Blog

09 Oct
0

TRTA Releases New Video Series: “TRS Retirees Deserve Better!”

Last Day to Register to Vote!

Today is the last day to register to vote! TRTA wants to see all of its members out at the voting polls. You can register to vote here.

Read a special message from TRTA’s Informative & Protective Services committee about the importance of voting!


New Video Series

The 86th Texas legislative session begins Jan. 8, 2019. Prior to that, the midterm elections are on Nov. 6, 2018, and early voting runs from Oct. 22, 2018 through Nov. 2.

Retired educators will have much at stake when lawmakers come to Austin. TRTA is prepared to go to the Legislature. We are going to fight for more pension funding, benefit enhancements for TRS retirees and improved TRS-Care funding.

We are hearing from many of our friends in the Legislature, as well as those seeking office, that the issues related to TRS are important and require resolution.

As a TRTA member or supporter, we know you are already doing your part to help us achieve our policy agenda next session.

If you are new to TRTA, or perhaps you are not yet a member, we want you to know our member advocacy effort is effective, efficient and inclusive. As one TRTA member recently said to me, “We need to get everyone off the sidelines and in the game. I want to tell all TRS retirees to stop messing around, let’s get tough and get active with TRTA!

We agree! There are more than 440,000 TRS retirees or beneficiaries. TRTA membership is growing fast, but we still to get everyone on the team, suited up and ready to win.

This all starts with some very simple, but crucial action steps over the next few weeks and months:

  1. Join TRTA membership and get involved in a local unit—This is the team, we need you on the team! Every coach knows that the team that shows up to work and make things happen is a big part of winning.
  2. Plan to vote—no excuses! Many people tell us they need to know who to vote for. TRTA does not endorse candidates. That said, political leaders and legislators and office seekers are showing up at TRTA local meetings right now! Your friends and colleagues are happy to talk to you about this. If all else fails, call the people running for office and ask where they stand on TRS.
  3. After the vote, no matter the outcome, be prepared to support the people elected and educate, motivate and push them to achieve great outcomes for TRS retirees.
  4. Never, ever, give up. No one can predict what the Legislature will do. Every session is unique and TRTA always plays to win.

Our new video series focuses on key issues for TRS retirees.

This is a short series of videos with the purpose of informing our members and legislators on issues concerning our annuities and health care program.

The video series will cover the following issues:

  • The lack of cost-of-living increases, also known as COLAs, for TRS retirees
  • The change to TRS’s rate of return assumption
  • The necessity for greater TRS-Care funding
  • And the power of a strong defined benefit plan.

These issues form the core of our advocacy strategy and the key to retirement security.

Retirees across the state will be busy voting for and working with legislators in the coming months. By completing these tasks, we want to see our retirees reap the best possible benefits for their years of service.

And we want everyone running for office in Texas to know, understand, and agree that TRS retirees deserve retirement security. TRS Retirees Deserve Better, period!

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02 Oct
0

WHY VOTE? Because Retirees Deserve Better!

As many of our members know, Mr. Bill Barnes has served on the TRTA legislative committee as its Coordinator and Chair for many years. Working side-by-side with Executive Director Tim Lee, Bill has represented the voices of retirees across the state by making hundreds of visits to the Capitol and meeting with every legislator. Although Mr. Barnes will no longer chair the TRTA State Legislative Committee, he will continue to work with TRTA on legislative matters as a consultant and with Tonna Duke as she transitions into this new and exciting role. Bill is so pleased to welcome Tonna to this position, and knows her dedication, thoughtfulness and intelligence will be great assets to the TRTA legislative team.


Hello! My name is Tonna Duke, and I am honored to have been given the opportunity to serve as the TRTA Legislative Coordinator and Chair of the TRTA State Legislative Committee. This committee consists of 20 intelligent, interested and motivated TRTA members working toward the success of TRTA legislative efforts. Our committee members advocate on behalf of all TRTA members with legislators and candidates at the district level and in the Capitol.

A document listing TRTA issues and goals was developed this past summer by members of the legislative committee for use by TRTA members.

WHY VOTE?

  • We must protect the defined benefit plan and funding for the TRS pension fund.
  • There must be a plan for increasing permanent state funding to ensure defined benefits, retirement security and a strong pension fund.
  • We need affordable and accessible health care for ALL Texas education retirees.
  • There is NO long-term funding plan to sustain TRS-Care. The two-year supplemental plan is NOT a permanent solution to our health care funding issue.
  • We must promote an annuity increase for ALL retirees.
  • The cost of living continues to go up, but annuities are relatively stagnant.
  • We support the reform at the national level for Social Security offsets, the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO).
  • Retired Texas educators are penalized under these offsets, and the programs treat retired teachers differently than the rest of the population.

Our committee has been busy trying to increase membership numbers to make our unified voice stronger. Our goal is to ensure all TRTA members are registered to vote and are informed and ready to cast their ballots on November 6. We ask that TRTA members consider voting for candidates who will support TRTA’s issues and those who will actively seek solutions for our priorities.

TRTA leadership at the district and local unit level are researching, visiting and interviewing candidates and legislators to determine which of those individuals will be the ones who support retired teachers.

Please note: The following links are to organizations not administered by TRTA. TRTA doesn’t endorse individual candidates. The links are for informational purposes only.

Click here to see a statewide list of candidates for the November 6 General Election. Click the links below to gather more information on candidates running for political office.

www.vote411.org

www.teachthevote.org

www.texaseducatorsvote.com

All districts and local units are using creative methods to help members gather and share information to help them determine who to vote for. I would like to share just one with you. District 13 has developed a chart to record responses received from legislators and candidates. They have published questions for their members to ask those candidates. This is a good tool that local units can adapt to fit their needs.

Thank you for allowing me to share information from the TRTA State Legislative Committee. Achieving our goals will take 100 percent of TRTA members participating in our legislative efforts and voting on November 6.

WHY VOTE? Because retirees deserve better!

-Tonna Duke

TRTA Legislative Committee Chair

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28 Sep
0

BREAKING: WEP Legislation Filed by Congressman Brady

Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) has filed legislation to replace the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) with a formula equalizing benefits for certain individuals with non-covered employment. The bill is labeled HR 6933, and it is a bipartisan bill co-authored by Richie Neal (D- MA).

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is an unfair federal provision preventing retirees from receiving the Social Security benefits they are owed. The WEP, which took effect in 1983, provides a means of eliminating the “windfall” of Social Security benefits received by beneficiaries who also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security.

Brady created this press release about the bill.

Ninety-five percent of Texas public school employees do not pay into Social Security through their work with Texas schools. However, many have other jobs before, during, or after their employment in education in which they do pay into the federal program.

The bill, known as the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2018, is similar to a bill filed in 2016, H.R. 711, the Equal Protection for Public Servants Act. The bill failed to receive a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee in the summer of 2016, of which Brady is the Chairman.

Congressman Brady has communicated with the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) and other interest groups multiple times over the past two years, indicating his strong desire to continue working to correct an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of retired public servants nationwide.

TRTA, along with our friends at the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) and other active and retired public employee organizations, thank Chairman Brady for his ongoing efforts to fix the unfair and arbitrary WEP. His work with Richie Neal is greatly appreciated.

While there are other bills suggesting a complete repeal of the WEP and the GPO, this is the only bill with Congressional support that may actually be able to move through the very difficult process of getting passed in Congress.

TRTA will have a longer update about this coming as we receive more information.

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