07 May 2011

TRTA Bills Head to House Floor–We Need Your Help

Two TRTA Bills Set for Floor Action
House Vote on Supplemental Payment Bill and TRS Board Composition set for Monday


Click Here to Send an Email Supporting HB 3542 and HB 2120–Read complete update Below


There is some good news for TRS retirees! Two bills are set on the Texas House Calendar for Monday, May 9. HB 3542 by Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock), and HB 2120 by Representative Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) should be taken up in the Texas House sometime Monday. TRTA supports both of these bills and we encourage EVERY TRTA member to send an email or call their Representative asking for their support.

HB 3542 summary: Would allow the TRS Board of Trustees the authority to provide a one-time supplemental payment to TRS retirees contingent upon investment earnings exceeding 8%. Such a payment must maintain the system funding level at 80% or above.
Why TRTA supports this bill:
·         Retirees received a supplemental payment in 2007, and it was a big help to hundreds of thousands of TRS annuitants that are struggling to keep up with their bills and health care costs.
·         Retirees have not received a permanent pension increase in 10 years.
·         The buying power of TRS retirees has diminished by over 30% since 2001.
·         The economic impact on local communities is substantial, in that 95% of TRS benefits—over $6.2 billion—are paid directly to retirees who live in and spend these dollars in Texas.
·         TRS earns over $80 million per day in investments. The cost to the system for providing this one-time payment could, theoretically, be earned back in four days or less.
·         This one-time payment is financed through investment earnings over and above the system’s 8% investment expectations and protects the stability of the pension fund by ensuring payment will only be made if it is at least 80 percent funded. 
·         The one-time expenditure would not have an impact on the state’s general revenue fund.
·         This is not a permanent shift away from legislative authority in granting pension increases or supplemental payments to the TRS Board of Trustees. This is a one-time, emergency relief measure using investment earnings over and above the actuarially assumed return.
This is a good bill. TRTA is very grateful to Representative Larry Gonzales for authoring this legislation and working to get it to the House floor. It protects the pension fund and provides retirees with a supplemental payment just like the one in 2008. TRTA needs your support on this legislation. Your Representative needs to hear from you. Please, click the link below to send your email asking for their support on HB 3542. TRTA provides the basic letter for your convenience, but you may want to enter some information about how a supplemental payment may help you during these difficult economic times.
HB 2120 by Representative Doug Miller: Would allow the designated higher education retiree position on the TRS Board of Trustees to be open to any member of TRS, including public education and higher education retirees as well as active teacher members.
Why TRTA supports this bill:
·         It would allow public education retirees and active members the possibility of greater representation on the TRS Board of Trustees.
·         It would stimulate more interest among TRS members to pursue board positions.
·         It would encourage members to become more involved in decision-making at TRS.
Last session, Representative Miller championed legislation adding a second retiree on the TRS Board of Trustees. The bill was passed unanimously out of the Texas Legislature, but was then vetoed by Governor Perry. TRTA has worked diligently with Representative Miller develop a new bill that is designed to get more parties involved in the TRS election process and one that would not take any direct appointments away from the Governor. This, too, is a good bill and we need the Texas House to support HB 2120. Please click the link below to send an email to your Representative asking for their support on HB 2120.
Update on Other TRTA Action Alerts
Thousands of TRTA members have sent emails and made phone calls supporting other TRTA action alerts in the Texas House and Senate. Action on the bills in these chambers has simply slowed down and we are hopeful that the Gooden/Villarreal amendments in the House and action in the Senate on TRS funding and supporting Senator Robert Duncan’s proposals will occur sometime next week. If you would like to send another email or participate in these legislative campaigns, you may do so by clicking the links below.
Again, TRTA is so thankful for your help and support. We have many legislators working to get things done for you. The good news is progress is being made, and we cannot thank you enough for taking the time to support TRTA with your communication and your membership.
If you are not a TRTA member, but would like to join, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650 and we will be happy to assist in any way we can.
TRTA Action Alert Center (Click any link below to send your Action Alert Email)

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05 May 2011

TRTA Action Alert: We Need Your Help to Protect TRS Funding

TRTA Action Alert–Contact Your Senator


The Senate may take up a “fiscal-matters” bill tomorrow dealing with TRS and the TRS-Care fund. Senator Robert Duncan has authored SB 1666, SB 1667, and SB 1671. These bills all address issues pertaining to TRS. These bills may also be used to move a funding plan forward that is designed to maintain TRS-Care health insurance premiums in the coming biennium.
Please click the link below and send an email to your Senator asking them to support Senator Robert Duncan’s TRS funding plan. If you would like to call your Senator, please use the “TRTA Call Your Legislator Hotline: 1.888.674.3788. Ask your Senator to support Senator Duncan’s TRS funding plan and keep retiree health care costs from increasing 80 percent .”
Again, the bills that Senator Duncan may use for this important action may come up tomorrow (Friday, May 6, 2011). Senator Duncan’s plan will fund TRS-Care in a way that helps prevent a major premium increase for retirees this coming biennium. This plan will also restore over $100 million in funding to the TRS pension trust fund. We must support Senator Duncan and ask the Senate to vote for retired public education employees. (Bills that may be used for this effort include SB 1666, SB 1667, and SB 1671. It is most likely that SB 1671, which should come up tomorrow, is the target bill for Senator Duncan’s work to protect TRS and TRS-Care)

You may also want to call your Senator on Friday and ask them to support Senator Duncan’s efforts to protect the TRS pension and health care programs. Please use the “TRTA Call Your Legislator Hotline: 1.888.674.3788.” The Capitol Switchboard office hours are from 8 AM to 5 PM M-F.

Thank you for your support on short notice. Your emails are making a BIG difference in both the Senate and the House. As a quick update, the House fiscal matters bill, and the Gooden/Villarreal amendments have not come up for a vote and these bills have been postponed. It now may be next week before the House takes up these bills. We will keep you updated.
Thank you again for all you are doing to help. If you are not a member, but would like to join TRTA in our efforts to protect your TRS pension plan and TRS-Care health insurance program, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650 and we will gladly answer any questions you may have.

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04 May 2011

TRTA Action Alert-Still Time to Call and Email

TRTA Members Still Have Time to Call or Email
A vote on the House “fiscal matters” bill was postponed yesterday, but will come up today. HB 3639 is used to make state policy copacetic with the House version of the Texas budget. One of the provisions in this legislation, however, suggests a permanent DECREASE in state funding for the TRS-Care health insurance program.
State Representative Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) is working to resolve this situation. He is offering an amendment to HB 3639 that will make this reduced state contribution to TRS-Care a TEMPORARY, one biennium change. Representative Gooden is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and knows the hardships that retirees are currently facing due to no cost of living increases in 10 years.
TRTA has been informed that State Representative Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) also is working on an amendment to resolve the TRS-Care funding issue. Representative Villarreal is a long-time supporter of public education retirees and a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
Representatives Gooden and Villarreal are working with TRTA to ensure this situation is not used to create a new, permanent funding requirement for TRS-Care.
TRTA members are encouraged to call their legislators using the TRTA “Call Your Legislator Hotline” (1-888-674-3788) and ask them to “support the Gooden and Villarreal amendments on HB 3639 to protect TRS health care” (sorry, there are no bill numbers for amendments to HB 3639). If you are not sure who your state representative is, please click here(
In addition, please send an email in support of the Gooden and Villarreal Amendments by clicking here.
Thank you for your help! We will keep you posted on this important amendment.
The Texas Senate will take up their version of the budget today. TRTA is working closely with Senators and asking them to support efforts by Senators Robert Duncan and Steve Ogden to provide higher funding for the TRS-Care program and the TRS pension Trust fund. Senator Duncan’s proposal is designed to keep TRS-Care premiums from increasing by as much as 80 percent. In addition, the proposal restores over $100 million in funding to the TRS pension trust fund.
This is a busy week with floor action in the House and budget work in the Senate. This may not be the last “Action Alert” this week. Your contributions are appreciated more than we can say.

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