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24 Jan
0

Senate Finance Committee Meets, Discusses Teacher Retirement System Budget Requests

Today, January 24, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee met to discuss several state budget items, including requests from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) for the pension fund and the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

Today’s meeting was just the beginning of numerous budget discussions to be had over the course of the legislative session.

Several TRTA members were in attendance today to represent the 250,000-plus participants in TRS-Care and 375,000 retirees statewide. Your voices were heard! TRTA is ready to work with the Legislature, including the health care work group that was appointed by Senate Finance Chairman Jane Nelson, to find solutions that still provide access to quality, affordable health care for our public education retirees.

It is clear from today’s meeting, however, that in order for TRS-Care to survive, everyone will need to pay more. Retirees want to do their part and are ready to do so, but are limited in what they can afford. TRTA is asking the Legislature to prioritize TRS-Care this session, and to develop long-term solutions that include additional state and employer contributions.

TRTA is ready to discuss options such as health care containment with the Senate work group, and there is hope for increased savings to the program. However, these efforts alone will not solve the TRS-Care shortfall. More appropriations are necessary to resolve the current shortfall, and keep the program sustainable for the future.

Members, we know this will be a difficult road, but TRTA wants you to know that you are not walking along this road alone. We have many friends in the Texas Legislature that understand the seriousness of this issue and that our retirees live on fixed incomes. We can solve the TRS-Care crisis, but it will take all of us working together! TRTA is prepared to be your voice in these vital discussions.

Tomorrow, we will provide a more detailed update, sharing some of the questions, comments, and concerns from Senators, as well as information about the status of TRS-Care and the pension fund as provided by TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie. Testimony given by TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee will also be shared. Please stay tuned for tomorrow’s expanded coverage of today’s Senate Finance Committee meeting.

Thank you for your continued diligence and persistence in contacting your legislators about vital retirement security issues. It is because of you that we are able to establish strong working relationships with legislators and create a better future for all Texas public education retirees.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you are not yet a member, we need you to help us protect your retirement security. Please join TRTA today!

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

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23 Jan
0

Senate Finance Meets Tomorrow! Contact Your State Senators Today!

CLICK HERE TO EMAIL YOUR SENATOR

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is so grateful for its members, who continue to be proactive and focused on pertinent issues this legislative session!

TRTA members already have sent more than 1,700 emails to their Senators about tomorrow’s very important Senate Finance meeting. If you have not emailed your Senator yet, please do so today!

This meeting is just the beginning of budget discussions that will go on for the next five months regarding TRS-Care and the pension fund! Every Senator must be informed about TRS-Care’s looming shortfall.

Public comment will be welcome at the meeting as well. If you wish to attend or speak, please arrive at the meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, January 24, 2017) no later than 8:30 a.m. in room E1.036 of the Texas Capitol. A live broadcast of the meeting will be viewable on your computer from this link once the meeting begins at 9:00 a.m.

TRTA Membership Continues to Grow!

TRTA has grown to more than 81,000 members! Thank you for being a part of our organization and helping us advocate for the 375,000 retirees of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and the 1,000,000-plus pre-retirees (active educators) who will also count on TRS for their retirement security one day!

If you know of a fellow retiree who is not yet a member, please encourage them to join us! Each new member helps us work for better TRS-Care funding and for improved benefits such as cost-of-living increases!

Many members have asked us about our legislative agenda for this very busy session. TRS-Care funding, which impacts 260,000 retirees and dependents, is a top priority this year. Additionally, we are looking at opportunities for cost-of-living increases or supplemental payments to help put more money back into your pocketbook.

Work has begun already on our federal issues as well. Congressman Kevin Brady continues to be a strong advocate for repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), and is in the process of filing legislation for this congressional cycle. TRTA will visit Washington, D.C. in February, meeting with your Congressmen about the WEP, as well as the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

This week, members of the TRTA State Legislative Committee begin coming to Austin to meet one-on-one with State Senators and Representatives and their staff, and will start hand-delivering your personal letters. Thank you for the thousands of members who have taken the time to share their experiences on paper. Your words matter! If you have not yet sent in your letter, you may download a template here.

Please mail your letters to: TRTA, Attn: TRS-Care, 313 E. 12th Street, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78701. If you are not sure who your Texas State Senator and Texas State Representative are, please visit this link and enter your address to find out who represents you.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you are not yet a member, we need you to help us protect your retirement security. Please join TRTA today!

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

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19 Jan
0

TRTA Member Action Alert: Senate Finance Committee to Meet Tuesday!

Send an email to your Senator about the urgency of addressing TRS-Care today by clicking here!

As the 85th Legislative Session begins moving at breakneck speed, committees are already meeting and discussing issues vital to your retirement security! (See a list of all Senate Committees and their members by clicking here).

On Tuesday, January 24, the Senate Finance Committee will hear from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) regarding their Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Included in this request is funding for the financially burdened TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

As part of the request submitted by TRS in August 2016, an exceptional item for retiree health funding in the amount of $1.35 billion above the standard 1% of aggregate active teacher payroll from the state is included.

“TRS-Care, the Retired Employees Group Insurance Program, historically receives state funding equal to 1.0% of active public school employee payroll per year. Our request includes funding for the 1.0% contribution and assumes covered payroll growth of 3.5% for the public education sector. Additionally, TRS is requesting an exceptional item in the amount of $1.35 billion to provide for fiscal solvency through the end of FY 2019.”

Earlier this week, the Senate filed its budget bill (read SB 1 in its entirety by clicking here). In the filed version of the bill, the exceptional item requested by TRS is not included.

Members, this is just the beginning of budget discussions that will go on for the next five months!

We need every Senator to be informed about the looming shortfall to TRS-Care! This issue is vital to the retirement security of nearly 260,000 public education retirees. If nothing is done this session to improve funding for TRS-Care, premiums could increase by 150%.

In this scenario, a retiree currently paying $300 per month may have to pay as much as $750 per month. A significant reduction in retirees’ benefits could make doctor visits unaffordable.

The Texas Senate must be informed that retiree’s pocketbooks cannot be solely responsible for keeping TRS-Care afloat. We can solve the TRS-Care crisis, but it will take all of us working together! TRTA is prepared to be your voice in these vital discussions.

Be sure to send an email to your Senator today! Click here.

Public comment will be welcome at next week’s Senate Finance Committee meeting. If any members wish to attend, the meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. in Room E1.036 of the Texas Capitol. A live broadcast of the meeting should be available from this link once the meeting begins on Tuesday.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you are not yet a member, we need you to help us protect your retirement security. Please join TRTA today!

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

Read More