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28 Mar
0

Houston WEP Rally and TRS-Care Hearing This Week

Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) is hosting a media event tomorrow to promote the progress on The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (HR 711). HR 711 is a bill that proposes to replace the current Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) with a newer, fairer formula.

The WEP rally will take place Tuesday, March 29 at 10:00 a.m. at the HFD Fire Station #84. The location address is 320 Gears Rd. Houston, Texas, 77067 (near Greens Rd. and 45). Parking is available on the street.

Congressman Brady’s office is encouraging Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) members from the greater Houston-area to attend this event. This is a great opportunity to draw media exposure to the issues surrounding the WEP, which unfairly penalizes public educators for their years of work in the classrooms. To learn more about the WEP and HR 711 visit this page.

Please RSVP for TRS-Care Hearing​

TRTA is preparing for an important meeting this week about the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. As you may have read in the Inside Line, the hearing will be held this Wednesday, March 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Texas Capitol in room E1.028.

March 30 will be the first of several meetings of the TRS-Care study group. We are encouraging TRTA members to attend this meeting, as well as all others.

If you plan to attend the hearing this Wednesday, please RSVP at info@trta.org no later than 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 29. TRTA will reserve a room and will provide lunch to those attending the hearing. We will congregate in room E2.002A between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Lunch will be served at noon.

Additionally, the House Pensions Committee and the Senate Committee on Finance are meeting. The House Pensions Committee is meeting at 10:00 a.m. in room E2.028. The Senate Committee on Finance is meeting at 9:30 a.m. in room E1.036. Members who arrive early for the TRS-Care Study Group meeting are also welcome to attend these meetings.

Representative Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio) will also join us before the TRS-Care hearing begins to share a few words.

TRTA is offering a $35 stipend to TRTA members who carpool together. Parking is available in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 12th and San Jacinto streets. More information will be made available the day of the hearing in room E2.002A.

Please note that both the hearing and the meeting room for TRTA are in the Texas Capitol building in the extension. Please review the Capitol Building Guide to help you in locating these rooms.

More than 240,000 retired educators rely upon the system for their health insurance. However, TRS-Care is facing a continuing funding crisis. By 2017, TRS-Care could see a funding shortfall of $1.5 billion. If nothing is done, retirees under the health insurance program could see their premiums skyrocket.

Last year, TRTA successfully persuaded the Texas Legislature to put $768 million into TRS-Care. Your efforts and membership helped make a difference! This funding provided a stopgap to prevent premium increases and benefit reductions for retirees. Nonetheless, Texas legislators were well aware the $768 million did not solve the funding issue for TRS-Care.

TRS-Care’s funding is tied to active teacher payroll. Health care costs are increasing at a much greater rate than teacher payroll, so as these costs grow, the amount of funding in the health insurance program has fallen behind.

Acknowledging that the issue of TRS-Care would require greater effort to solve, the Legislature created a study group to analyze and discuss various options surrounding the program.

The legislative members named to this group are: Senators Joan Huffman (R-Houston) – Co-Chair, Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), and Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls); and Representatives Dan Flynn (R-Canton) – Co-Chair, Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), and Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio).

Thank You

TRTA and its members have the respect of both congressmen and legislators. Your membership is making a difference as we lobby here in Texas and at the U.S. Capitol. We will continue to bring you the latest updates on all issues involving retired educators.

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

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24 Mar
0

New TRTATV Episode: ‪HR 711 Update and TRS-Care Meeting Upcoming

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) lobbying efforts are being felt at both a state and national level. On Tuesday, Tim Lee, TRTA’s Executive Director, and Ronnie Jung, TRTA’s Pensions Consultant, attended the U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee hearing on The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (HR 711).

HR 711 proposes to repeal the current Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a newer, fairer formula. Lee testified about the importance of changing the Windfall Elimination Provision, which deprives millions of retired educators, firefighters, police officers and other public workers of their Social Security earnings.

Lee believes that the need to pass HR 711 is an urgent matter. He would like to see Congress accomplish that goal before the end of 2016. To learn more about the meeting read our full recap here. If you would like to know how to get involved, click here.

TRS-Care Meeting Upcoming and TRTA Room Announced

TRS-Care is a health insurance program provided by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). More than 240,000 retired educators rely upon the system for their health insurance. However, TRS-Care is facing a continuing funding crisis. By 2017, TRS-Care could see a funding shortfall of $1.5 billion. If nothing is done, retirees under the health insurance program could see their premiums skyrocket.

March 30 is the first meeting of the TRS-Care study group. We are encouraging TRTA members to attend. The meeting will take place in E1.028. To RSVP, please email us at info@trta.org. We will have a room and will be providing lunch to those attending the meeting. Our room number is E2.002A, and it will be open from 11AM to 3:30PM.

TRTA is offering a $35 stipend to TRTA members who carpool together. Parking is available in the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 12th and San Jacinto streets.

Last year, TRTA successfully persuaded the Texas Legislature to put $768 million into TRS-Care. Your efforts and membership helped make a difference! This funding provided a stopgap to prevent premium increases and benefit reductions for retirees. Nonetheless, Texas legislators were well aware the $768 million did not solve the funding issue for TRS-Care.

TRS-Care’s funding is tied to active teacher payroll. Health care costs are increasing at a much greater rate than teacher payroll, so as these costs grow, the amount of funding in the health insurance program has fallen behind.

Acknowledging that the issue of TRS-Care would require greater effort to solve, the Legislature created a study group to analyze and discuss various options surrounding the program.

The legislative members named to this group are: Senators Joan Huffman (R-Houston) – Co-Chair, Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), and Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls); and Representatives Dan Flynn (R-Canton) – Co-Chair, Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), and Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio).

Thank You

TRTA and its members have the respect of both congressmen and legislators. Your membership is making a difference as we lobby here in Texas and at the U.S. Capitol. We will continue to bring you the latest updates on all issues involving retired educators.

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

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22 Mar
0

Ways and Means Committee Members Discuss Future of WEP

The U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee discussed propositions to alter a Social Security provision known as the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) today. The WEP is an unfair formula that was enacted 1983. It prevents public workers such as educators, firefighters and police officers who pay into state pension plans from receiving their entire sum of Social Security earnings.

For many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), the WEP has long stood as a barrier to receiving the retirement benefits that they earned through working in other professions that paid into Social Security.

The Ways and Means Committee meeting represented a positive first step towards resolving this long-time inequity. The committee heard testimony from five panelists, including TRTA’s Executive Director Tim Lee, about the history of the WEP, and how Rep. Kevin Brady’s (R-The Woodlands) proposed Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (HR 711) would help restore balance and security to millions of retired workers’ lives.

Congressman Brady began the meeting by expounding on the unfairness of the current, outdated Social Security formula, and explained how his proposed bill would provide fairness to the public workers.

“The (WEP’s) one size fits all approach is unfair,” Brady said. “Our solution takes into account all earnings.”

Social Security’s Chief Actuary, Stephen Goss, was among the witnesses in the meeting. Goss reported that if HR 711 were enacted immediately, 84 percent of retirees impacted by the WEP would receive an additional $77 per month in Social Security benefits.

“The current proposal (HR 711)… would be a more appropriate approach,” Goss concluded.

Tim Lee’s testimony included an appeal to the concern about the future of teaching. Lee stated that without fair and satisfactory compensation packages, many potential teachers would avoid the profession.

Rep. Kevin Kelly of Pennsylvania concurred with Lee’s assessment, and recounted his daughter’s path towards becoming a teacher. His story highlighted her hesitance about the teaching profession due to compensation concerns.

The committee members also discussed a proposal in President Obama’s budget that would mirror very similarly Brady’s proposed bill. However unlike HR 711, Obama’s proposal would take 10 years before going into effect.

Tim Lee urged the committee to consider Brady’s proposal, as the need for many retirees to receive the Social Security benefits is immediate.

Jason Fichtner, a senior research fellow at George Mason University, followed Lee’s statement by saying “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Thank You

Every day TRTA is fighting for its members in both Texas and on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Your membership enables us to fight the good fight. You can learn more about the WEP and how you can get involved here. To read more about the meeting, visit the Ways and Means Committee’s website.

If you haven’t already, be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to us on Youtube.

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