Let’s Make These Bills Better

Dear TRTA Members,

Thank you for your commitment to improving retirement benefits for TRS retirees. This session has been far more positive on our issues than two years ago. This is due to your steadfast dedication to our work in the legislative process!

We are at a critical moment in the legislative process.

Our actions now may mean the difference between actuarial soundness and financial relief for TRS retirees, or not making the progress we need to protect the future of TRS.

Many of you responded to our recent email about the ongoing discussions to make the pension fund actuarially sound and provide an increase for some TRS retirees. Thank you for providing us with your feedback.

After long and productive days at the Capitol, changes in HB 1884 (Callegari) and SB 1458 (Duncan) are being discussed thoroughly by our friends in the Texas Legislature.

A comment that we hear in nearly every office we visit is “we want to help our retired TRS members, and we want to help them now.

These legislators know the needs are many and the time has come to focus on the pension fund’s actuarial soundness and relief for TRS retirees.

TRTA also has made it a priority to partner with our friends in active educator organizations and seek their counsel as we discuss potential changes to TRS.

The good news is that we are all working tirelessly to achieve similar goals: make the fund actuarially sound, avoid the impact of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) changes in 2014, minimize the negative impact on our active school employees, and provide some financial relief to TRS retirees.

TRTA has met directly with both Senator Robert Duncan and Representative Bill Callegari, the lead authors of the bills, to discuss changes that we believe make them more agreeable than they are in their present form.

We are stressing that more TRS retirees need to be included in a benefit increase. Many of our friends in the Legislature want to achieve that goal as well.

TRTA knows that both Senator Duncan and Representative Callegari are true supporters of the TRS defined benefit plan and that their goals are to strengthen the fund’s actuarial condition and make it strong for all TRS retirees—both now and in the future. Many of you want this too.

Now is the time for action. Now is the time to be bold, and build these ideas into long-term, workable solutions!

We are asking you to help us. The bills as they are written do not offer enough help to retirees and have a large potential downside for active school employees. The legislative process is a progression, with bills improved by stakeholder input.

Those discussions ARE taking place and TRTA is heavily involved. Our goal is to be the voice for all TRS retirees, and the message is being sent loud and clear by your Austin legislative team.

While these bills are not perfect, they are what we have to work with and they absolutely can and should be improved! If they do not move, then we will miss this opportunity to make good things happen for all TRS retirees.

Within just a few short hours, over 4,500 emails were sent by TRTA members supporting these ongoing discussions. Thank you.

We need you to keep applying pressure. Keep emailing! If you already have sent an email, click here to send another one!

In addition, we are asking you to call your legislator and thank them for standing strong with TRS retirees and with TRTA.

There has been tremendous support for maintaining the TRS defined benefit plan. These bills, if adjusted appropriately, will make our pension fund actuarially sound and give our retirees much needed financial relief.

We hear your voice. We want the same thing you do: a guarantee to help retirees and more of them! This is possible this session. Our legislators need to HEAR from all of us!

It is imperative that your legislator receives a call from you as soon as possible. They need to hear you say:

“Thank you for not giving up on TRS retirees. SB 1458 and HB 1884 need improvement, but we know they are leading us in the right direction. It will take all of us working together to get them passed. TRTA supports this endeavor. Retirees need help now.”

Use our hotline to contact your Senator and Representative: 1.888.674.3788.

These bills need a chance. Please understand that some people want these bills to die simply because they want to change the TRS defined benefit structure to a defined contribution structure.

Let’s not let people steal this retirement system from us. Now is the time for action!

We cannot stress enough the need for your help. This is a call to action for all TRTA members who want to get the system actuarially sound, improve these bills for both retired and active TRS members, and achieve some financial relief for TRS retirees. Please help us! Make your call today.

TRTA Legislator Hotline: 1.888.674.3788.

Click here to send an email to your legislators!

Click here to learn who your legislators are!

Thank you for your ongoing support. We are making a difference. The passage of bills designed to help the TRS fund and help ALL TRS retirees is TRTA’s number one priority. Please contact your network of TRTA members and let them know about this action alert. We have already achieved some great accomplishments–like getting more than 100 co-authors on HB 1383!–and now is the time for TRTA to generate a grassroots action campaign that we know no one else in the state can match.

We are working with our friends in the legislature, we are working very closely with our friends in the active school employee/employer community. We can do this! A benefit increase for retirees is definitely possible this session. TRTA can lead the way in this endeavor.

Please remember to be positive and express appreciation to the legislators or their staff (this time of session, it is always nice to hear a pleasant voice on the phone!). Let your legislator know how important it is to make this TRS fund actuarially sound. Let them know how important a benefit increase would be to you! Let them know we are in this fight together and that we can accomplish great things. Tell them we can improve SB 1458 and HB 1884 to protect TRS now and in the future.

Thank you TRTA members. You are all doing an amazing job and I believe it is making a BIG difference!

Sincerely yours,

Tim Lee

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