26 May 2013

VICTORY! Actuarial Soundness Bill Sent to Governor

SB 1458 Passes House Unanimously: Actuarial Soundness Bill on the Way to Governor’s Desk!


Today, the Texas House adopted the final changes to SB 1458 (the “TRS actuarial soundness bill”), and the bill is now on its way to Governor Perry.

The House’s action was the last step for the bill in the Texas Legislature. Governor Perry must now sign or veto the bill, or simply allow the legislation to become law by taking no action. TRTA delivered a letter to the Governor asking him to sign SB 1458 into law.

TRTA members have worked tirelessly this session to protect the TRS fund for all active and retired school employees. Your efforts are unprecedented! More than 110,000 emails were sent by TRTA members supporting this legislation (and that’s just counting those sent from our TRTA legislative email system). Many of you have been calling day and night encouraging legislators to do the right thing. You have educated them on how the defined benefit plan works and that it must be protected.

TRTA is also proud to have partnered with our friends in the active educator community. We have accomplished a lot together, and the TRS fund is stronger because of our steadfast cooperation.

While SB 1458 makes the TRS fund actuarially sound and provides a much needed increase for over 195,000 TRS retirees, the bill does not help everyone.

TRTA knows that the needs of those who retired in 2005 or after are also pressing. While the fund was not able to expand the COLA to those who retired in 2005 or after, we will pursue financial relief for all TRS retirees at every possible opportunity.

Without adoption of this legislation, the pressure to make even more drastic changes to the TRS fund would have increased. Now, the state has a plan to ensure the fund’s long-term future and help retirees in need with a pension increase.

Our work is far from over! TRTA’s membership has grown both in numbers and influence. We have big tasks ahead. A major health care funding crisis is looming next session. Even after the bold, substantive changes in SB 1458, the interest groups that dislike public pension funds will resume their attacks.

For now, though, TRTA members need to know we have won a MAJOR victory this session. We have won a victory for all TRS retirees!

Congratulations TRTA members! Your hard work and dedication have won the day. We are proud of you. Your TRS fund is better because of you. Together, we have made a difference and together we will continue to make a difference.

TRTA will continue to track the progress of SB 1458 as it goes to the Governor and we will continue to provide updates as they happen.

If you are not a member of TRTA and want to join our grassroots advocacy efforts, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650. TRTA will print a complete legislative wrap-up in the next issue of our membership news bulletin, The VOICE. You will not want to miss this special issue!

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25 May 2013

Senate Takes Final Vote SB 1458

Senate Adopts Conference Committee Report on SB 1458!

House Action Pending, Budget Debate Ongoing

The Texas Senate took final action unanimously adopting the conference committee report on SB 1458. Chairman Duncan and Senate/House conferees agreed on the following provisions:

  • Keeps the 2004 and before cost of living increase–Almost 200,000 TRS retirees slated to receive the 3 percent cost of living increase;
  • TRS will be actuarially sound this coming biennium;
  • Sets up additional funding for TRS in the coming biennium;
  • Total state and employer contributions to TRS provides over $530 million more for TRS in the coming biennium;
  • State budget allocations will hold school districts harmless for the FY 2015 contributions;
  • Active educator contributions will increase over time (6.4% FY 2014; 6.7% FY 2015; 7.2% FY 2016; and 7.7% FY 2017);
  • Bill will maintain grandfather provision for all vested (those with five years of service or more) employees as of 9-1-2014 (allows an additional year for employees to vest);
  • Maintains the Rule of 80;
  • By making the the TRS fund sound, more retirees will be eligible for increases in the future.

The conferees did remove the amendment that grandfathered all existing TRS employees. That amendment also included a 13th check for all retirees. The agreed-to legislation simply did not have adequate actuarial value to include these two provisions. The good news is that this legislation will make the fund actuarially sound now. This was not even generally thought possible this session. But, TRTA members worked hard. We have achieved a great deal. Our TRS fund will be actuarially sound. Almost 200,000 retirees are slated to receive a 3 percent increase.

The House must still take action on SB 1458 before it can be sent to the Governor. With only one day left in the legislative session, TRTA staff and volunteers will be working to make sure this bill is finally passed. Please know that our TRTA Legislative Team is at the Captiol and is working for you until this bill sees final action!

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24 May 2013

SB 1458 Conferees Named

TRTA Evening Update
SB 1458 Conferees Named
The Senate and House are now negotiating over the different versions of SB 1458. As you remember, the House added several amendments to the original version of SB 1458. One of those amendments added an expanded cost of living increase for TRS retirees. Other amendments provided language for a 13th check and various grandfather provisions for all TRS active employees.

The Senate conferees are: Duncan; Watson; Davis; Williams; and Seliger.

The House conferees are: Callegari, Chair; Alonzo; Branch; Allen; and Stephenson.

The conferees will prepare a report on the final negotiated version of SB 1458. Then, the Senate and House must vote to accept the bill. TRTA is working with all legislative members and our active educator friends to ensure the TRS fund is actuarially sound and that the most number of retirees are helped in this bill.

Please continue to call and thank your legislators for their ongoing efforts to ensure the TRS pension fund’s long-term solvency. The TRTA Contact Your Legislator Hotline is 1.888.674.3788.

Thank you for your continued support and action on this important bill. Time is running out, but please know that TRTA will work until the very last day of this 83rd Legislative Session to help make the TRS fund actuarially sound and provide retirees a much needed benefit increase.

On a final note, we are so grateful for those of you who have already renewed your membership in TRTA or joined as a new member. TRTA will have a special end-of-session wrap-up in the next issue of our membership news bulletin, The Voice. Be sure to renew your TRTA membership in your home-area local unit, or feel free to contact our office with any membership questions you may have (1.800.880.1650).

Our membership numbers are growing every day, but we still need your help. This legislation is very close to seeing final passage, and we will not rest until all stages of this bill are finalized! Together, we have worked to make this a good session for all current and future TRS retirees by helping make the fund actuarially sound and protecting the TRS defined benefit plan. Together, we are stronger. Together, we are the voice for all public education retirees.

Keep watching your email for more TRTA updates as we enter these final days of legislative session! THANK YOU!

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