Blog

09 Jan
0

TRTA Legislative Roundtable Half-hour Special

In preparation for the 2015 Texas Legislature, we gathered the most knowledgeable legislative minds within the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) to discuss TRTA’s goals. The following conversation is an extensive look into the issues surrounding TRS-Care. The 84th Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 13 at noon.

The video is a half-hour long, so if you would like to skip to any part of the video please select the links below. Also, please be sure to share this with your fellow retired educators!

Roundtable Video Links TRTA Links
Introduction Sign Up for TRTA
TRTA Legislative Goals TRS-Care Sustainability Study
TRS-Care Overview TRS-Care Fact Sheet
TRS-Care Explained Subscribe to Inside Line
Member Reaction 2014 4th Quarter The Voice Letter 
Member Contribution
Final Thoughts

The video interview features TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee, TRTA Retirement Consultant Ronnie Jung, and TRTA Legislative Coordinator Bill Barnes.

During the interview, Tim Lee stressed the need for the Texas Legislature to address the TRS-Care funding shortfall.

“We have to protect our defined benefit plan. We have to protect what we’ve already achieved in previous sessions, and work with the Legislature (to) come up with a real solution for the health insurance program,” Lee said.

The real solution Lee referred to will extend beyond the supplemental funding necessary to keep TRS-Care going, according to Ronnie Jung. Jung explained the core issue surrounding TRS-Care funding is the structure on which the health care system is built.

“The problem we have is that the funding structure, which is a percentage of payroll, is not tied to the fact that we have more retirees and more health care costs,” Jung said.

Bill Barnes discussed his experiences in talking with TRTA members about the impending budget shortfall, and how an increase in medical premiums would have a negative impact on the lives of those dependent on TRS-Care. Barnes, who was encouraged by the 2013 Legislature passing a cost-of-living increase for retired teachers, said while retirees may not have control over prescription drug costs, it is possible to make an impact on TRS-Care by contacting legislators.

Tim Lee echoed this sentiment and encouraged all viewers to complete the letter in the latest edition The VOICE. You can download and print a copy of the letter here.

Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on bills concerning TRS-Care and the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund.

Thank You!

Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA).

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.

Read More
22 Dec
0

Season’s Greetings from the Texas Retired Teachers Association!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) wishes all of our members and friends a very happy, healthy holiday season! We are so grateful to have your support, positive action and enthusiasm as we move forward into what is sure to be an exciting, productive year.

While we must face many challenges, particularly as we address the TRS-Care retiree health insurance funding crisis, together we are doubtlessly strong and we WILL make a difference in the 84th Legislative Session!

We believe in our members and TRTA’s purpose of creating an organized and powerful voice for all public education retirees and all pre-retirees (aka, our active school employee friends)!

TRTA members are the most vocal, passionate members in the state. Our members dedicated their lives to education and to Texas schoolchildren, and deserve to reap the benefits of their hard work.

TRTA’s core belief is in the legacy of public education. TRTA was founded in support of public education and for those serving in this most worthwhile of professions. Our educators deserve the benefits they have paid into and earned during their careers. We will always work to protect and improve the retirement benefits of all current and future public education retirees in Texas!

Without any hesitation or doubt, we believe in the defined benefit plan that promises you a monthly annuity for life! This is a core value of TRTA, and our support of lifetime retirement security for all public education employees will never waiver.

We believe access to affordable health care is vital to your retirement security! We support the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program and will work to ensure it is funded properly so that your health care benefits are never in question during your retirement.

We believe in protecting the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and TRS-Care, so that our active educators may also receive what they have earned!

You have accomplished great things this year. While it was not a legislative year, you have not been idle! Preparation is key in addressing the tough issues we will face in 2015. You have sent hundreds of letters to your Texas Senators and Representatives voicing your concerns about TRS-Care! You have made numerous visits to your elected officials in your home districts. You made it to the polls, often early, to cast your vote for the candidates that will best represent your interests.

As we take some time to enjoy our families and friends over the holidays, let us become energized and ready to work with our legislators in 2015! The 84th Legislative Session begins Tuesday, January 13, 2015.

If you have not sent in your letter to TRTA sharing your own TRS-Care story, you can still do so! Look in your 4th quarter issue of The VOICE that arrived in your mailbox this month and send page 3 to TRTA at 313 E. 12th Street, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78701.

If you have misplaced your news bulletin or would like to download another letter, you may do so here.

Thank You!
Thank you for your membership to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), and thank you for your support of the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation’s (TRTF) charitable endeavors. Our very existence is dependent upon YOU!

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.

Read More
18 Dec
0

The Latest TRTA News: Social Security Update, TRS-Care Letters Pouring In

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) attended a press conference this week hosted by Congressman Kevin Brady in the Houston area. As you may have read in a recent Inside Line article, Representative Brady recently introduced H.R. 5697, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act.
The bill, if passed, would repeal the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), and replace it with a more fair formula helping those who have been impacted by the WEP and those who will be in the future.

On Monday, December 16, Congressman Brady spoke about the bill’s potential effects while retired school personnel and other retired public servants discussed how the WEP has impacted them.
“Since 1983, it’s treated these workers, I believe, unfairly. It’s costly. I think it’s wrong, and it’s time that it be changed,” said Brady.

H.R. 5697, if passed, would:

 

  • Permanently repeal the current Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a new and fair formula that treats public servants like the rest of American workers.
  • Guarantee public servants receive the benefits they earned while they paid into Social Security.
  • Reduce the WEP by up to a third for current retirees, and up to half for future retirees – increasing lifetime Social Security benefits by between $20,000 and $32,400 (as estimated by the Social Security actuary).
  • Not impact the Social Security trust fund.

What does this mean for retired educators in Texas? If H.R. 5697 passes, your Social Security amount will no longer be figured by the arbitrary WEP formula established in 1983, but will be based on your real-life Social Security contributions and work history — just like everyone else.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, a committee on which Representative Brady serves.

After review by the Committee, the bill would need to be brought to the House of Representatives for a vote, then if passed, would need to be presented to the Senate for a vote as well. If the bill passed both Houses of Congress, it would then be sent to the President to be signed and become law.

We are still in the very early stages of the bill’s progress. While the news is good, there is much work to be done to get H.R. 5697 passed! TRTA will launch an email advocacy campaign on this issue with our Texas Congressional Delegation in the weeks to come.

For now, TRTA members can spread the word to their fellow retirees and their friends in the active school community that we have not given up on the idea of fairness for our members and their Social Security earnings. We are gearing up to pass a bill that puts more money back into your pockets!

WEP Repeal Fact Sheet

Send in Your TRS-Care Letter!

Hundreds of members of TRTA have used the fourth quarter issue of The VOICE (page 3) to send in a personal letter about TRS-Care and how it impacts their lives. TRTA is calling on all members to tell their story and let our Texas legislators know that TRS-Care is a vital part of retired educators’ benefits!

As TRS-Care faces a funding shortfall that nears $1 billion, the Texas Legislature must make some tough decisions about resolving the crisis. The Legislature will be faced with choices such as drastically increasing premiums, reducing benefits or BOTH!

We cannot allow the entire burden of the shortfall to fall onto the backs of retirees! We must make our voices heard NOW and work with the Legislature to save TRS-Care!

Please take some time to review page 3 of your news bulletin and write a short letter in the space provided. The back of the page includes several charts and figures that will provide valuable information for your legislator.

Please mail your letter to the TRTA state office by addressing it to: TRTA, Attn: TRS-Care, 313 E. 12th Street Suite 200, Austin, TX 78701. TRTA will hand-deliver your letter to your Texas State Senator and Texas State Representative!

The response we have received so far has been very positive, and we thank you for taking the time to discuss what TRS-Care means to you. Please let your fellow retirees know that their input is important. Encourage them, as well as active educators you know that hope to use TRS-Care during their retirement years, to send in their letter today!

You may also download the letter here.

Thank You!

Thank you for your membership to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), and thank you for your support of the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation’s (TRTF) charitable endeavors. Our very existence is dependent upon YOU!

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.

Read More