Blog

17 Apr 2019
0

Senate Bill 12 Postponed in House Until Next Week

Executive Summary:

  • At 3:30 PM (CDT) TRTA’s Tim Lee and Bill Barnes will hold a Facebook Live event answering member questions!
  • Please keep calling (1.888.674.3788) and emailing your Representatives asking for their support of SB 12!
  • SB 12 delayed by one week in the Texas House
  • The bill’s author is using the time to refine the bill

Earlier this week, members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) were informed that debate would occur and a vote would be taken on the House version of Senate Bill 12 (SB 12). The bill, which was going to be heard on Tuesday, April 16, has now been postponed.

Be sure to tune in today at 3:30 PM (CDT) to TRTA’s Facebook page for a Facebook Live event with Tim Lee and Bill Barnes. They will be answering member questions. The broadcast will also be available afterwards on the Facebook page in the videos section.

SB 12 is the Senate’s version of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) actuarial soundness bill. SB 12 passed the Senate with a vote of 31-0 in favor of the bill on March 25 and was then sent to the House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee (PIFS) in early April.

SB 12 is now on the schedule in the Texas House for next week on Thursday, April 25. The bill’s author opted to postpone SB 12, allowing another week to work on the bill.

As we get closer to the end of the legislative session, strategic decision-making can sometimes lead to delays in a bill’s progress. This does not mean, however, that SB 12 will not continue through the legislative process and receive a vote.

TRTA members know the legislative session is full of twists and turns and nothing should be taken for granted. We also know that now is not the time to give up hope, as we feel strongly that Chairman Greg Bonnen is working hard to make sure TRS and TRS retirees benefit as much as possible under his bill. It is certainly possible that any changes made to the bill over the next week will improve it.

TRTA is steadfast in its support of the House and Senate and the work they are doing to ensure solvency of the TRS pension fund and provide retirees with a benefit increase this session.

The House plan for SB 12 in its present form:

  • Makes the TRS pension system actuarially sound by increasing the state contribution rate only and does not increase the contributions percentages for active employees or TRS-covered employers who do not pay Social Security.
  • The state contribution would increase to 7.8 percent in 2020 and 8.05 percent in 2021 on its way to an eventual increase to an 8.8 percent contribution rate by 2025.
  • Provides for a one-time supplemental payment no later than September 2020 in the amount of the member’s regular monthly annuity, not to exceed $2,400. By comparison, the Senate version of the bill caps the payment at $500.
  • Provides for an overall biennial appropriation of state funds at $1.4 billion to pay for the increased state contribution percentage and the one-time supplemental payment.

Now is the time for TRTA members to reassert their support for SB 12 and ask House members to keep retiree issues in the forefront of legislative action. Though many retirees are anxious to see SB 12 move forward, it is important to understand and support the need for ongoing discussion and potential refinement or improvement.

TRTA remains eager to hear about the bill’s development and looks forward to its favorable support from the Texas House. We strongly support increased funding to the TRS pension fund, and we know that many retirees are in desperate need of a supplemental payment or other benefit increase. We support any financial increases that will help TRS retirees. TRTA encourages passage and a strong commitment from legislators to vote favorably on the House’s version of the SB 12 plan.

Send an email to your Representative today asking for their support of SB 12!

Thank You

Thank you for your commitment to TRTA. Many bills are in motion that can positively impact your retirement! It’s a very important time to stay tuned to the Inside Line, as there will be multiple updates from now until the end of session in May.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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15 Apr 2019
0

Senate Bill 12 on House Calendar for April 16

Executive Summary

The Texas House of Representatives will debate and vote on the House version of Senate Bill 12tomorrow, Tuesday, April 16. As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) may know, SB 12 is the Senate’s version of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) actuarial soundness bill. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 31-0 in favor of the bill on March 25 and was then sent to the House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee (PIFS) in early April.

The House PIFS Committee made several changes to the original version of SB 12. TRTA encourages passage and a strong commitment from legislators to vote favorably on the House’s version of the plan.

The House plan for SB 12:

  • Makes the TRS pension system actuarially sound by increasing the state contribution rate only and does not increase the contributions percentages for active employees or TRS-covered employers who do not pay Social Security.
    • The state contribution would increase to 7.8 percent in 2020 and 8.05 percent in 2021 on its way to an eventual increase to an 8.8 percent contribution rate by 2025.
  • Provides for a one-time supplemental payment no later than September 2020 in the amount of the member’s regular monthly annuity, not to exceed $2,400. By comparison, the Senate version of the bill caps the payment at $500.
  • Provides for an overall biennial appropriation of state funds at $1.4 billion to pay for the increased state contribution percentage and the one-time supplemental payment.

Use our Action Alert here!

TRTA fully supports the House version of SB 12 as it meets the goal of raising the base funding by providing a permanent increase in contributions to the pension fund. The TRS pension system will reach the definition of actuarial soundness required in statute to provide retirees with a benefit increase if SB 12 passes. The bill also provides a one-time payment to retirees, which covers the average increase in health care costs from last session for the majority of retirees.

Please call your Representative today and tell them:

  • Thank you for paying attention to the needs of retired Texas educators;
  • Please vote for and pass the House version of SB 12; and
  • Please do all you can to support the $2400 payment and not a lower amount in budget negotiations.

Thank You

Thank you for your commitment to TRTA. Many bills are in motion that can positively impact your retirement! It’s a very important time to stay tuned to the Inside Line, as there will be multiple updates from now until the end of session in May.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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10 Apr 2019
0

Senate Bill 12 On Its Way to House Floor, It’s Time to #RAISETHEBASE!

Executive Summary:

  • TRTA Day at the Capitol hosted approximately 1,500 retirees
  • SB 12 is headed to the House floor
  • Return-to-work bills are in motion
  • TRTA continues to push for additional TRS-Care funding
  • Use TRTA’s Action Alert to encourage your legislator to put as much funding into the TRS pension as possible!

Last week was big for retired teachers! Approximately 1,500 retirees flooded the Senate and House chambers of the Texas Capitol to demonstrate their desire for improved funding for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and TRS-Care.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) deeply appreciates all the retirees who made it to Austin to show their support. We are also grateful to legislators, including Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, for their warm welcome. Since the Day at the Capitol, TRTA has seen positive progress on several issues.

The House version of the #RAISETHEBASE bill has been incorporated with Senate Bill 12.The bill proposes to make the TRS pension fund actuarially sound and provide a supplemental check to retirees.

SB 12 will be the bill to watch over the next few weeks. The bill will likely end up in a conference committee. Legislators are deciding how much money to allocate towards the bill and the funding sources.

Return-to-Work Bills

In addition to pension funding, TRTA has been working closely with legislators to change the TRS return-to-work provisions. Some retirees who have been hit with increased health care costs want to return to work, but current provisions are limiting them. TRTA has been working with Rep. Gene Wu (D – Houston) and Rep. Dan Flynn (R – Van) to remedy this situation.

For some retirees, this would be an important change to help make ends meet. Additionally, a change in the rules would increase the labor pool for school districts to handle employee shortages.

Bills are expected to come up in committee tomorrow, and TRTA will keep you posted as their status changes.

TRS-Care Update

TRTA is continuing to push the Legislature to #RAISETHEBASE funding for the TRS-Care program. We are grateful to the Legislature for including funding to make sure TRS-Care can fund its programs with no premium increases for the next two years. However, TRTA’s concern is that the base funding be increased going forward so that the future of the program will be in better shape and the program won’t continue to experience financial shortfalls.

Retirees suffered heavily from the expenses incurred last session. While premiums and health care related expenses are expected to remain the same this biennium, it’s becoming more difficult for retirees to afford the insurance. TRTA will continue to work with the Legislature to see if more can be done for TRS-Care.

Thank You

Thank you for your commitment to TRTA. Many bills are in motion that can positively impact your retirement! It’s a very important time to stay tuned to the Inside Line, as there will be multiple updates from now until the end of session in May.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Read More