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15 Apr
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
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.

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04 Apr
0

TRTA Hosts Successful Convention and Day at the Capitol

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) held its 66thAnnual Convention this week in Austin on April 1-2, followed by a rousing day of advocacy at the Texas Capitol on April 3, where more than 1,500 TRTA members and friends convened to rally and meet with their legislators!

Held at the Hilton Austin, the convention was a two-day affair packed with information, including committee and officer training sessions and a productive House of Delegates meeting. TRTA will provide a full update on bylaws amendments in second quarter issue of The VOICE.

Carlos Ortiz was recognized for his service to TRTF during the luncheon by TRTF President Jamie Larson and Executive Director Tim Lee.

During a fundraising breakfast for TRTA’s charitable partner, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF), TRTA districts, local units and members donated more than $17,000! A video honoring former TRTA Executive Director and TRTF Board Trustee Mike Lehr was also aired for all attendees.

Also at the breakfast, TRTF announced its 2019 Beginning Teacher Scholarship and Classroom Assistance Grant recipients. Click the links below to read the names of all the winners.

TRTF 2019 Beginning Teacher Scholarship Recipients

TRTF 2019 Classroom Assistance Grant Recipients

Former TRTA State President Herbert Norris was presented with this year’s prestigious E.L. Galyean Service Award for his many years of dedicated service to TRTA at both the state and local levels.

Herbert Norris accepts the E.L. Galyean award from President Pat Macias and Executive Director Tim Lee.

All committee and training session resource guides are now available for download from the TRTA website under the Membership/Member Resources tab:

 

Legislative Luncheon Features TRS Director, Legislators

From left to right: TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie, Rep. Mary González (D – Clint), Rep. Greg Bonnen (R – Friendswood) and TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee.

On Tuesday, April 1, TRTA held a well-attended legislative luncheon, featuring a panel led by TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee. Lee started the program, by discussing the current state of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund with TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie.

Representative Greg Bonnen, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III and author of House Bill 9 (the House’s version of the TRS pension fund actuarial soundness bill) also appeared on the legislative luncheon panel, along with Representative Mary Gonzalez, a member of the same subcommittee.

The luncheon gave members the opportunity to hear directly from legislative leaders who are working to establish a long-term funding plan for the pension fund so that the system can become solvent. Until the pension fund becomes actuarially sound, the system cannot provide cost-of-living increases to annuitants due to state law.

Day at the Capitol Event Well-Attended by Retirees and Legislators

TRTA District 10 celebrates a successful Day at the Capitol on the east lawn’s steps.

On Wednesday, April 3, TRTA members from all across the state began arriving on the east lawn of the Texas Capitol, some coming from the Austin Hilton and hundreds arriving on chartered buses. The enthusiastic crowd of educators wore red shirts, carried red bags, and donned specially made bracelets that read “Raise the Base!”

Throughout the day, retirees were honored with proclamations in both the House and the Senate and set up meetings with hundreds of legislators. At noon, hundreds of retirees gathered at the TRTA tent on the east lawn for a rousing rally and heard from multiple legislators.

TRTA wishes to thank all those legislators who took time out their very busy schedules to speak publicly to our members and meet with them one-on-one.

Rep. Lynn Stucky (R – Denton) welcomes Tim Lee, Leroy DeHaven, Tonna Duke and Ella Gauthier to the House floor.

During the rally, TRTA was honored to share the platform with Representative Ron Reynolds, Representative Shawn Thierry, Representative Tony Tinderholt, Representative Phil Stephenson, Representative Ana-Maria Ramos, and Representative Carl Sherman. A staff member from Representative Kyle Biedermann’s office also addressed the crowd. Legislators and their staff also joined members on the east lawn for an ice cream social featuring local favorite Amy’s Ice Cream.

Members, if your legislator took the time to meet with you or join us on the east lawn during Day at the Capitol, please be sure to send a handwritten thank you note or give them a phone call to let them know you appreciate their support. Our Day at the Capitol event made a huge impression and put hundreds of faces to the very real and challenging issues that face Texas public education retirees today.

TRTA is making progress in both the House and the Senate on various legislative agenda items, and we must continue communicating with our legislators about the importance of retirement security for all current and future public education retirees.

Sen. Joan Huffman (R – Houston) meets with TRTA members outside of the Senate chamber.

Thank you to each and every member of TRTA for his or her participation in our convention and Day at the Capitol. Your presence was felt whether you were able to be here in person or participated from home. Thank you to those of you who made phone calls and sent emails, reminding legislators to #RAISETHEBASE!

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

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