01 Aug

End of Special Session, etc.

The special legislative session has ended, with the House adjourning sine die on Wednesday June 29 and the Senate doing so the day before.

TRTA members have been waiting to learn the outcome of SB 1, to which Representative Larry Gonzales attached an amendment intended to provide financial relief to TRS annuitants. A conference committee consisting of five representatives and five senators reviewed SB 1 and its 181 amendments in the final days of the specialsession. On Monday June 27, the committee filed its official report. The Gonzales amendment was no longer included in the final version of the bill and this means that retirees will not receive a permanent or supplemental increase in their pension benefit this biennium.

The Gonzales amendment, originally written as HB 3542, would have provided the Teacher Retirement System Board of Trustees with the temporary authority to issue a supplemental payment to TRS retirees pending certain financial conditions. These conditions were meant to protect the stability of the pension fund by ensuring that a payment would be made only if TRS would remain at least 80% funded or higher. Additionally, the payment could not have been made unless TRS investment earnings for the fiscal year exceeded 8%.

TRS retirees have not received a permanent pension increase in 10 years, though a supplemental payment was issued in 2007. While that payment was greatly appreciated and helped hundreds of thousands of Texas public education retirees, the fact remains that our members’ buying power has diminished by over 30% since 2001. Larry Gonzales’ unique approach to providing financial relief to retirees would have helped hundreds of thousands of people living on fixed incomes and would not have impacted the state’s general revenue fund.

Our sincere gratitude goes to Representative Gonzales for his repeated efforts in trying to have this legislation passed. While the removal of the amendment is a disappointment, we are grateful to have his support and look forward to working with him again in future sessions.

Thank you to the thousands of TRTA members who have worked hard during both the regular and special sessions, reaching out to legislators and educating them on issues that impact all public education retirees.

If you are not a TRTA member but would like to join in our efforts to defend your TRS benefits, please contact the Texas Retired Teachers Association at 1.800.880.1650. We will be happy to answer all your membership questions.

Again, thank you for all you do to support TRTA.

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17 Jun

TRTA Action Alert : Retain the Gonzales Amendment to SB 1

TRTA members can still influence outcome on possible supplemental payment

The current special legislative session is in its final days, but there is at least one big issue that TRTA members are waiting to learn its final outcome. An amendment added to SB 1 by Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) would authorize TRS to make a supplemental payment to retirees if they meet their actuarially expected return of 8 percent and the system remains at least 80 percent funded.

SB 1 is now being negotiated by designated conferees. Senate conferees are Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock); Bob Deuell (R-Greenville); Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen); Florence Shapiro (R-Plano); and Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) . The House conferees are: Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands); Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth); John Otto (R-Dayton); Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie); and Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio).

TRTA members can click here to send an email to their Senator and Representative asking them to support the Gonzales amendment. We need every member of the Texas Legislature to ask the conferees to keep the Gonzales amendment on SB 1.

Other News: TRS-Care Premiums will NOT increase!

The TRS Board of Trustees officially passed a resolution to maintain TRS-Care premiums and the current benefit structure for the coming fiscal year.

What may have been a huge premium increase or massive benefit reductions has proven to be a major legislative victory for all TRTA members. It was your hard work and dedication that helped pass a budget to adequately fund TRS-Care in the coming biennium. While the budget language offers legislative intent to keep premiums in check for both years of the biennium, TRS is projecting difficult days ahead for the TRS-Care program. This may be especially true if there is a run on retirements in the coming two years.

For now, though, TRS-Care participants can breath a little easier that their benefits and health care costs will remain unchanged next year.

Thank You

TRTA members continue to work hard and follow these important issues. Your efforts are appreciated and have made a difference.

If you are not a TRTA member but would like to join in our efforts to defend your TRS benefits, please contact the Texas Retired Teachers Association at 1.800.880.1650. We will be happy to answer all your membership questions.

Again, thank you for all you do to support TRTA.

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09 Jun

One More Chance for Possible Payment

Contact Your Legislator Today

The Texas House is debating a school funding bill today. Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) has filed an amendment that would add the language from HB 3542 to this bill. As you will recall, HB 3542 provides an opportunity for TRS retirees to receive a supplemental payment if certain conditions are met. We need the House to accept the Gonzales amendment to give retirees a chance at receiving a supplemental payment in the coming biennium.

TRTA members need to contact their Representative today and ask them to support the Larry Gonzales amendment that provides retirees an opportunity to receive a supplemental payment.

You can email your legislators by clicking here. You can also call your legislator by using the toll-free TRTA “Call your legislator hotline” at 1.888.674.3788.

We will update you on this issue later today. Thank you for all your help.

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