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22 Mar
0

TRTF “Donate Your Date” Fundraiser Launches Today!

Today, March 22, 2021, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) launches its first-ever “Donate Your Date” fundraising campaign!

As our public education retirees continue to deal with the ramifications of COVID-19, the need for financial assistance continues to grow. Many retirees who supplemented their income with substitute teaching either lost those jobs or had to make the tough choice to stay home due to health concerns.

This also marks the first year in TRTA’s new two-year cycle that there will not be an annual convention. In years past, TRTF hosted a meal event to raise funds for its many charitable programs during the convention. This year, TRTF had planned to do something similar for TRTA’s Zoom to the Capitol event; however, the event will now be held virtually instead of in person.

The TRTF Board of Trustees asked themselves, “How do we support retirees in need and fund our scholarships and grants for active teachers while ensuring the health and safety of TRTA members?”

TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee had the perfect solution: “DONATE YOUR DATE!” TRTA members who know Tim Lee personally know his heart is as big as Texas! The idea is simple and very effective for our virtual fundraising event—not to mention FUN!

What Does “Donate Your Date” Mean?

Tim Lee explains in this helpful video!

The idea is to donate an amount of money based on a date that is meaningful to you!

For example, Tim Lee started working for TRTA in 2004. He wants to donate $200.40 to TRTF to honor this important milestone in his life! Other great examples include donating based on a wedding anniversary, a child or grandchild’s birthday, or even the day you retired or joined TRTA!

Is your wedding anniversary on February 14? Consider donating $2.14, $21.40, or $214! Maybe someone you love received the great news they beat cancer on June 8, 2014 and you’d like to honor them by giving $68.14!

Any amount will be a tremendous help to TRTF as we strive to fund our important programs, like “A Helping Hand,” the Disaster Relief Fund, the TRTF Tutor Program, and more!

How to Donate Your Date!

  1. Make a donation online! Visit www.trtf.org/donateyourdate. Prefer snail mail? Download the special donation form and mail to TRTF, Attn: Donate Your Date, 313 E. 12th Street, Suite 220, Austin, TX 78701.
  2. Email your story of why you chose this special date to help@trtf.org (feel free to include a photo or short video). TRTF will share Donate Your Date stories on the TRTA Facebook page and app throughout the spring and until the campaign ends in June 2021.
  3. Attend our virtual bring-your-own-lunch/Donate Your Date fundraiser event on April 7, 2021 on Zoom! All persons who RSVP to TRTA’s Zoom to the Capitol event will receive the unique Zoom link in their email the week of March 29.

Thank you!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Be sure to download the TRTA app to receive all of the latest legislative updates.

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19 Mar
0

TRTA Provides a COLA Update Via Facebook Live and YouTube

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) heard from Executive Director Tim Lee today on Facebook Live and YouTube about a potential cost-of-living adjustment!

Now is the time to fight for a COLA! TRTA believes that the Legislature can pass a 6 percent COLA for retirees, capped at $100 per month. Legislation has been filed to move a COLA forward.

On Monday, TRTA will be sending out an Action Alert about this issue!

The following bills need as many cosponsors as possible to help pass a much-needed COLA:

  • SB 2092
  • HB 3214
  • HB 3206

TRTA members have spent years advocating for an improved funding policy on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) and legislators have responded. The door for a COLA is open! TRS has the financial ability to fund a COLA because the Texas Legislature followed through on promises made in 2019.

TRS retirees have not received a permanent annuity increase since 2013, and that COLA applied only to retirees who retired on or before August 31, 2004.

The annual payout for the COLA is less than one-third of what TRS pays out in external investment management fees and is about two-tenths of 1 percent of the value of investments and that amount decreases each year.

Help us pass COLA legislation by contacting your legislators! Ask them to be a co-sponsor on the bills listed above.

RSVP to Zoom to the Capitol Today!

For now, please be sure to RSVP by clicking this link. Your RSVP ensures you will receive the Zoom meeting links for all live TRTA events being hosted during the week of April 5 and any virtual advocacy materials you may need!

To RSVP, please log in using your TRTA Member ID number (found on the back of The VOICE) and password. For most users, your password is trta123 (all lowercase, no spaces). If you need assistance resetting your password, please contact the membership department at membership@trta.org or call 1.800.880.1650.

Thank You

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Be sure to download the TRTA app to receive all of the latest legislative updates.

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18 Mar
0

A COLA for TRS Retirees This Session is the Message

NOW is the time for TRS retirees to receive a much discussed, promised, and needed cost-of-living increase!

By Leroy DeHaven, TRTA President

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are elated to hear that our years hard work and sacrifice have finally paid off! The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension trust fund is fiscally stable. This has been our hard-fought mission. With a stable pension fund, the door is open for Texas to provide retirees with a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

As your TRTA State President, I believe there are two questions we must ask in this moment: Will the Legislature seize the day and pass legislation that provides a COLA; and how much of an increase can and will the Legislature authorize?

(Tim Lee will host a live video discussion about a COLA tomorrow, March 19, at 2:30 PM Central via Facebook and YouTube! Be sure to join us then!)

As retired education employees, we are grateful for the commitment the Legislature has shown to TRS. The major reason we have all partnered together and worked hard is to deliver on a promise: that TRS retirees are not forgotten and financial help—a COLA—will occur when the system is stable.

We believe that time has come! The TRS pension trust fund is actuarially sound. It has a funding period of less than 31 years. In fact, TRS officials have told us that the funding period is now 26 years based on the February 28 pension fund valuation!

That’s great news! Elected leaders have told us that once the pension fund could afford to provide a raise, it would be a major priority.

TRS retirees have not received a permanent annuity increase since 2013, and the COLA applied only to retirees who retired on or before August 31, 2004. If you’ve retired after that time, you’ve never received a permanent increase in your pension! That’s 17 years with no raise.

According to Texas statute, the Legislature may authorize a pension increase for TRS retirees if the trust fund has a funding period of less than 31 years and if that increase does not push the funding period beyond the 31-year mark. In other words, we can finance the increase. We cannot, however, pay for something if it is beyond our ability to finance it.

As a TRS retiree, I have personally dedicated my retirement years to being a champion for TRS to help my fellow retirees have a strong pension fund and get us all an increase in our modest benefits.

All of our work and the efforts by our elected officials and the dedication of our TRS investment professionals have finally paid off! We are at a place in time that has not occurred in Texas in more than 20 years! Today, the Legislature can authorize a pension increase for all eligible TRS retirees and the pension fund can afford to provide an increase with no cost to the Texas budget in a way that will NOT endanger the fund’s long-term actuarial soundness!

Decision-makers and TRS leaders need to hear this message loud and clear: as retirees who live on fixed incomes and are desperate for a financial boost, we measure all TRS policy against when retirees receive a pension increase!

More than 136,000 TRS retirees earn less than $1,000 per month in their annuities, while another 101,000 earn between $1,000 and $2,000. The monthly average among all retirees is just $2,118.

TRS is not coordinated with Social Security and 96 percent of Texas public school employees do not pay into the federal program. Most TRS retirees do not receive any Social Security income, including spousal or widower’s benefits, due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). TRS is all most retirees have!

TRTA is committed to helping our TRS retirees! The Legislature has done its homework. In fact, our Texas legislators have done their extra credit, too. They have championed TRS and our retired educators every session.

We’ve all looked forward to this day! Retirees need help. Let’s unite to achieve a COLA this session!

Thank you!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Be sure to download the TRTA app to receive all of the latest legislative updates.

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