comes to preparing for retirement,” said Maridell Fryar, TRTA State President. “Whether it is the state that has a public pension plan that is now underfunded due to decades of bad decisions by that state’s legislature, or the private sector model of defined contribution plans and personal accounts that are woefully underfunded, there are serious concerns about how this country will deal with older workers who are reaching retirement. The work now must be focused on improving these retirement options on a state-by-state basis; but in Texas, we must work to protect what we have,” said Fryar. “Texas TRS is working, it is well-funded, and it is a success. We can continue to make modest improvements in the years to come and ensure our public educators that they will receive their pension,” she concluded.

Many Texas legislators attending the conference talked to TRTA about protecting the TRS defined benefit plan. “There is still strong support for the TRS defined benefit plan in the Texas Legislature,” said Bill Barnes, TRTA State Legislative Committee Coordinator. “Unfortunately, our Texas legislators are hearing about changes in other states, and the groups and individuals pushing for reform elsewhere also are pushing hard to reform Texas TRS. We must work to protect Texas TRS and its benefit programs—both the pension plan and the health care benefit,” said Barnes.

TRTA is leading the effort to protect TRS retirement benefits. We know that you are working with us in this effort. The fight is intensifying, and we need your help to maintain these much needed programs.

TRTA will provide additional commentary on the NCSL meeting in upcoming publications.

Thank You

TRTA is so grateful for your support and membership. Retired and active public education employees must remain strong and united in the effort to preserve their retirement benefits. If you are not a member and would like to join, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650.

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06 Aug

TRTA and TRTF Release Legacy Video

Update on the TRTA 59th Annual Convention

Last week, over 1,000 public education retirees met in Houston at the Westin Galleria for the 59th Annual Texas Retired Teachers Association Convention! The convention is held in a different city each year, and serves as our opportunity to train officers and committee chairman from all 260 local units. We also conduct the statewide business of the association, including electing officers for our Board of Directors and voting on bylaws amendments.
In addition to business, attendees are also able to enjoy several enlightening activities. This year, our charitable arm, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation, aired a special video with Foundation luncheon attendees on March 26. You may have heard about TRTF’s Legacy Campaign to promote a positive image of public education in Texas. Many TRTA members have donated generously to this program. Now, all of our members can view the first of many projects to be conceived from this initiative.
You may view the video, “Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: The Texas Public Education Legacy,” by clicking here or at the following link:
Please share this video with everyone you know: friends, family, and active teachers! Above all else, TRTF values public education and those who dedicate their lives to this noble endeavorWe hope the general public may view this video and feel the same appreciation that we do.
The TRTA Legislative Luncheon at Convention was a huge success with over 530 TRTA members in attendance with several hundred others watching the event in an overflow room. A panel of legislators that included State Senator John Whitmire and State Representatives Alma Allen, Larry Gonzales and Dan Huberty answered questions posed by Tim Lee about funding the retirement system and attacks from outside groups that oppose the defined benefit plan.
Officers for the TRTA Board of Directors were elected. Taking office on July 1, 2012 will be President Maridell Fryar, First Vice-President Francis Plemmons, Second Vice-President Nancy Byler and Secretary/Treasurer Don Vardeman. Herbert Norris will continue to serve on the board as Immediate Past President after his presidency concludes on June 30. 
Mary Jane Hamilton, who served as Second Vice-President for the past two years, resigned her position effective March 28 to join the TRTA staff. Ms. Hamilton will manage the TRTA schedule and plan major events, such as next year’s Convention in Corpus Christi. Her new title is Coordinator for Programs and Initiatives. We are happy to welcome her to the team!
The TRTA House of Delegates discussed and voted upon several bylaws amendments. Amendment 2 passed, allowing officers elected to the TRTA Board of Directors to serve two-year terms. Previously, officers served one-year terms with elections held every year. This change will take effect July 2014. A new business item introduced from the floor of the House of Delegates also passed, making the Local Unit Support Committee a permanent standing committee. No other amendments passed, though Amendment 7 to combine three standing committees was referred to the board for further study.
TRTA appreciates the dedication of our delegates. Your participation in this convention was vital and productive. We also want to give a special thank you to the volunteers of District 4 who hosted the convention. Their tremendous energy and organizational skills made everything operate smoothly!
Next year’s Convention in Corpus Christi marks TRTA’S 60th birthday and will occur April 9-12, 2013. TRTA looks forward to working closely with District 2 in planning this milestone event!

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