Blog

12 Mar
0

TRTA Launches Initiative Reaching Out to Active School Personnel

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been working on a special project over the past several years to create a community for both active and retired school personnel. In the summer of 2013, the project was presented to the TRTA District Presidents and has been in the final development stages for the past several months. Our Facebook friends were able to get a sneak peek of this project last week!

Before the Bell is a website and email newsletter that provides classroom tools and features articles about projects implemented by schools all around Texas. The site also offers insights from active and former education employees and information about retirement. There are even entertaining articles about everything from travel to book reviews to recipes to grant opportunities. It is truly a one-stop education resource designed especially for Texas educators.

As TRTA puts the finishing touches on the project, we would love to hear from our members and friends! Please take some time to visit www.beforethebell.org and also to sign up for the free e-newsletter. You can sign up for the e-newsletter by submitting your name, email address, and zip code on the home page in the far right-hand column. The e-newsletter will arrive in your inbox every Monday.

To submit feedback, please send an email to info@trta.org. Is the site helpful and informative? What types of articles would you like to see on the site? Are there any site improvements you would like to suggest? Are you willing to submit original articles to be published on the site? Your feedback is vital to us as we make plans to deliver Before the Bell to all school districts in Texas.

TRTA hopes to make this site valuable not only for active school personnel such as teachers, principals, superintendents and administrative workers but also for retired educators who want to stay in the know about what’s happening in education in Texas. Please share this site with active school personnel and retirees you may know.

TRTA is leading the effort to help protect the benefits that retired and active school employees have earned. We must remain united in our efforts with active school employees as they carry the torch that was passed to them when our members retired.

Many positive things are happening in our public schools. Education employees are often criticized. This community will help all active and retired school employees stay focused on the good news in our schools and provide unique insights from current TRTA members about retirement.

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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06 Mar
0

Primary Election Results and Focusing on TRS-Care

On Tuesday, March 4, Texans made their way to the polls to cast their votes in the 2014 Texas Primary Election. We know that thousands of members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) participated in the election process over the past several weeks, including hundreds who voted early.

Several races were determined in the Primary Election, while some will continue over the next 12 weeks as candidates face runoff elections on May 27. If you voted in the Primary Election, please be sure to vote in the runoff! Please recall that Texas election law requires that you vote in the same party runoff as the party primary you voted in for the Primary Election.

Voter turnout is historically low in the Texas Primary Election, and even lower in Primary Runoff Elections. Early voting for the Primary Runoff Election begins May 19 and ends May 23. Please put this on your schedule!

TRTA will provide updates over the next several weeks about key races that our members should be following. To review election results, please visit the Texas Tribune Election Results Scoreboard.

Focusing on TRS-Care

We discussed the importance of voting in the Primary Election numerous times in February and March. One of the most significant concerns facing public education retirees in the 84thLegislative Session that begins in January 2015 is the impending funding crisis to the TRS-Care health insurance program.

A large number of our elected officials will be new or have less than two years of experience by the time the next legislative session begins. This means many legislators may not be familiar with the issues impacting retired teachers in Texas or our active school personnel! It is essential that we elect Senators and Representatives that support TRS-Care and the TRS pension fund.

As you will read in the upcoming issue of The VOICE (which should reach your mailbox in mid-March) TRS-Care is facing a $1 billion projected shortfall in the next biennium if nothing is done to improve the program’s long-term sustainability.

The official TRS report indicates the shortfalls to TRS-Care are $424 million in FY 2016 and $591 million in FY 2017. This combined total of $1.02 billion is what is needed to keep the fund solvent through the next biennium.  Another $721 million shortfall is expected in FY 2018. In 2013 alone, costs exceeded funding for TRS-Care by $190 million.

This information reveals that the shortfalls will continue to increase dramatically each biennium. It also tells us that the Legislature will be looking at all options to “fix” the TRS-Care crisis. The definition of “fix” is now being discussed by TRS, TRTA, other stakeholders and our elected officials.

This crisis is not like the manufactured crisis wrought by groups and individuals who want to rob public servants of their hard-earned pensions. The TRS-Care crisis potentially is far more detrimental because the reserve fund is nearly gone and the options for dealing with it are not easy fixes.

Please take the time to read the article about TRS-Care thoroughly when you receive The VOICE in the mail. If the Primary election for your Texas State Senator or State Representative resulted in the need for a runoff, we ask that you contact the candidates on your ballot and talk to them or their staff about the urgent concerns with TRS-Care.

TRTA will provide a list of key runoff races the same week that you receive your news bulletin in the mail.

TRTA Prepares for the 61st Annual TRTA Convention

Nearly 1000 members of TRTA are planning to attend the 61st Annual TRTA Convention April 13-15 in Dallas. TRS-Care will be a key topic on the minds of many of our District and Local Unit leaders as well as our state officers.

If you are planning to attend, and have not yet registered, you may do so when you receive The VOICE in the mail this month. You also have the option of registering for the Convention online by clicking here.

Hotel reservations can be made at the Dallas Marriott City Center (overflow hotel), located at 650 North Pearl Street, which has limited room availability at the rate of $139 for a single, double or triple room. To reserve your room, please call 1.800.228.9290. Please be sure to state that you are with TRTA.

All convention events will be held at the Sheraton Hotel, accessible by a sky bridge from the Dallas Marriott City Center. For more details about our informative training sessions, keynote speakers and the convention schedule, please visit the TRTA website.

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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04 Mar
0

Vote in the Primary Election Today!

Today, March 4, is Primary Election day in Texas! The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been spreading the message that voting in the Primary Election is of vital importance to all of our members and all public education retirees in the state!

In yesterday’s Inside Line, we told you that only 3 to 6 percent of Texas voters tend to vote in gubernatorial primaries. Because so few voters vote in the Primary Election, EVERY VOTE MATTERS!

We have also repeated this to our members for the past several weeks, and it bears mentioning again: Most political races in Texas are determined DURING THE PRIMARY ELECTION, not the November General Election!

According to the Texas Tribune, “in modern-day Texas, the election that matters is usually the Republican primary…and the winners who emerge from Tuesday’s Republican primary and subsequent May 27 runoff elections will in most cases be the prohibitive favorites to win in November.”

The Tribune also states that “a small subset of the state’s electorate holds considerable influence.” Regardless of whether you vote in the Republican or Democratic primary, it is vital that you vote!

TRTA has 80,000 members and represents the voices of over 300,000 retirees and more than 800,000 pre-retirees in Texas! We can and must use our considerable influence and VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION!

A large number of our elected officials will be new or have less than two years of experience by the time the next legislative session begins in January 2015. This means many legislators may not be familiar with the issues impacting retired teachers in Texas or our active school personnel!

It is essential that we elect Senators and Representatives that support TRS-Care and the TRS pension fund. In our previous Voter Health Series articles, we discussed several contested and open seats in the Primary election. Please review these races and determine if you are impacted! The Texas Tribune Elections Bracket can help you determine who is running for office in your area.

Please also use the valuable Teach the Vote resource from the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) to review candidates’ responses to important questions about education and TRS. Teach the Vote can be found by clicking here.

Where to Vote Today

When you vote today, you must vote in your precinct. To determine your polling location, please visit the Texas Secretary of State website by clicking here. Per the website, you may select one of three methods to do a polling place search: search by 1. your Texas driver’s license number, if you provided it when you applied for voter registration; 2. your Voter Unique Identifier (VUID), which appears on your voter registration certificate; or 3. your first and last name.

Some locations are opening later than originally planned due to inclement weather conditions. Please do not let this prevent you from voting! We encourage you to use caution if you live in an area where it may be dangerous to travel. Please wait until conditions are safe before you venture out to the polls. Please call ahead to determine how late your polling location is open.

Encourage your fellow retirees, family members and friends to come out and vote in the Primary Election. Arrange a car pool of neighbors and go to the polling location together!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! Remember, you are a valued member of our organization, and your vote in the Primary Election is also valuable! Use your power and vote! If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, contact us at 1.800.880.1650.

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