Blog

17 Jul
0

TRS Board Meets, Discusses Operations During Pandemic

The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) Board of Trustees met July 15-17. The board met virtually again due to the ongoing pandemic. During the meetings, the board discussed the pension plan, long-term facilities planning, the transition back into the office environment, and future meeting plans.

The TRS pension fund has experienced a tumultuous year due to the pandemic. In the first quarter alone, the pension fund’s value decreased by 8.3 percent, which equates to a decrease of approximately $9 billion. Retirees pension checks are secure and won’t experience any fluctuation. However, for any future potential cost-of-living increases, it will be important for the Texas Legislature to continue to invest in TRS. Last session, the Legislature increased its funding for the TRS pension plan by $1.344 billion.

Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) members have expressed that the number one priority may be to protect the funding plan that was secured last session. TRTA is currently working on its legislative platform and will be going full force during the legislative session to protect and improve retiree benefits such as the pension plan and TRS-Care.

TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie led the discussion on the long-term facilities planning. He said that TRS “wants to be working out of buildings that we own by 2025.”

In the meantime, short-term decisions still need to be considered for where to house the TRS Investment Management Division (IMD), and the lease at 816 Congress where IMD resides currently has not yet been renewed due to economic changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mentioning the TRS space at Lot 71, more commonly known to our members as the Indeed Tower, Guthrie said that leasing activity across downtown Austin has been impacted by the pandemic and the current economic environment.

Guthrie said the TRS staff will use the remainder of 2020 to study what exactly space is needed and how TRS is going to get there. This includes the paused work at the Mueller development, which was considered to become the new TRS headquarters. With 25 percent of employees potentially working from home long-term, the current headquarters at Red River may still be a viable, generational space solution for TRS.

The TRS board is not expected to make any decisions about long-term headquarters until December 2020.

Guthrie also discussed the schedule for TRS attending a Sunset Committee hearing to review its evaluation. He said the most likely date for this to occur would be Nov. 12-13. The Sunset review, which was released in April, is available here.

Additionally, Guthrie discussed working with TRTA to attend the fall District conferences. He said if the meetings are held virtually, then he and other staff members will be much more likely to attend. The TRTA Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to cancel all in-person meetings through Dec. 31, 2020.

The next TRS board meeting is set for Sept. 16-18 and will be held virtually too. It’s going to be a very busy fall for TRS as the next Texas legislative session approaches. TRTA will be sure to keep you updated. If you haven’t already, please be sure to sign up for the Inside Line and support our work by becoming a member or by renewing your membership.

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29 Jun
0

Early Voting for July 14 Primary Runoff Election Begins Today!

BE SAFE! VOTE EARLY! VOTE BY MAIL!

Now is the time to plan your voting strategy for the Primary Runoff Election! If you can, please vote by mail. If you must go to the polls, plan to vote early and try to go at a time when lines are shorter. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) advises its members to wear a mask and use social distancing while at the polls.

Candidates

You may click here to see who is on the ballot.

Election Dates – Checklist

  • Vote by mail application received by deadline: July 2, 2020
  • Early Voting Period: June 29, 2020 – July 10, 2020
  • Ballot by Mail Return Deadlines: July 14, 2020 by 7:00 p.m.
  • Primary Runoff Election Day: July 14, 2020

Reminders

  • If you voted in one of the party Primary Elections in March, you may only vote in that party’s primary runoff election.
  • If you did not vote in the March Primary Election and you are a registered voter, you can vote in either runoff now.
  • Runoff elections typically feature lower voter turnout, meaning increased voting power for organized groups like TRTA. Use your voice and show your strength! VOTE TODAY!

Resources

TRTA is a proud partner of Texas Educators Vote, a non-partisan coalition of public education and civic organizations dedicated to creating a culture of voting for educators and students in public schools. Here is a helpful resource page for researching your vote provided by the Texas Educators Vote website.

Vote Now!

Use your voice and help educators make a positive difference at the ballot box! Please encourage your friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors to vote, too! A handful of votes can make all the difference in a Primary Runoff election. Every vote counts!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA and supporting issues that matter to both retired and active educators by voting!

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17 Jun
0

Voter Alert for July 14 Primary Runoff! Mail Ballots Available for Retirees Over Age 65

The Texas Primary Runoff Election will occur on July 14, 2020. The election will feature more than 30 contests and will determine which Democrats and Republicans will appear on the ballot in the November General Election. Click here to view the candidates.

Important Election Dates

  • Vote by mail application received by deadline: July 2, 2020
  • Early voting period: June 29, 2020 – July 10, 2020
  • Ballot by Mail Return Deadlines: July 14 by 7:00 p.m.P
  • Primary Runoff Election Day: July 14, 2020

Who Can Vote in the Runoff Election?

Even if you did not vote in the March Primary Election, you can still vote in the runoff as long as you are a registered voter. Click here to verify your registration!

Texas is an open primary state, so if you did not vote in March, you can vote in either party primary runoff election. If you voted in one of the party primaries in March, then you are eligible to vote in the same party primary runoff only.

The value of your vote matters a lot during the primary runoff election! These elections often have very low voter turnout, and some elections are decided by only a handful of votes.

An organized voice like the one retired educators have can be an outsized influence in the runoff if we make sure to vote for candidates who support TRTA’s priorities.

Talk to your friends and family—and especially active educators—to make sure they vote in this important election!

Vote by Mail

The COVID-19 pandemic spawned a debate over expanding eligibility requirements to vote safely and vote by mail. This issue, which is now in litigation, may be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, retirees over age 65 already are eligible to vote by mail.

In order to use this safe and easy option, you must fill out an application to vote by mail at least once each year. If you have not made this request already in 2020 and you want to vote by mail in this runoff election, you must make a request for ballot by mail to your county registrar by July 2. Register as soon as possible. It takes at least seven days to receive the ballot after your registrar receives your request.

For more information on how to vote safely in this election, use this resource at the non-partisan Texas League of Women Voters. For information about who qualifies and how to use the vote by mail process, including easy to understand instructions and county voter registrar contact information, click here.

We will continue to update you and provide resources as we get closer to each election deadline.

Please use your voice. Let’s get out the vote!

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