02 May 2013

BREAKTHROUGH: Compromise on TRS Bills Offers Big Improvements!


BREAKTHROUGH: Compromise on TRS Bills Offers Big Improvements!

More Retirees Could Receive Raise; All Vested Actives Grandfathered

Call Your Senator Beginning at 8 a.m. Tomorrow (Thursday, May 2, 2013)

TRTA Call Your Legislator Hotline:


(Click here to send an email, BUT know that phone calls tomorrow are IMPERATIVE)

The Texas Senate is preparing to consider SB 1458 as early as tomorrow, Thursday, May 2, 2013. State Senator Robert Duncan met with TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee today to explain his new compromise proposal for SB 1458.

This new proposal:

  • Provides a 3% cost-of-living raise for all retirees who were retired as of 1999 or earlier;
  • Makes the TRS pension fund actuarially sound;
  • Keeps the fund actuarially sound so that more retirees can receive raises in the future;
  • Grandfathers ALL vested (those with 5 years of service or more) TRS active employees from having to retire under a Rule of 80 and a minimum age 62 requirement;
  • Raises the active contribution rate to 7.7%;
  • Raises the school district contribution rate to 1.5% (for those school districts not already paying into Social Security program);
  • And raises the state contribution rate to 6.8% (for a total combined employer contribution rate of 8.3%).

This bill continues to gain support and momentum. Chairman Duncan is working hard to get the fund actuarially sound and help retirees. At least one active educator organization now supports SB 1458!

TRTA is also working hard to improve this bill by working to keep active employees’ retirement benefits intact. TRTA has taken a lead on expanding the COLA for more retirees! Making the system sound is a HUGE step to helping ALL retirees as quickly as possible.

These changes will help our TRS defined benefit plan stay a defined benefit! It grandfathers all VESTED active employees (those with 5 years of service or more) from the minimum age 62 requirement.

TRTA continues to work to make the bill better.

NOW, WE NEED YOU! If you want TRS retirees to get a raise, please support this bill.

If you retired after 1999 and are discouraged, we understand your concern. We are working every day to make this bill better. The bill does make the fund actuarially sound and increases all funding sources. This will help TRS give increases in the future! This opportunity cannot elude us!

If this bill dies, retirees will have little hope of getting anything this session. TRS will fall further behind in its actuarial condition. The possibility of any COLAs in the future will diminish greatly. Doing nothing is the worst possible scenario!

Please, call your Senator beginning tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Use the TRTA Legislator Hotline number: 1.888.674.3788. We need every Senator to vote “Yes!” on SB 1458 using the floor substitute by Senator Duncan.

TRTA MEMBERS, PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATOR! Let them know “I am a member of TRTA and I want you to support the floor substitute for SB 1458 that gives retirees a raise, makes the fund sound, and grandfathers all vested active employees from any retirement reductions!”

You can also click here to send an email to your Senator (please do this as soon as you receive this email and be ready to make phone calls tomorrow!).

Phone calls tomorrow are more needed than emails. This is one of those times that phone calls are VERY important! If you do not know who your senator is, please click here!

We will update you on the Senate’s progress tomorrow. Thank you for being a member of TRTA. If you are not a member and want information about joining our advocacy efforts, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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02 May 2013

Early Update on Senate Action

TRTA Members Send Early Message

Good morning. TRTA has received confirmation that these Senators will vote with Chairman Duncan:

Senator Eltife;
Senator Estes;
Senator Fraser.

Phone calls to these offices are no longer needed. They have all contacted TRTA and are truly appreciative of our members’ action and response to this improved legislation.

We will keep you posted on other Senators that let us know about their support. Please let TRTA know if your Senator supports the bill and we will add them to the next update!

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01 May 2013

TRTA Supports “The Big Deal”

(New) Updated Email Campaign to Help TRS Retirees…click here to send an email now and read below for the complete update!

TRTA Supports “The Big Deal”

Actuarial Soundness and Helping Retirees Critical to Any TRS Solution

Time is running out this legislative session. Much progress has been made to achieve several TRTA goals. Our members have been involved aggressively, but the Legislature must accomplish some of our remaining objectives. The most important undertaking for our TRTA members is making the fund actuarially sound and getting retirees an increase.

The situation, however, is very tenuous. Deadlines for moving bills through the legislative process are adding pressure to a situation that is charged with difficult choices already. There are literally thousands of bills being considered right now, creating a stressful situation for everyone involved.

Not unlike other legislative sessions, TRTA members are in a tough spot of supporting legislation that is not necessarily popular with active employees and some legislators.

TRTA is very involved in meeting with our friends in both the active employee and school administrative communities. We see these representatives daily. While we may not agree always on the paths to achieving the goals, there is genuine cooperation between the many interest groups and TRTA.

It is TRTA’s first and foremost priority to protect the defined benefit plan for all current and future public education retirees. The plan design is being threatened by numerous circumstances. It is TRTA’s firm stance that a plan MUST be implemented to ensure the long-term health of the pension fund, and it MUST happen this session.

By taking no action on a plan that gets the fund to actuarial soundness (especially when multiple plans have been discussed to reach that goal), TRS retirees risk being placed on the backburner by the Legislature and any interest groups that assert their agenda over helping TRS retirees.

TRTA is the first to admit that the current versions of SB 1458 and HB 1884 are not perfect bills. However, these are the bills that:

  • Achieve actuarial soundness;
  • Avert a Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Rule 68 situation;
  • Increase state and member contributions modestly to improve the fund’s actuarial condition;
  • Raise additional revenue for the TRS fund with a new, reasonable school district contribution;
  • Provide many retirees with an increase;
  • Help the fund maintain actuarial soundness and continue to provide cost-of-living increases over time for those retirees not included this session;
  • Preserves the defined benefit plan and the fund’s value for many decades to come.

These bills have been criticized for many reasons, but most especially for instituting a new age-adjusted annuity for future TRS retirees. The current bill grandfathers 50% of the active educator workforce. Additional discussions have centered on improving that grandfathering provision even more.

TRTA supports whatever maximum grandfathering clause that is plausible, but we also support retirees getting help now! While there has been much discussion about protecting future retiree benefits, we cannot forget that our existing retirees are losing buying power every year the Legislature fails to resolve these issues.

Now is the time to help our retirees. Now is the time to fund TRS adequately and consider modest adjustments to ensure the long-term health of our TRS defined benefit plan.

We cannot say this enough: failure to act is the worst possible scenario! Let’s not allow our fund’s long-term solvency to be called into question. Let’s work with our active school friends to get a workable solution. Let’s tell the Legislature that TRS retirees need to be their priority!

TRTA members, there are only four weeks left this session. We know that many of you are tired of making phone calls, sending emails, and begging decision makers to do the right thing. Legislators are being lobbied heavily to just do nothing with TRS. These bills would have died a long time ago if it were not for the very dedicated TRTA members encouraging their legislators to keep working towards a compromise. Doing nothing will sacrifice retiree needs, and this issue has been ignored for far too long.

In these last four weeks, our voice is vital to getting TRS on a path to actuarial soundness and helping our retirees.

If you support:

  • TRS being actuarially sound;
  • Helping many of our more senior TRS retirees;
  • Creating a plan that ultimately will benefit all TRS retirees;
  • Preserving the TRS fund now and in the future;
  • Taking control of our retirement system and not letting future circumstances rob us of this great retirement system;
  • Making a plan that takes a reasonable, long-term view of managing the system and still delivers on the promise of a defined benefit retirement for all public education retirees…


TRTA will continue to meet with legislative leaders and all interested stakeholders to make these bills better. It is time to recognize that something must be done THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION! It is time for TRS retirees to be the priority.

Special Editor Inclusion—Quote from Vicki Truitt, TRTA Legislative Consultant and former Texas House member and Chair of the Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee:

“Many TRTA members have no idea how much influence their voice has in the legislative process.  It is essential, and now is the time to use it!

Let’s keep up the pressure. Click here to send this important email to your legislators!!

More updates coming this week. New TRS email campaign slated for Thursday! Our momentum is building. We need you and all your friends, family, and fellow retirees to join our efforts. If you are not a member of TRTA and want to join in our struggle to protect retiree benefits and promote the TRS pension benefit program, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650.

TRTA membership is nearly 80,000 strong! We need ALL our retirees to help us be the voice for public education retirees!! Think about the influence TRTA would have if we doubled our membership! Thank you for all you are doing and for your membership support.

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