TRTA Members in Action Making a BIG Difference!!
EMAIL ACTION ALERTS INCLUDED IN THIS UPDATE!
Watch an Exclusive Video Update from TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee Below!
Today, February 25, the Texas House Appropriations Committee Chairman, John Otto, made a public announcement that the House intends to fully fund TRS-Care for the 2016-17 biennium. This means the $768 million projected shortfall to the retiree health insurance program will be funded under the House budget proposal.
“Many House members are concerned about our retired teachers and TRS-Care. Members of Appropriations and members throughout the House have come up to me and expressed their clear desire to help retired teachers,” Otto said. “I want to reassure every member on this Committee, every member in the House and every retired teacher that the House will fully fund TRS-Care. This issue is too important to go unaddressed so I want to commit to you today that the House will fund our obligations to our retired teachers.”
Immediately, Chairman Otto received support from Pensions Chairman Dan Flynn. The Pensions Committee is responsible for hearing any bills that affect the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and TRS-Care.
“I am glad that the House is going to address the shortage of funding for retiree health care over the next two years as we continue to assess long-term solutions in my committee for those who served our state and our school children for so many years,” Flynn said in a statement released after Otto’s public announcement.
Additionally, during the floor session of the Texas House, Chairman Otto and Representative Jim Keffer made comments to the entire body and received resounding support for the proposed measure, while also expressing concerns for the future of the program and its long-term solvency.
“This is going to give us two years to sit down and work with you to come up with what we can look forward to to help our teachers permanently,” Keffer said.
While Otto’s announcement is great news, there is still much work that must be done to protect TRS-Care and its participants. The Texas Senate is also crafting a 2016-17 budget, and the two proposals must be reconciled before the session ends.
Our very own Executive Director, Tim Lee, was quoted by the Austin American-Statesman as saying “it certainly is good to have this kind of support early on in session…it’s a potential crisis for retirees and knowing that we have the support of the House budget chairman is a step in the right direction of making sure retirees are going to be taken care of.”
TRTA’s focus is on both a short-term and long-term fix, meaning the shortfall must be funded and the longevity of the program and its systemic flaws must be addressed. There is still much work for TRTA and its members to do during the current legislative session to accomplish these goals.
Your many efforts to contact your legislators during the interim and legislative session have made a huge difference in getting this first, vital step taken. Because of you, your legislators have heard your concerns loud and clear and have a strong desire to help our retirees!
Now, we must focus on two pertinent actions: thanking our Representatives for supporting this initiative and asking our Senator for their help as we continue to fight to save TRS-Care! Let’s show our appreciation and desire to keep working on this issue by sending as many emails as possible! Please be sure to share this Inside Line with your fellow retirees.
TRTA is committed to working hard this session with members of the Texas Senate and House to protect the TRS-Care program and its participants. Thank you for joining us in every step we take to ensure the retirement security of all current and future Texas public education retirees!
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 our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.
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 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.