As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) may have read in an Inside Line posted recently, the special session of the 87th Legislature began today. Included in Governor Greg Abbott’s proclamation of agenda items is a benefit enhancement for Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) retirees, in the form of a supplemental payment, or “thirteenth check.”

Several bills already have been filed to address TRS issues. Senate Bill 7, filed by longtime supporter Senator Joan Huffman (R – Houston), would provide for a one-time supplemental payment for Texas public education retirees who retired on or before December 31, 2020, not to exceed $2,400 if passed. Its companion bill in the House, HB 85, filed by Representative Glenn Rogers (R – Mineral Wells), does the same.

NOTE: SB 7 is scheduled for a committee hearing in Senate Finance tomorrow, July 9 at 1:00 p.m. TRTA members will be able to view the meeting online from this website.

In a press release, Senator Huffman stated that “approximately 96% of public education employees not covered by Social Security,” adding that TRS is their “sole source of their retirement income.”
“It is vital that the State of Texas continue to provide sufficient retirement benefits to these dedicated public servants,” Huffman said. “We can never truly repay our retired public education employees, but I am hopeful that this supplemental payment will help.”

House Bill 120, filed by Representative Drew Darby (R – San Angelo), and House Bill 159, filed by Giovanni Capriglione (R – Southlake), would provide a 6% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to TRS retirees, capped at $100 per month. If passed, the bills would apply to every TRS annuitant who retired before August 31, 2019.

House Bill 77, filed by Representative John Bucy (D – Cedar Park), would establish a joint select committee to study the feasibility and sustainability of providing a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to TRS retirees if passed.

TRTA is focusing the Legislature on your needs and concerns. TRTA leaders and staff will be at the Capitol working for you every day during the special session.

The window to pass any benefit enhancement for retirees is small, as special sessions are limited to a maximum of 30 days, though no minimum number of days is imposed. Once the Governor’s priority bills are considered, the special session could end at any time.

TRTA is forging ahead to get the best benefit enhancement possible for retired educators. Our public education retirees have the support of many Texas legislators!

TRTA will always advocate for maintaining and improving the TRS defined benefit pension plan, ensuring it is there for you and for all current active educators. TRS continues to benefit from the increased contributions from the state. We must do all we can to protect and improve the TRS pension fund for decades to come.

For the next 30 days (or less), we will fight to ensure this opportunity to give retirees some relief does not pass us by. Additional information about special sessions can be found here.

TRS Sells Indeed Tower Space, Is Let Out of Lease Obligations

TRTA members were very concerned about the high profile Indeed Tower investment that has been in the news since late 2019. Now, TRS has released a statement saying they have sold the building. Please see the news release online here.

TRTA expects to hear an update about this situation and the potential gains that TRS may have received from this investment at the next TRS Board of Trustees meeting, which occurs July 15 and 16.

Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Update

We know that many members also want an update on the important work TRTA is leading on the GPO and WEP. As you may know, TRTA is working on the issue with an increased sense of urgency knowing that our good friend and long-time champion, Congressman Kevin Brady, is retiring at the end of his current term in office.

The WEP and GPO are TRTA’s highest federal legislative priorities. Our work in Washington, D.C. and with our national partners is moving quickly. We expect more updates as the summer progresses.

Please stay tuned to the Inside Line for news, as well as information about bills that are filed and urgent Action Alerts that will be needed on our vital issues!

If you haven’t joined us yet, please do so today! If you’re already a member, be sure to renew your dues.