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01 Mar
0

TRTA Day at the Capitol Event Shaping Up!

Four weeks from today, thousands of public education retirees from all across the great state of Texas will convene at the Capitol to rally for improved benefits and health care security!

Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Day at the Capitol will be held on Wednesday, March 29, as members encourage legislative action to address the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program shortfall and other vital issues!

If you have questions about the day’s schedule, what to wear, where to meet, and how to get involved, then be sure to read our comprehensive update (includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions) by clicking here!

Are you Making Plans to Attend Day at the Capitol? Let Us Know!

You can let us know if you’re attending TRTA Day at the Capitol by joining our Facebook event!

If your district or local unit is bringing a large group to the event, send an email to info@trta.org with details such as how many people will be attending. (Please note, individual members do not need to RSVP if they have registered for the 64th Annual TRTA Convention).

Help Now By Calling Your Senators and Representatives!

TRTA is encouraging its members to begin making phone calls to legislators about the March 29 event!

Use the toll-free legislator hotline (1.888.674.3788) to call your Senator and Representative today!

Be sure to invite them to the Rally on the South Steps at 11:30 a.m. and the Ice Cream Social on the East Lawn at 12:30 p.m. We want legislators speaking to retirees at both events, and to visit one-on-one with retirees as well. If your legislator wants to speak during Day at the Capitol, have them give us a call at 1.800.880.1650 and ask for Cindee.

Thank You!

TRTA IS THE VOICE FOR EDUCATION RETIREES, and we want to be seen and heard during Day at the Capitol. We want to thank all of you who plan to attend or help us communicate with legislators about the big day.

The planning is well underway and we are looking forward to having as many members as possible here for this legislative event. Your phone calls, emails, and presence in Austin are all going to help advance the issues most important to you and your retirement.

Again, thank you for all you do! TRTA will continue to update you on our plans for March 29.

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28 Feb
0

TRS-Care: All Member, Statewide Action Alert!

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR SENATOR: All TRTA members are asked send an email urging Senators to “Keep TRS-Care Affordable!”

The 85th Legislative Session began on January 10, 2017, and movement on issues impacting public education retirees is happening quickly! The Senate Finance Committee has met multiple times to discuss the TRS–Care health insurance program, and has appointed a special workgroup of Senators to focus solely on state-vested health care plans.

TRTA is championing TRS–Care at every possible opportunity, as this program is a necessity for more than 260,000 retirees and dependents. TRS-Care has been the subject of much discussion amongst legislators due to its funding shortfall, which sits at $1 billion!

TRS–Care is teetering on insolvency and collapse. Shared pain—the idea that everyone connected to the plan pays a little more—has solved funding problems in the past. However, the state is suffering from a slowed economy, schools are fighting to remain financially stable and active employees’ wage growth is being eaten away by increasing health care costs.

So far, the Legislature has conducted one interim study that provides two possible solutions (see TRTA’s review from the 2016 4th quarter issue of The VOICE).

Senate budget writers are discussing your TRS-Care program, but the proposed plan on “fixing” TRS-Care means you could be paying a lot more!

In one scenario, a pre-65 TRS-Care participant’s out-of-pocket costs could be as high as $12,130 per year!

The TRS-Care program is set to change drastically. The bottom line is that retirees will pay more, have fewer benefits and should expect more of the same in the years to come! Unless, the Legislature and stakeholders work together to fix the TRS-Care’s broken funding system!

Many retirees, including some TRTA members, are still either uninformed about this issue or do not think this will impact them!

TRTA is sounding the alarm: anyone in TRS-Care or who will retire soon and plans to enroll may see drastic changes to their health care options! 

We need your help! Now is the time to take action to protect TRS–Care and your retirement security! We need EVERY TRTA member involved in the initiative to keep TRS-Care affordable!

TRTA has crafted a complete overview of where TRS-Care discussions stand today, with a short overview you can read below. To read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care, click here!

QUICK FACTS:

  • The TRS-Care funding system is broken;
  • Current budget proposals do not provide new funding for TRS-Care;
  • Without additional funding, TRS-Care will be unaffordable for many;
  • SB 788 has been filed and would provide for sweeping changes to TRS-Care, including a high deductible plan structure for pre-65 retirees;
  • The lack of new and substantial increases to TRS-Care funding will shift the majority of costs onto retirees;
  • Total premium and deductible costs for pre-65 retirees could explode to $12,130 per year (see our FAQ for complete details);
  • Retirees over the age of 65 would have access to a Medicare Advantage plan only and premiums would increase for most participants;
  • According to the Interim Study Report, retirees over the age of 65 who currently qualify for Medicare B only, will be addressed, and even may receive a premium decrease;
  • TRTA believes the base funding for TRS-Care should double, but so far discussions have been dominated by how much cost-shifting can be forced onto retirees in the program;
  • TRS-Care has over 60,000 participants under the age of 65. They may be hit hard with tremendous cost increases;
  • TRS-Care has over 190,000 participants over the age of 65. While the proposed changes to these retirees are less severe, your voice is still needed to keep TRS-Care affordable!

HOW YOU CAN HELP TODAY!

  • TRTA is urging all members to call your Senator and ask them to “Keep TRS-Care Affordable!”
  • Let’s make at least 20,000 phone calls to our Senators this session!;
  • Make a plan to make regular, once-weekly phone calls to your elected officials asking them to “Keep TRS-Care Affordable!”
  • Use the toll-free Legislator Hotline (1.888.674.3788) to make your once-weekly calls;
  • Use our helpful phone scripts when speaking to your Senator or their staff members;
  • Click here to send an email to your Senator;
  • If you participate in TRS-Care, we need you and you need TRTA! Click here to JOIN TRTA or to RENEW YOUR DUES;
  • TRTA believes that our members MUST be heard. Your VOICE is needed NOW! Make a commitment to take action today!

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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27 Feb
0

TRTA Day at the Capitol Announced: March 29, 2017!

TRTA Day at the Capitol is set for Wednesday, March 29, 2017 on the heels of the 64thAnnual TRTA Convention. Day at the Capitol raises awareness on Texas public education retirees’ most important issues and encourages immediate legislative action to address them.

TRTA is expecting a big crowd! District and local leaders are making transportation plans to visit Austin, and the TRTA staff is happy answer any questions you may have. Below are some important facts you need to know about TRTA Day at the Capitol. Please call 1.800.880.1650 or email info@trta.org with questions or comments.

RSVPs Required

Help TRTA get a headcount for Day at the Capitol! If your district or local unit is bringing a large group to the event, send an email to info@trta.org with details such as how many people will be attending. You do not need to RSVP if you have registered for the 64th Annual TRTA Convention.

You can also let us know if you’re going by joining our Facebook event!

TRTA Day at the Capitol Schedule of Events

7:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.                    Shuttle service from Hilton to Capitol for Convention attendees

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.                            Legislative Visits

9:30 a.m.                                        House Gallery

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.                Photo opportunities with legislators (TRTA staff photographer is first come, first served)

10:30 a.m.                                      Senate Gallery

11:30 a.m.                                      Rally on the Capitol South Steps

12:00 p.m.                                      Additional Legislative Visits

12:30 – 2:30 p.m.                          Ice Cream Social on the East Lawn

1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.                   Return shuttle service to Hilton Austin for Convention attendees

Capitol Map

Download the Capitol Building Guide here

Capitol Parking

Parking at the Texas Capitol is located at 1201 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin, TX 78701. Parking in a state parking garage is free for the first 2 hours and $1.00 for each half hour thereafter. The maximum daily charge is $12.00. You may enter the garage off of E. 12th Street or E. 13th Street. The exit is onto San Jacinto Boulevard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What time will Day at the Capitol begin?

TRTA Day at the Capitol has a general start time of 9:00 a.m., though staff and volunteers will be there to greet you by 8:00 a.m. The Day at the Capitol has been scheduled on a Wednesday so that participants close to Austin or those spending the night may be able to visit with their legislators or attend any scheduled morning legislative committee hearings. Those wanting to visit a legislative committee hearing will need to check with TRTA a few days before the event to see what committee meetings are scheduled for that date. For members who are attending the 64th Annual TRTA Convention in Austin and staying at the Hilton, TRTA will provide continuous service shuttle buses to and from the Texas Capitol in twenty-minute increments. Rides to the Capitol begin at 7:00 a.m. and end at 10:30 a.m. Return rides to the Hilton begin at 1:30 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. An ADA bus will be available the entire day.


When will the first TRTA event happen?

TRTA members are asked to make their way to the House gallery (3rd floor west) no later than 9:30 a.m. on March 29. We hope to fill the House and Senate visitor galleries with members so that they will be recognized by legislative leaders. TRTA will have a proclamation read into the record recognizing March 29 as TRTA Day at the Capitol. Upon the statement being read into the record, TRTA members are ENCOURAGED to APPLAUD WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM! TRTA is also working with legislative leaders on making a presentation to the House and Senate regarding the number of volunteer hours members have given and the number of books donated through the Children’s Book Project over the past year.


What about the Senate?


When will we visit the legislators?

The TRTA Day at the Capitol is ultimately about our members making their presence known to their elected officials. Depending on your planned arrival time, early morning legislative appointments can be made between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. TRTA wants to have as many members as possible in the House gallery by 9:30 a.m. and the Senate gallery by 10:30 a.m. TRTA members should be able to make additional mid-morning and afternoon appointments between 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. (depending upon how long members are able to stay).

Keep in mind that many legislators may be attending committee meetings that morning. If you know that your legislator(s) is scheduled to be in a specific committee, you may want to visit that committee hearing before it starts or as it is finishing so that you may see them before the start of the floor session. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to visit with your legislator’s key staff. These hard-working, dedicated employees are responsible for letting their boss know what you have to say. If you cannot see your legislator, visiting with their staff is a very good way to deliver the TRTA message.


What if I want a photo taken of me with my legislator(s)?

Many members want to have a picture taken for publication in their local unit newsletter, website, and/or in local newspapers. TRTA will have volunteers to take pictures with you (and your group) and your legislator(s), although available times are limited. You may request that a TRTA photographer be present at your appointment to take a photo by sending an email to info@trta.org, Subject Line: Day at the Capitol Photo. Photo appointments are first come, first served. In lieu of having a TRTA staff member take your photo, you can often ask a legislative staffer to take your photo with your legislator using your camera or phone.


Will TRTA provide handouts?

Yes. TRTA is developing a one-page handout that you can provide to your legislator or their staff. The important part is that you, as their constituent, are the person delivering this information. TRTA members coming to the Day at the Capitol will also receive a free commemorative TRTA tote bag! Bags and information will be handed out at the various Capitol building entrances.


How can I find other TRTA members in my area who plan to come to this event?

TRTA District Presidents and local unit leaders may be chartering buses, planning carpools or helping to connect members that may be coming on their own for this event. If you do not know how to contact local TRTA leaders in your area, click on this link to find your TRTA Local Unit Web Page.


I am coming on my own and am thinking about spending the night. Where is a good place to stay?

TRTA has lodging benefits at the Drury Inn and La Quinta. Click here to learn more.


What are some other important items I need to know?

Perhaps the most important fact to know about visiting the Texas Capitol is that it is always very busy. Plan your schedule so that you have least twenty minutes between appointments or events. All Capitol entrance doors require visitors to pass through metal detectors and have their bags searched. TRTA members who have a Texas-issued concealed handgun license (CHL) may use a quicker security line that bypasses metal detectors and bag search. Buses coming to the event must unload passengers on the east side of the Texas Capitol. Due to the long lines that may form at the Capitol’s east door, TRTA members that are willing and able should utilize alternate Capitol entrances (north, south, and west). Please be aware that the only wheelchair accessible ramp is located at the Capitol’s north entrance. View the Capitol Accessibility Guide here.


What should I wear?

TRTA members are encouraged to wear red shirts. This is the color we have used in previous sessions, and it makes our crowd instantly recognizable. We suggest wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. Making a good impression is always important, but this will be a long day for many of our members from outlying TRTA districts and local units.


Will there be a central staging or rally area?

TRTA will host a press conference at approximately 11:30 a.m. on the south steps of the Texas Capitol. Between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., TRTA will host an old-fashioned ice cream social under the tent on the east lawn. Please invite your legislators and their staff to attend. Join us for free ice cream, water, and fun with your legislators and fellow TRTA members!


What should I do for lunch?

TRTA is not providing a lunch meal during Day at the Capitol, but recommends that visitors go to the Capitol Grill on Floor E1 (Room E1.002). The Capitol Grill has a wonderful selection of lunch items, including food made-to-order, a salad bar, and pre-made meals.


I am not able to come, but I want to help. What can I do to make this event successful for TRTA?

Those who are not able to attend may make phone calls and send emails announcing and promoting the event to their legislators. A special email campaign is being developed about the March 29 TRTA Day at the Capitol. TRTA is hoping for a tidal wave of grassroots communication about this event to legislative offices from now until the big day. We want every legislator in Texas to know that TRTA is coming to the Capitol on March 29.


What You Can Do to Help Now!

TRTA IS THE VOICE FOR EDUCATION RETIREES, and we want to be seen and heard during Day at the Capitol.

We want to thank all of you who plan to attend or help us communicate with legislators about the big day.

The planning is well underway and we are looking forward to having as many members as possible here for this legislative event. Your phone calls, emails, and presence in Austin are all going to help advance the issues most important to you and your retirement.

Again, thank you for all you do! TRTA will continue to update you on our plans for March 29. For now, we ask that you begin making phone calls and letting your legislators know we are looking forward to SEEING THEM ON MARCH 29! Use the toll-free legislator hotline (1.888.674.3788) to call your Senator and Representative today!

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