Blog

11 Feb
0

New TRTATV Episode: Texas Primary Elections, Part Two

Early voting for the Texas primaries begins on February 16. For weeks, we’ve been reporting on the importance of these elections, and how your vote in them has a greater impact than in the general election!

Often, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) receives the question of which candidates we support. Unlike a Political Action Committee (PAC), TRTA does not endorse individual candidates. We encourage our members to investigate and vote for the candidates whom they believe will best represent their interests.

There are three general criteria we use to judge the quality of a candidate:

  1. Is this a friendly incumbent?
  2. Does the challenger support defined benefit plans?
  3. Do anti-public education groups support the incumbent?

A friendly incumbent is the easiest of these three criteria to determine. Has your Senator or Representative been supportive of TRTA-friendly bills? Have they advocated for a cost-of-living increase? Or have they opposed legislation that would extend benefits to public education retirees? If you are able to answer these questions, it will be easy to determine whether you should be voting for your incumbent candidate.

It is quite common for a newly elected state representative or senator to be unaware of the defined benefit versus defined contribution discussion. Certainly, TRTA takes measures to inform all officials about the strengths of our defined benefit plans, but having a candidate who is informed when they come into office can be a major boon to our lobbying efforts. Be sure to know whether the challengers in your area are knowledgeable and supportive of defined benefit plans.

Anti-public education groups come in many different forms. For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on groups seeking to uproot our defined benefit plans. Groups such as the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have consistently lobbied against defined benefit plans such as TRS. If the candidate you are considering is backed by one of these organizations, you should question whether the candidate really has your best interests in mind.

One of the best places to learn more about your candidates is to visit your local unit. Often, TRTA local units will schedule meetings that include Q&A’s, forums and meet-and-greets with potential candidates. These meetings are a great opportunity for you to meet the candidates who might represent you in the Texas Legislature.

If you are unable to make it to a local unit meeting or if you would like to continue your work online, we recommend the following resources:

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

If there are additional resources that you have found helpful and you think TRTA should share them with its members, please contact us!

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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04 Feb
0

New TRTATV Episode: Primaries Upcoming

Texas primary elections are right around the corner. If you’ve been following the Inside Line, you know just how important these elections are to the well-being of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).

If historical trends hold, only about eight races will be contested by the time the Texas general election rolls around in November. Due to low voter turnout, your voice will be amplified during the primary election season.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is only as strong as its membership allows it to be. We need you to research candidates in your area and find out which ones are pro-public education and pro-defined benefit plan. Similarly, you can further extend your influence on the election by encouraging your fellow retired educators to vote, as well as your family members.

In particular, the spotlight is shining hard on the 2016 election cycle. Josh McGee, an outspoken opponent of defined benefit plans and Vice-President of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, has been assigned to the Pension Review Board (PRB).

The Pension Review Board plays a pivotal role in determining the future of your retirement fund. The PRB is tasked with making recommendations to the Texas Legislature about the financial soundness of TRS. The Pension Review Board’s next meeting is Feb. 11 at 10 AM.

In order to ensure the safety of the TRS fund, we must elect legislators who are friendly to our cause. TRTA members have a strong history of voting the November general election, but we must focus on taking control of our future by voting in the primary elections. Early voting runs from Feb. 16 to Feb. 26, and the primary election day is March 1.

Windfall Elimination Provision Update

The Windfall Elimination Provision is an outdated and unfair formula that punishes a significant portion of TRTA members. Kevin Brady introduced a bill to Congress in early 2015 that would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision. Brady is the chairman for the Ways and Means Committee, wherein HR 711 currently resides.

In order to gain traction with this bill, it needs more Congressional co-sponsors. If you haven’t already, we highly encourage you to find out whether your Congressman is co-sponsoring this bill and contact them. Additionally, now is a great time to show your support for Brady.

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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26 Jan
0

TRTA Voter Health Series Recap

Last week, the Texas Retired Teachers Association shared its “Good Voter Health” series. The series covered a variety of topics concerning election activity during the upcoming Texas primaries. As we head into the primary election season, it is important for our members to be informed and active.

Day 1: Are You Registered to Vote?

Day 2: The Importance of Primary Elections and Who Is Running for Office in Your Area

Day 3: I’ve Researched the Candidates. Is My Work as a Voter Done?

Day 4: Helping Others Get Involved in the Political Process

Day 5: Closely Watched Primary Races

Most political races in Texas are determined DURING THE PRIMARY ELECTION, not the November General Election! While it is important to vote in ALL elections, many voters do not make it to the polls for the Primary Election.

Last week, TRTA stressed the importance of scheduling a time to participate in early voting. Remember, because so few people vote in the primary election, EVERY VOTE COUNTS EXPONENTIALLY. Your vote WILL make a difference!

Please keep this in mind: this is NOT a marathon, it’s a sprint! The starting gun has sounded. We must act NOW. We have only until March 1 to make sure that we protect the interests of our members in the Texas Legislature.

Important highlights from last week include:

1) Be sure you, your family members, friends and fellow retirees are registered to vote! Check the Texas Secretary of State website to determine your voter registration status.

2) Determine who your candidates are! Check Ballotpedia for all open races:

3) Do this IMPORTANT TASK: Ask your candidates three vital questions about TRS:

  • Do you support a defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees?
  • Do you support providing reasonable, affordable healthcare for TRS retirees?
  • What will you do as my legislator to ensure that the TRS pension fund and TRS–Care health insurance program are preserved and improved?

4) Consider other ways you can get involved in the political process and support your candidate of choice. Call your candidate’s campaign office and see how you can help! If your candidate wins, they will absolutely remember your help when the Legislature convenes.

5) Share information with your fellow retirees about what you have learned from your candidates. Do they support sustaining the TRS defined benefit plan? Let TRTA know and let your friends know as well! If you have not connected with a candidate, CONNECT WITH YOUR FELLOW TRTA MEMBERS IN A LOCAL UNIT AND ASK THEM WHO THEY ARE VOTING FOR AND WHY! TRTA local unit information can be found here.

6) Above all, VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION. Don’t wait until March 1 to vote. Schedule a day between February 16 and 26 to VOTE EARLY. Remember, when you vote early, you do NOT have to vote in your precinct. You may vote at any location convenient for you within your county. Review early voting locations in your area by clicking here.

Thank You!

Remember, if the district where you live is predominantly Republican, you may vote in the Republican Primary and still vote as a Democrat in November. Likewise, if you live in a predominantly Democratic district, you may vote in the Democratic Primary and still vote as a Republican in November. If you do not want your Voter Registration Card stamped with a party label, simply present your Texas Driver’s License or a valid government photo ID.

Please know that if you vote in a Primary Election for one party and a run-off election for that position occurs, you can vote only in the run-off of the SAME PARTY for which you voted in the Primary. However, you may vote for any candidate you wish in the General Election.

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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