Now that the 2018 midterm elections are over, we want to extend a sincere “Thank You!” to our TRTA members and supporters who voted and helped get the vote out in this critical election cycle. Voter turnout in Texas soared, and we know many educators—retirees and pre-retirees—participated.

Texas Educators Vote, a non-partisan group that promotes a culture of voting among educators and students, provided the following voter statistics:

Percentage of eligible Texas voters registered to vote:
2014 – 74.15%                    2018 – 79.40%

Increase of 5.25% in voter registration!

Percentage of registered Texas voters who turned out to vote:
2014 – 33%                          2018 – 53%

That is an increase of 20% in voter turnout! The last time voter turnout in Texas was this high was in 1970!

Many of you may have heard that the number one issue in this election around the country was health care. The need to improve access and cost for health care dominated the national and state narratives on why many people voted this election cycle. Health care ranked higher than the economy as the major issue driving this election.

TRTA members know all too well that if your health care costs are outpacing your ability to meet those expenses, you really have no financial or retirement security. Many retirees also know that higher health care costs create financial pressure when living on a fixed income with no COLA. Some financial relief is needed now if retired school employees expect to have a chance to meet the rising costs of living.

Now, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is busy preparing for the 86th Legislative Session that begins on January 8, 2019. Newly elected legislators and those returning to office in January already can begin to pre-file bills for the upcoming session starting as early as Monday, November 12!

Many legislators have not served in the Texas Legislature before and will want to know more about the issues that affect retired educators. Now is the time for TRTA members to begin reaching out to their state Senators and Representatives and begin the education process!

Who Represents Me?

You may use this app available through the Texas Tribune to determine who will be representing you in the Texas Legislature in 2019. Just enter your address where indicated and the page will auto-populate with information about the elected officials serving your district.

Specifically, look to Texas Senate and Texas House results to determine your state legislature officials. The Texas Legislature is the entity that governs the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

For returning officials, you can find contact information for district and Capitol offices on the Texas Legislature website (please bear in mind this website has not yet been updated with newly elected officials).

House

Senate

Newly elected, first-time Senators and Representatives may have a website or Facebook page where you can find current contact information.

TRTA’s Legislative Agenda

Retired educators will have much at stake when lawmakers come to Austin. TRTA is prepared to go to the Legislature. We are going to fight for more pension funding, benefit enhancements for TRS retirees and improved TRS-Care funding.

We are hearing from many of our friends in the Legislature, as well as those who ran for office this year, that the issues related to TRS are important and require resolution.

As a TRTA member or supporter, we know you are already doing your part to help us achieve our policy agenda next session.
If you are new to TRTA, or perhaps you are not yet a member, we want you to know our member advocacy effort is effective, efficient and inclusive. As one TRTA member recently said to me, “We need to get everyone off the sidelines and in the game. I want to tell all TRS retirees to stop messing around, let’s get tough and get active with TRTA!”

We agree! There are more than 440,000 TRS retirees or beneficiaries. TRTA membership is growing fast, but we still to get everyone on the team, suited up and ready to win.

Over the past several weeks, TRTA has provided a series of informative videos detailing the items included in our legislative agenda for the coming session. This series, entitled Retirees Deserve Better, outlines the major issues affecting retirees and TRS.

Retirees Deserve Better Video Series

Now is a great time to read and review the blog posts we created and watch the brief but educational videos again.

  1. Series Overview: TRTA Releases New Video Series: “TRS Retirees Deserve Better!”
  2. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: Rate of Return
  3. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: Defined Benefits
  4. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: Cost-of-Living Adjustment
  5. TRS Retirees Deserve Better Video: TRS-Care

Next Steps

Thank you to all of our members for voting and being engaged in the legislative process. Please stay tuned to the Inside Line and also our next issue of The VOICE to learn more about how you can get involved!

TRTA is ready to meet with all elected officials to discuss TRS-Care and all other items on our legislative agenda. We will work with them to establish the best policy possible to support our dedicated educational workforce and retiree population!