03 May 2011

TRTA Action Alert May 3, 2011

TRTA Action Alert
TRTA Members Urged to Call House Members
The Texas House will take up a “fiscal matters” bill 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.
As you know, the current state contribution required by Texas statute is 1 percent of the aggregate active teacher payroll. The Texas House passed a budget reducing the TRS-Care contribution to .5 percent of the aggregate active teacher payroll.
While TRTA is still working to restore the funding to TRS-Care in the Texas Senate, the House is now voting on the language to make statute in compliance with their budget. HB 3639 is written with language that would permanently change the TRS-Care contribution from 1 percent to .5 percent.
TRTA does not support the reduction of TRS-Care funding from 1 percent to .5 percent. While this position is unchanged, we also must make clear that a permanent reduction in state obligation to this vital health insurance program must NOT be instituted.
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. 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.

Read More
29 Apr 2011

TRTA Legislative Update Week End April 29, 2011

TRTA Updates: Comptroller Security Breach, Legislative Progress, and Budget Slow Down

TRTA members reported that the CSIdentity website created to enroll TRS and other state workers/pensioners into a free credit monitoring program was having technical difficulties. A data field on the web enrollment form was not accepting information even though it was correctly entered. This resulted in the user being kicked out of the enrollment process. TRTA reported this issue to the Comptroller’s office and it is now reported to be resolved after some re-programming of the site.

In addition, TRTA members have asked questions about the call center made available for people who have not been able to enroll successfully in the program online or for those who prefer to do so over the phone. The call center is staffed by agents working for CSIdentity. While the initial call may be answered by an operator, TRTA has been advised that the people enrolling individuals into the free credit monitoring program do work for CSIdentity.

The call center can only process so many calls a day. Due to the large volume of calls, individuals may hear a busy signal or may be on hold for 8 to 10 minutes before speaking with an agent. If you are willing to enroll online, but were not successful earlier today, you may want to try again this weekend since the programming issues have been reported as resolved. If you choose to call in with your enrollment, please be prepared to hold or return the call if you are unable to reach an agent.

As of 4:30 this afternoon, CSIdentity reported enrolling just over 15,000 individuals.

A number of TRTA members have asked if they can cancel with Experian or with CSIdentity if they purchased a program before the free CSIdentity program was announced. TRTA has been advised that both Experian and CSIdentity offer cancellation policies and individuals should contact the company they purchased the program from for more information.

The “fee-based” program offered through CSIdentity does offer additional service/protection options that the “free program” does not. These services include: criminal records monitoring, public records monitoring, payday loan monitoring, sex offender monitoring, change of address monitoring and $10,000 worth of insurance.  Many TRTA members may not need or want the additional protections, and cancellation of the fee-based service is an option to consider.

TRTA will continue to ask questions and provide information in an effort to make this enrollment process easier and faster. Thank you for your feedback today.

Please be advised that as of right now there is no mass mailing or other communication plan underway to inform people about the free credit monitoring program available through CSIdentity. You may want to advise your family, friends, fellow retirees and colleagues about this service.

Information on the free CSIdentity credit monitoring program is available by clicking here.

News from the Legislature

A number of TRS bills moved out of committee yesterday and today. TRTA wants to thank Chairwoman Vicki Truitt for her efforts to move these bills through the legislative process.

  • HB 3542 by Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) that authorizes TRS to use investment earnings above 8 percent to provide TRS retirees with a supplemental payment passed out of the House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Committee yesterday. The vote was not unanimous, but it did pass 8-1 (Chair Truitt, Yes; Vice Chair Anchia, Yes; Anderson, Yes; Creighton, Yes; Hernandez-Luna, Yes; Legler, No; Nash, Yes; Orr, Yes; Veasey, Yes). TRTA will work with the House Calendars Committee and the House leadership to get this bill to the House floor for a vote as quickly as possible.
  • HB 3353 by Chairwoman Truitt (R-Southlake) allows a retiree to return to work after 12 consecutive months in retirement. The bill’s intent is to simplify the current retirement rules, which are onerous and complicated. This legislation does not impact the surcharge assessed in hiring a retiree, and does not have a fiscal impact on the TRS fund.
  • HB 2120 by Representative Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) modifies the TRS Board of Trustee position dedicated to a representative from higher education to become a position that is “open” to any member of TRS. This change makes it possible for a wider array of candidates to run for the trustee position and encourages a broader level of interest in the board election.
  • HB 3747 by Representative McClendon (D-San Antonio) allows for the direct election of the TRS member trustees.

Senate Budget Debate

The Texas Senate is still planning to debate its version of the Texas budget. TRTA will keep you posted on the progress and how it may impact the funding for the TRS trust fund and the TRS-Care health insurance fund.

Thank you for your help this week. With only a few weeks left in the regular session, we will all be working hard to ensure that retirees are not forgotten this session.

Read More
28 Apr 2011

Comptroller Meets with TRTA; Issues Statement

Comptroller Combs Meets with TRTA, Assures Retirees She is Working on the Problem
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs met with TRTA officials per our request this week to discuss what actions will be taken to protect the people whose information was exposed on a public computer server for over a year. Comptroller Combs expressed her deep regret over this incident and assured TRTA she would provide additional protections to all individuals affected by this security lapse.
Today, she released a statement regarding several measures that will help resolve this issue. “I am deeply sorry this incident occurred and I take full responsibility for it,” Combs said. “This incident has affected the lives of Texans that I have dedicated my life to serving, and I am determined to restore their faith in the Comptroller’s office. That’s why we are taking additional actions to assist those who were affected and implementing new policies and procedures to help ensure this never happens again.”
Starting tomorrow (April 29), those who have had their personal information posted due to this security lapse will be able to sign up for free credit monitoring and internet surveillance.
Comptroller Combs also stated that identity restoration services for enrollees whose personal information is misused as a result of the lapse will be paid for by Combs’ campaign fund.
TRTA members can read the complete statement by clicking here (or you can read her statement below).
The posting of personal information of more than 3.5 million records from the Teacher Retirement System, the Employees Retirement System and the Texas Workforce Commission was a serious mistake that has put these individuals at risk of identity theft and fraud. TRTA asked the Comptroller to provide free credit monitoring for everyone impacted by this security lapse. The announcement today is a step in the right direction.
TRTA members should visit the Comptroller’s web site at and read about protecting your personal information. Starting tomorrow, TRTA members are encouraged to sign up for the free credit monitoring and internet surveillance program offered through the Comptroller’s office (the service itself is being provided through CSIdentity). Information about signing up for this free service is also provided on the web site above.
Please note, you are NOT automatically enrolled in this program. The free credit monitoring and internet surveillance program requires you to enroll online or by phone. If you know someone who may not have a computer or who does not receive the Inside Line, please get the word out about this free service.
TRTA has not yet seen the web site that will be used for enrollees, so we welcome your feedback on how the enrollment process works. Again, enrollment for 1-year free credit monitoring and internet surveilance begins Friday, April 29 and ends on July 27, 2011.
While this is a difficult situation and one that we wish had never happened, we do want to express our appreciation to Comptroller Combs for personally meeting with TRTA officials. Her sincerity in working to resolve this issue is clear, and we expect that her office will develop the safeguards necessary to always protect TRS retired and active members now and in the future.
Thank you for your membership in TRTA. We know these have been challenging months and that the legislative session has been filled with uncertainty. The good news is that TRTA members are making a difference this session! If you are not a member but would like to join, please contact the TRTA office at 1.800.880.1650.
From the Office of Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
“For Immediate Release              Contact: Allen Spelce
April 28, 2011                                                                                                                       R.J. DeSilva
                                                                                                                                          (512) 463-4070                                                                                                                 Comptroller Combs Takes Additional Actions to Assist People Affected by Unauthorized Data Posting and to Enhance Data Security
Free Credit Monitoring Offered As of Friday Morning 
Combs to Cover Cost of Identity Restoration Services
(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today announced a series of additional actions her office is taking to address the unauthorized posting of certain personal information on one of the agency’s file transfer servers.
“I am deeply sorry this incident occurred and I take full responsibility for it,” Combs said. “This incident has affected the lives of Texans that I have dedicated my life to serving, and I am determined to restore their faith in the Comptroller’s office. That’s why we are taking additional actions to assist those who were affected and implementing new policies and procedures to help ensure this never happens again.”
The additional measures being taken to assist those affected by the incident include:
  • Beginning at 7 a.m., April 29, 2011, one year of credit monitoring and Internet surveillance offered at no charge to those affected by the unauthorized posting of their personal information; and
  • Identity restoration services for enrollees whose personal information is misused as a result of the data posting, paid for by Combs’ campaign fund.
As previously announced, a website ( is available to provide affected people with information about protective measures they can take. A call center for affected individuals also has been established.
The additional measures being taken to help ensure that a similar incident does not happen again include:
  • Installing software that will provide automatic alerts when certain sensitive personal information moves into or out of the agency;
  • Adding staff and reorganizing lines of reporting to enhance information security. The agency will hire a Chief Privacy Officer who, along with the existing positions of Chief Technology Officer, Information Security Officer and Internal Auditor, will report directly to the agency’s Deputy Comptroller;
  • Providing enhanced security awareness and training for appropriate personnel;
  • Implementing a new secure file transfer system that provides enhanced encryption; and
  • Obtaining an information security risk assessment from one of the world’s leading information technology consulting firms.
The agency already has secured all existing personal data it maintains on its file transfer servers and has implemented around-the-clock manual monitoring of databases until the automatic alert system is installed.
The free credit monitoring service, provided through CSIdentity, alerts subscribers to certain activity associated with their credit files, such as credit inquiries, or account openings, closings or delinquencies. Subscribers will also receive CSIdentity’s Internet surveillance service, which monitors chat rooms and websites for personal information. 
Information about the program offer is available at For confidentiality reasons, CSIdentity requires that each affected person enroll directly through the website, rather than through the Comptroller’s office. Enrollment for free credit monitoring will be available to affected individuals during a 90-day period beginning 7 a.m., April 29, 2011, through July 27, 2011. Those who do not have online access may call toll free 1-877-219-1189 beginning April 29, 2011.
In a separate service paid for by Combs’ campaign fund, CSIdentity will provide identity restoration services to anyone whose personal information is misused as a result of the data posting. To qualify for this offer, individuals must be enrolled in CSIdentity’s free credit monitoring service offered to those affected. There is no indication that anyone’s personal information has been misused in connection with this incident. 
Some people whose personal information was affected may have already signed up for discounted credit monitoring and identity protection services offered by several service providers through the Comptroller’s office. Those companies have cancellation and refund policies, and individuals who signed up can contact the companies if they wish to cancel.
The general toll-free number for the Texas Safeguard program is 1-855-474-2065, or people can visit”

Read More