21 Feb

House Pensions Committee Meeting Tomorrow

The House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee will conduct its first meeting tomorrow, February 22, 2011. Representative Vicki Truitt returns as Chairwoman for the PIFS Committee. TRTA has been invited to share some brief comments on the issues most important to our members this session.

Tim Lee, TRTA Executive Director, will represent TRTA at this hearing. TRTA is very concerned about the proposal to reduce funding for the TRS pension trust fund, as well as the TRS-Care health insurance program. In addition, TRTA members know that TRS retirees have not had a pension increase in 10 years. With no pension increase in 10 years and the decrease in fixed incomes due to increased federal taxes, TRS retirees need some form of benefit increase.

TRTA is your voice in the Texas Legislature. Many TRTA members have contacted us with issues and items they want the legislature to be focused on during this session. If you would like to send your ideas on items that TRTA should bring before the House Pensions Investments and Financial Services Committee, please send a short email with your comments and we will do our best to bring these issues to the attention of the committee members.

In addition, you may want to leave some suggestions or comments on the TRTA Facebook page by clicking here. We will provide a complete update after tomorrow’s meeting.

So far this session, TRTA members have sent more than 30,000 emails to legislators asking for them to make public education retirees a priority this session. We are so appreciative of your help and support. Thank you for all you do to keep Texas Retired Teachers Association a strong voice for all public education retirees.

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17 Feb

House Appropriations to Discuss TRS Budget Today

TRTA to Testify on Need for Pension and Health Care Funding

TRTA members have already sent more than 15,000 emails to legislators this session. Now, TRTA volunteers and staff are preparing to testify in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education today (Monday, February 14). This subcommittee will analyze the TRS budget request. TRTA will report on the need for increased contributions to the TRS pension trust fund and for the TRS-Care health insurance program.

TRTA needs your help! Let’s send a strong message to the members of the House Appropriations Committee reminding them of the need to fund these critical TRS programs adequately.

Normally, TRTA email campaigns are legislative-district specific. This time, all TRTA members are able to email the entire House Appropriations Committee.

If you want to help send a strong message to House budget writers, now is the time to take action! Just click this link and send an email to the members of the Texas House Appropriations Committee.

TRTA will update you on the committee’s actions after today’s meetings.

Thank you for your help and for being a supporter of the Texas Retired Teachers Association!

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17 Feb

Funding Health Care and Pensions a Top Priority

Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education members have closed testimony on the Teacher Retirement System budget request. Thank you to everyone who emailed and voiced your concern to these members asking them to restore cuts to the TRS pension fund and the TRS-Care health insurance program.

Tim Lee, TRTA Executive Director, testified during today’s hearing. TRTA is emphasizing the importance of restoring cuts to the TRS-Care health insurance program.  Earlier in the day, the Teacher Retirement System testified that with a reduction in TRS-Care funding the plan’s projected balance surplus through FY 2014 is $66 million. Managing a health insurance plan with over 200,000 lives and a projected fund balance of $66 million is very difficult to do without considering increasing premiums. TRTA is concerned that the proposed budget cuts will force TRS plan administrators to consider a premium increase in the coming biennium.

TRTA has worked with the legislature for the last 3 sessions to keep retirees from receiving a premium increase. At a time when pension benefits were not increasing, neither were health insurance premiums. This has helped ease the burden on many public education retirees. But, if the proposed budget cuts are not restored to TRS-Care the legislature will be passing the cost of covering those cuts on to you through increased premiums.

Mr. Tom Rogers, TRTA member in Austin, testified that adequately funding the pension trust fund is in the best interest of all Texans. Mr. Rogers discussed the high-value economic impact TRS pensioners generate through spending their pension dollars in Texas. This creates tax revenue for the state and jobs for many thousands of Texans. Mr. Rogers further pointed out that TRS retirees have lost nearly 30 percent of their buying power since the last time retirees received a permanent increase in their pension benefits.

TRTA members are making their voice heard on these cuts and the need to find a way to help retirees this session. Other members of the Austin Retired Teachers Association also appeared before the committee voicing their concerns and registering their position against cutting the budget.

The legislative committee members worked for over 12 hours in yesterday’s hearing. As public testimony in the House subcommittee is now concluded, the TRTA link to communicate with these members has expired. We will, though, continue to advocate for restored funding for the TRS pension trust fund and the TRS-Care health insurance program and will provide you with additional email advocacy campaigns during the session.

Thank you to everyone who sent emails and watched today’s hearing. Your dedication and service to TRTA is greatly appreciated.

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