Blog

12 Nov
0

Legislative Action Takes Center Stage

Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) members are already hard at work preparing for legislative session. Reports from all over the state are arriving in our office about TRTA members organizing and meeting with legislators before the start of the legislative session.

As I have said to many of the TRTA members and active educators I have met with over the last few months, NOW is the time to get your legislator’s attention while they are still at home and are able to meet with their constituents.

Think of legislative session as the fourth quarter and time is running out. The start of legislative session should not be the start of our legislative outreach, now is the best time to score points.

Lobbyists and special interests will bombard legislators from the first day of session to the last. Believe me, legislators are FAR MORE INTERESTED IN MEETING WITH YOU IN THEIR HOME DISTRICT THAN THE LOBBYISTS IN AUSTIN!

The power in our membership is vast; let’s organize and use it in the last few weeks before session. Meeting with your legislators will ensure they come to Austin prepared to work on solving the TRS-Care crisis.

We need their help. We need our health care program funded. We need to know legislators are protecting our defined benefit plans.

We want to help you increase your voice. TRTA is already in the final stages of producing the fourth quarter issue of The Voice news bulletin. We are preparing a special section for you to take action. It includes vital facts about the TRS-Care program, and also provides a section for you to write a message to your legislators.

We will gather hand-deliver these personal messages to every legislator in Austin!! If our members are willing to use that special section, it will create a tidal wave of letters sending a powerful message to legislators as they start the 84th Legislative Session.

TRTA is ready to work every minute of every hour of every day of every month of this legislative session for you!

Help us make the most of the coming opportunities by preparing your fellow TRTA members and your legislators for the days of work, opportunity and victory on our vital legislative agenda.

TRTA and TRTF Celebrate 10 Years at the Trinity Office Center

November 12 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Trinity Office Center’s grand opening! The Trinity Office Center, which serves as the home of the TRTA’s state office, has been a valuable, lasting reminder of TRTA’s incredible leadership and membership.

In November 1987, TRTA President Enid Littlefield assigned 14 individuals to establish the Texas Retired Teachers Building Fund Trust. The trust was officially established in January 1988, and raised $750,000 through annual “Walks to the Wall.”

The trust’s fundraising responsibilities were transferred to the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) in 2000. The ribbon cutting ceremony in 2004 for the grand opening of the Trinity Office Center celebrated 16 years of hard work and fundraising on the parts of TRTA and TRTF.

The Trinity Office Center stands approximately 200 feet east of the Texas State Capitol and is fully tenanted, with medical offices filling the entire third floor. It serves as an access point into the state Legislature, as well as a training ground for TRTA members to fight for retirement benefits.

The month of November is TRTF’s Foundation Month. Now is the time to continue the tradition of giving. Without donations, TRTF would have never been able to purchase the property on which the Trinity Office Center now stands. Similarly, without continued donations, TRTF will not be able to provide programs such as “A Helping Hand” or Classroom Assistance Grants.

If you would like to know more about making special donations to the TRTF or if you are in need of help from one of our Foundation programs, please contact our office and we will be happy to help.

You may donate online here, or over the phone by calling 1.800.880.1650 (ask for Dawn or Shala).

Your donations go towards supporting educators of the past, present and future!

Please watch and share the following video, wherein the significance of the Trinity building is recounted.

All Foundation videos can also be found here.

If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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05 Nov
0

Texas Election Recap, Time to Get Ready for the 84th Legislative Session!

Yesterday was Election Day in Texas. Texans elected a new Governor and a new Lieutenant Governor, as well as multiple new State Senators and Representatives and other elected officials. (For a complete list of election results, please visit this link).

Legislators who have served before and those who have just been elected for the first time are now shifting from campaign mode into policy mode. What this means for our members is that there is no time to waste to get our issues front and center!

The 84th Legislative Session is less than two months away! Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are not sitting still. In fact, our members are ready to start protecting their benefits and getting the word out that their health care and pensions should be top priorities in 2015!

As you may have read in previous issues of The VOICEand the Inside Line, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is facing a huge funding shortfall. This shortfall has been projected to be as high as $1 billion by the end of the 2016-17 biennium, and has fluctuated to a low of $750 million. Legislators must work in 2015 to resolve this issue as they plan budgets for all state agencies for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Retirees should not be subject to this financial uncertainty! The shortfall, regardless of its size, is a significant hurdle that MUST BE OVERCOME. If nothing is done during the next session to protect TRS-Care from this shortfall, premiums could DOUBLE.

With only one permanent cost-of-living increase passed since 2001, retirees have carefully budgeted their finances to include access to this affordable program. TRTA does not know of any public education retiree in Texas who can afford to pay twice as much for their health care.

Now is the time for our members, their fellow retirees and pre-retirees to get active! Here are a few things that you can do now to start protecting the TRS-Care health insurance program and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund!

Watch TRTA TV
Find TRTA TV on YouTube and watch our informative videos, including legislative training features! This brand new way to receive information from TRTA about your pension and other retirement benefits provides quick, accessible updates! We will be using videos throughout legislative session to inform you about pending bills and votes and to let you know how you can help.

Here is a brief but helpful tutorial, which shows you how to sign up for Tim Lee’s email newsletter, the Inside Line. Make sure you stay informed by receiving these regular updates. We use the Inside Line for our email action alert campaigns, which helps us contact legislators when urgent matters—such as a bill going up for a vote—happen!

The video also shows you how to read The VOICEonline and where to find legislative fact sheets, as well as how to find out who your legislators are and their contact information. Share this video with your fellow retirees!

Attend your local unit meetings!
Are you a member of one of TRTA’s 259 local units? Be sure to attend your fall meetings! Legislative Chairmen across the state are preparing for the upcoming legislative session and are looking for volunteers who want to get involved. Join a contact team, and be your local unit’s go-to person when your legislator needs the facts from a trusted source.

If you are not a member of a local unit, consider joining one! There is a TRTA local unit near you! Visit our website and hover over the tab TRTA Near You to learn more.

Local units provide members with a front row seat to the action. Legislators and candidates for political office often attend local unit meetings. Speakers, such as TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee, come to meetings to provide members with updated information about TRS-Care and pension issues. Not only can you experience fellowship, but also you can get involved with any of a variety of committees, from legislative to public relations to health care.

Share Your Story!
TRTA is still in need of personal anecdotes from our members who use the TRS-Care health insurance program. We know that protecting the program from a $750 million shortfall will be a top priority for TRTA in 2015, but starting to share this message with legislators in January is too late!

Let’s get the word out NOW that TRS-Care is vital to our livelihood and that retirees should not shoulder the entire burden of the financial crisis!

Share your story by sending an email to us at info@trta.org, subject line My TRS-Care Story. We want to know the following from you:

  1. How would losing your TRS-Care health insurance impact you?
  2. How would you be impacted if your premiums increased by up to 135%?
  3. Why is TRS-Care important to you?

Be sure to include your name and address so that we can ensure your legislator hears it from you!

Contact Your Legislators!
Consider sharing your TRS-Care story with your legislators as well!
First determine who your legislators are by clicking on this link and submitting your information.

A list of your elected officials will appear. Look for your Texas State Senator and Texas State Representative. Their phone numbers and addresses will be listed.

If you prefer to email your legislators, use the following standard email format and input their names:

Texas Senators:
firstname.lastname@senate.state.tx.us

Texas Representatives:
firstname.lastname@house.state.tx.us

Remember, legislators need to know why TRS-Care is a priority to you and why it should be a priority for them in the 84th Legislative Session. They need to hear from as many retirees as possible!

Without legislative action, TRS-Care premiums will double! A solution must be found and NOW. We need every member of TRTA involved in making sure TRS-Care is not ignored in 2015!

Will you commit to contacting your legislator today?

Thank You!
Thank you for being a member of TRTA. If you are not a member and would like to join, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

Share this article with every retiree you know, as well as with active school personnel! Your input is important. Your membership and support are crucial. Thank you for all your help and support.

Contact us at info@trta.org with your questions, thoughts, or concerns. Follow us on Facebook and visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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03 Nov
0

Texas Retired Teachers Foundation: Building a Brighter Future

Support the Foundation by viewing and sharing their fifth video!

The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) donated $6,500 to Restore West ISD, a project dedicated to rebuilding the schools of West, Texas, which were destroyed in a fertilizer plant explosion in April, 2013. You can help continue TRTF’s a charitable works by sharing this video and donating online at www.trtf.org
The West Independent School District held a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 30 to celebrate the construction of a new high school and middle school campuses. The ceremony was part of the Restore West ISD project, to which the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) donated $6,500.

West ISD is still recovering from the effects of a catastrophic fertilizer plant explosion that occurred April 17, 2013. The explosion destroyed three of West ISD’s 4 school campuses and left deep emotional wounds throughout the rural town’s community.

Jan Hungate, West ISD’s superintendent, spoke during the ceremony about how the groundbreaking marked the second coming of West High School.

“We are thrilled beyond words that we are right here having a new beginning,” said Hungate.

The ceremony featured a performance from the school band, as well as speeches from the high school class presidents. The student speeches expressed a desire to return to normalcy, and a fervent anticipation of the new high school.

“It was very important to me that this day be all about the students,” said Hungate.

TRTF’s Foundation Month runs throughout the month of November. We hope to raise $100,000 this year to fund charitable causes such as the “Helping Hand” program. Please donate today.

Please consider mailing in your tax-deductible donation using the donation card found on the last page of The VOICE. You may also donate online here, or over the phone by calling 1.800.880.1650.

Show your support for our vital charitable programs by sharing our videos now and throughout the month November! To watch the fourth update, please click the video below.

All Foundation videos can also be found here.

Thank You
Thank you for being a member of TRTA and for supporting the Foundation’s charitable endeavors. The Foundation’s very existence is dependent upon YOU. If 2,000 TRTA members donate $50 each, we can raise $100,000!

If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our Youtube Channel for regular video updates, including our month-long series of Foundation videos!

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