10 Oct

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching, New Fact Sheet to Share with Candidates!

(Editor’s note: Last week this Inside Line was delivered with a fact sheet that featured the incorrect use of a term. This fact sheet has been corrected, and you may download it below.)

As the November General Election draws nearer, members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are making plans now to get to the polls!

If you are not yet registered to vote, please know that the last day to register to vote in Texas is Tuesday, October 11. Register today by clicking here!

If you are not sure if you are registered or want to verify that your voting information is correct (such as your address), please click here! The Texas Secretary of State websiteis a great resource for locating your polling place, as well as early voting locations.

Though many elections in Texas are decided during the Primary Election season, there are still several important races in November that will determine who our state legislators will be.

Click here to find Texas State Senate races.

Click here to find Texas State House of Representatives races.

TRTA is proud to partner with Texas Educators Vote, and we encourage all retired and active educators to take the oath to vote! Elections determine policy outcomes! They are the biggest factor in determining what happens during the Texas Legislative Session.

The Senators and Representatives who are elected during this cycle will have the enormous responsibility of deciding the future of TRS-Care. If nothing is done during the next Legislative Session to TRS-Care, participants in the program could see massive premium increases or changes in benefits, or both!

We must elect officials who see the value in not only the TRS defined benefit plan, but our other valuable retirement benefits as well!


We need your help NOW to educate candidates on TRTA’s most pressing issues for the coming session. Take some time now to visit your legislators in their district offices and contact any candidates to share this TRTA Fact Sheet with them.

To find out who your current legislators are and to receive their contact information, click here!

TRTA encourages its members to talk to each other! Local unit leaders, activate your phone trees and remind your members about early voting schedules. Early voting begins Monday, October 24, 2016 and continues through Friday, November 4, 2016.Vote early to avoid those long lines that come with the territory during a presidential election cycle!

Check with members who you think may need a ride to the polling location and offer to start a carpool on an early voting day!

Still not sure who to vote for? We recommend the following resources to help you conduct research on candidates:

Teach the Vote
Texas Educators Vote
Texas Teachers Vote
Texas Parent PAC
Texas League of Women Voters
Texas Tribune

Thank You

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

Protecting your retirement benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all the difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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30 Sep

New TRTATV Episode: Speaker Series – Brock Gregg

Brock Gregg joined the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) as the Administrative Coordinator in April. Previously, he has worked with the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE).

He joined TRTA’s Government Relations Hope Osborn on TRTATV to discuss the issues active educators are facing as the 85th Texas Legislature approaches. Retirees and actives share a mutual interest in continuing the good work of public education, as they both pay into and are serviced by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).

According to Gregg, the three primary issues actives will lobby on during the legislative session are school funding, the STAAR test and the privatization of public schools.

School districts began filing lawsuits against the state of Texas in the 1980s in an attempt to generate increased public school funding. Many of these lawsuits have resulted in an increase, however the latest verdict ruled in favor of the state. The Supreme Court issued its ruling in May, which upheld the state’s funding system as constitutional.

However, school funding, or lack thereof, will continue to be a headline issue for active educator associations heading into the legislative session. Much of the schools’ desire for increased funding comes from the 2011 legislative session, wherein the Legislature cut public school funding by $5.4 billion.

The most recent lawsuit was filed on behalf of 600 school districts.

The STAAR test is the state standardized testing program. The test has been much maligned for many years, and it featured another rocky season of results in 2015-16. The test had its contact picked up by a new vendor, Educational Testing Service (ETS), and the company had a difficult time organizing the procedure.

Tests were misdelivered, answers were lost and the scores were delayed by weeks.

However, the confusion surrounding the testing process is just a part of the issue. The state uses the results of the STAAR test to rate school districts.

For some school districts, consistently low scores can result in closure. Additionally, many schools and teachers feel the test is not in the best interest of the students.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a driving force behind school choice. School choice represents the process through which the state provides funding to send students to private schools. Gregg describes the privatization of schools to become “corporate profit centers” as “wrong-headed.”

Patrick again plans to make school choice a priority in the 2017 legislative session. During the 2015 session, Patrick’s legislation proposed to provide $100 million in tax credits to businesses that would provide scholarships to public school students to send them to private schools.

Gregg hopes that parents can help “put that to rest.”

“Public education is for the public, for our students. It is a foundation of our democracy,” Gregg said.

Gregg also addressed the TRS-Care Care issue for active educators. TRS-Active Care is the health care program provided by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas to active educators. Like its retiree counterpart, Active Care is being hit hard by skyrocketing health care costs. According to a 2014 study on Active-Care, premiums for the program have increased by 267 percent since it was first created in 2002. The plan covers close to 350,000 members.

In order to have a successful 85th legislative session, Greg says active educators and retirees must work together.

“Send a unified message that education need help. Educators should be respected. And that all of us working together are going to get the pension system and health care systems that we deserve,” Gregg said.

Thank You

We look forward to providing you with more episodes of TRTATV! Upcoming editions will include analysis of the Defined Benefit pension plan and interviews with legislators and staff member.

If you have any topics you would like to see discussed, please mention them in the comments. Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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27 Sep

Notice: Texas Retired Teachers Foundation Donation Request Error

Recently, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF)—the charitable arm of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA)—mailed out a special request for donations to its generous donors as part of their annual appeal to raise funds for several valuable programs.

Thousands of members of TRTA are dedicated to the causes supported by TRTF, such as the retiree assistance program “A Helping Hand,” classroom assistance grants for Texas public school teachers, and the newly established Beginning Teacher Scholarship program for recent college graduates who are about to begin their careers in education.

Unfortunately, an error was made when the special request for donations was mailed, due to a mistake in sorting by the print company utilized by TRTF.

TRTF wishes to apologize sincerely for this error, and let our donors know that the print company is reprinting and resending the donation request immediately at no cost to the Foundation. If you have received a donation request from TRTF and your enclosed donor card has the wrong name and address printed in the donor section, please discard the incorrect card and wait for the corrected version to arrive in your mailbox within the next week.

As many of our members know, TRTF was established in 1988 as a trust to raise funds to build TRTA’s home office building in downtown Austin, just steps from the east door of the Capitol. After successfully accomplishing this goal, TRTF began supporting charitable programs to benefit educators of the past, present and future.

In addition to the programs mentioned above, TRTF also supports the Legacy Campaign, which promotes a positive image of public education and our hardworking educators in Texas through videos and fact sheets. The campaign also promotes the strength and reliability of the defined benefit plan and Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund, which provides retirement security for more than 375,000 public education retirees and nearly 1,000,000 pre-retirees!

This year, TRTF also launched the Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund in honor of two of TRTA’s and TRTF’s most notable volunteers, Mike Lehr and Tom Pritchard. The endowment fund, being established in celebration of the 25th year of the passage of the CPI Catch-Up plan, will raise interest from donated funds to support “A Helping Hand” indefinitely.

You can view a video about the fund, its purpose, and goals by clicking here. The video features TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee, TRTF Trustee and TRTA Retirement Consultant Ronnie Jung, and TRTF Board President Jamie Larson explaining the inspiration behind this landmark initiative.

As always, TRTF appreciates your genuine support of its charitable efforts. Because of you and your fellow retirees, TRTF has been able to provide over $244,000 in assistance to educators of the past, present and future, including $93,000 for retirees experiencing critical financial emergencies.

All members of TRTA will receive TRTA’s annual appeal letter in the third quarter issue of The VOICE, which should be in members’ mailboxes by mid-October. Please consider making a donation at that time using the enclosed envelope, or donate online today to any of our amazing programs!

If you would like to learn more about our programs, please click on the following links: “A Helping Hand,” the Lehr-Pritchard Endowment Fund, Classroom Assistance Grants, Beginning Teacher Scholarships, and the Legacy Campaign.

To download the newly released Beginning Teacher Scholarship application, click here!

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We appreciate all that you do to help TRTF impact the future every day! Since 2008, you have helped 93 retirees get back on their feet, 10 residents of West recover from a devastating disaster, 97 teachers implement projects benefitting their students, and 106 future educators pursue their passion.

If you are not yet a member, please join TRTA today!

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

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