Special Message About TRS Changing Rate of Return Assumption

Dear TRTA Members,

The major action by the Board of Trustees to lower their investment rate of return assumption from 8 percent to 7.25 percent will shape our state’s public policy on TRS for years to come.

TRTA is grateful to all the TRS Trustees for their long deliberation of this issue. This decision did not come easy and it did not occur without serious thought given to its wide-ranging ramifications.

We will direct all our efforts to ensure adequate funding is achieved for the pension fund.

Ultimately, the real focus must now be on our legislative activity. We must educate our elected officials and encourage them to do the right thing.

TRTA believes:

  • TRS must be managed by sound actuarial principles as outlined in Article 16 Section 67 of the Texas Constitution;
  • The Legislature should work with TRTA and other stakeholders to ensure the fund is appropriately funded and able to meet the actuarial conditions necessary to amortize promised benefit increases;
  • Texas TRS retirees are struggling financially. Every effort must be made to provide a benefit increase to TRS annuitants;
  • TRTA will OPPOSE any effort to reduce promised benefits to future TRS retirees. We will OPPOSE any attempt to transition TRS from a traditional defined benefit plan to a privatized defined contribution plan;
  • TRS-Care needs additional appropriation to stabilize the health care plan and reduce out-of-pocket costs to those who depend on it for their health care needs.

We believe in our members and their ability to communicate with elected officials. The TRS decision is NOT a doomsday moment, but we must recognize the next session will present an unparalleled challenge to TRTA and its members.

We will need to utilize all our advocacy skill, educational experience and our never-give-up determination to help the Legislature agree to public policy supporting our TRTA members and education retirees.

We must advocate for a sound funding policy; a policy that keeps the promise to our active school employees and provides a benefit increase for our current retirees.

Now is a time for action. The Legislature will need to act on these new funding challenges.

For TRTA members now is the time for education, advocacy and outreach. We need to work with our elected officials and improve TRS funding.

Now is also a time to act and participate in the electoral process and vote for those who choose to do the right thing to help TRS and TRS retirees.

If you have any doubt about your elected official supporting TRS and our TRTA agenda, now is the time to ask them.

Here are some good questions to ask those running for the Legislature in your area:

  • Will you commit to more funding for the TRS pension fund?
  • Will you support a funding policy that makes the TRS fund solvent and well funded?
  • Will you exhaust every opportunity to find a way to pass a benefit increase next session for current TRS retirees?
  • Will you support more permanent funding for TRS-Care and help make the program sustainable and affordable?
  • Will you oppose any effort to change the TRS benefit plan from a traditional defined benefit plan to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan for ALL current and future TRS retirees?

TRTA is preparing a questionnaire for the candidates running for Governor and Lt. Governor. The questionnaire will address the changes to the TRS pension fund. We will make that information public once we have responses.

You can count on TRTA to be your advocate. We need you and everyone you know to join in these efforts. While some may feel the all was lost after this decision was made, I believe our members never quit and never give in.

The challenge will be steep and climb will be tough, but we have fought our way up these hills before and TRTA will not rest until we reach the top again.

We are preparing a complete in-depth update on this matter in an issue of the TRTA member news bulletin The VOICE. If you are not a member and want to help us fight to protect your pension, improve your health care, and help us win retirees a much needed benefit increase, please join us today!

Thank YOU!

Tim Lee

TRTA Executive Director

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