Key Facts in this Update:
- TRTA and Senate Democrats are NOT working against each other.
- TRTA’s 60 year advocacy program is non-partisan and we work with all interests with great success for retirees.
- TRTA is NOT working against active educators.
- Many active employee/employer groups stand with TRTA in support of SB 1458 to ensure the fund’s long-term solvency and benefit protection.
- TRTA wants more state contribution to the fund and every retiree to benefit from these actions.
- Delay for the purpose of improving this legislation is understood, but delay to kill SB 1458 is a short-term tactic with long-term consequences.
- The time for action is NOW!
- TRTA’s phone call advocacy expanded to ALL senators: “We need help, we expect action! Please support SB 1458 for action this week!” 1.888.674.3788
Last week, TRTA members unleashed a three-day email and phone barrage on the Texas Senate. In all, over 40,000 emails were sent.The calls into Senate offices were described as “heavy.” YOU helped send a loud, strong message to the Texas Senate. TRS retirees need help and we need it now.
As we prepare for the week ahead with the knowledge that SB 1458 was delayed twice, I wanted to address a few questions I received this weekend. I believe this will help you better represent TRTA’s position as we continue our member-driven advocacy in the expectation that action is forthcoming.
Why Are the Senate Democrats Working Against Us? What About Active Teachers, Do They Know We Are Not Working Against Them?
The Senate Democrats are NOT working against TRTA! These members are very eager to work on legislation that will help all retired public school employees. TRTA is in regular communication with these long-time pro-TRTA legislators. They have met with TRTA volunteers and staff all session to learn about our issues, hear our suggestions, and develop plans on how best to assist.
The same can be said for our Senate Republican friends. TRTA has a 60 year history of working with all political parties, and we have extremely positive results to show for it.
Working on any TRS legislation is complex and touches the lives of many people. The results of any public pension legislation are influenced strongly by budget realities, public policy concerns, and political consequences. We are relying on all of our friends in the Texas Senate—and the House—to know when the time for debate is over and the time for action has come.
Numerous versions of the TRS plan have been worked and reworked. The final details were not crafted fully until early last week. Many Senators like the direction of SB 1458—one that leads to actuarial soundness, more commitment to TRS from all involved, no major cuts to vested employee benefits, some help for retirees, and a clear path for the system to help ALL retirees as quickly as possible.
Others object that the state is not putting enough into the TRS fund (TRTA supports more state contribution for TRS), that too much is being asked of the active employees, or that not enough TRS retirees will be getting a benefit increase (TRTA continues to work to expand this).
Let it also be known that TRTA is NOT working against active educators. Many of our members have “generational” educators in their families. Our active school employees do an important job every day, and we want to protect their defined benefit plan for the future.
This is the great legacy of TRTA! People worked to protect the fund when our members were active educators, and now it is our responsibility and privilege to protect it for future generations.
There are some active employee organizations that have different objectives for this legislation. TRTA understands their positions. Likewise, they know that TRTA is working to pass a bill to help as many TRS retirees as possible right now.
We are working every day with all of our friends in the Legislature and in the active employee community to address these issues.
But time is not on our side. Endless debate will end any chance that retirees will see help this session.
Doing nothing puts all active employee future benefits at risk due to pending pension reporting changes and the reality of a $1 billion TRS-Care health insurance crisis next session.
The time for action is NOW! Delay for the purpose of improving this legislation is understood, but delay to kill SB 1458 is a short-term tactic with long-term consequences.
We MUST take the opportunity to improve TRS.
- We can help over 102,000 retirees this year.
- We can ensure better long-term funding that makes real pension increases possible for all other TRS retirees.
Doing nothing means the fund’s actuarial condition only worsens, that the system will never be funded, and the ability to help TRS retirees will be very challenging.
The Week Ahead
TRTA members are doing a great job delivering a consistent, strong message. In addition to your phone calls and emails, we have sent a personal letter to every Senator asking for their favorable vote on SB 1458. TRTA staff will continue to visit every Senate office this week.
Please continue to educate legislators on SB 1458. This bill is vital to the long-term protection of the TRS fund. It will help 102,000 retirees. Its impact will continue to improve TRS for years to come and make it possible to help all TRS retirees.
As the week unfolds, we should contact ALL Texas Senators. Let’s expand our advocacy efforts to ensure that every Senator knows helping TRS is NOT a partisan issue. It’s just the right thing to do!
Every Senator needs to know that we want to see action as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your help. Please use the TRTA Legislator Hotline to contact Senate members this week. That number is 1.888.674.3788.
Be sure to also email your Senator through the advocacy campaign (click here).
Feel free to click on this link again as we will add new email messages to this campaign throughout the day and the rest of the week!
For our out-of-state TRTA members, we know emailing is a challenge. You can use the toll-free TRTA Call Your Legislator Hotline(1.888.674.3788) and let every Senator know that you are drawing a TRS annuity and that people you know and talk to regularly still live and VOTE in Texas!
Again, you are so appreciated. There is no more powerful advocacy group in the state than our TRTA members!
If you are not a member, please consider joining today! Contact our office at1.800.880.1650 for membership information.