Yesterday, thousands of voters turned out for the Texas Primary Election on Super Tuesday. According to the Texas Tribune, “more than 4.2 million Texans turned out to vote in the Republican and Democratic primary presidential elections, about 30 percent of registered voters.” We know that many of our members and their fellow retirees are a part of this dedicated group of people!

As the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has reiterated over the past several weeks, many elections in Texas, particularly for seats in the Texas Senate and House, are decided during the Primary Election and not during the November General Election. A complete list of results from yesterday’s primary can be found here.

While many races now have narrowed down the list of candidates for the Republican and Democratic seats to one contender, there will be several runoffs that our members should keep an eye on.

The Primary Runoff Election will be held on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. Early voting will begin on Monday, May 16, 2016 and continue through Friday, May 20. Details about mail-in ballots and voter registration can be found here.

While the turnout for Super Tuesday was better than anticipated, it is common for voters to skip the Primary Runoff Election. TRTA wants our members to know that YOUR VOTE MATTERS even more in the Primary Runoff!

If you live in an area where there will be a Primary Runoff, get early voting on your schedule NOW!

Runoff Elections to Watch

TRTA will be following several races closely as the runoffs draw near.

Texas Senate Primary Runoff Races

Senate District 1
Senator Kevin Eltife is retiring. Republican candidates facing each other in the primary runoff are: Bryan Hughes and David Simpson. There are no Democratic candidates vying for this seat.

Senate District 24
Senator Troy Fraser is retiring. Republican candidates facing each other in the primary runoff are: Dawn Buckingham and Susan King. Democratic candidate Virginia Leeder won the Democratic primary.

Texas House Primary Runoff Races

House District 5
Representative Bryan Hughes has stepped down to run for the Texas Senate. The following Republican candidates will face each other in the primary runoff election: Cole Hefner and Jay Misenheimer. There are no Democratic candidates vying for this seat.

House District 18
Representative John Otto is retiring. The following Republican candidates will face each other in the primary runoff election: Ernest Bailes and Keith Strahan. There are no Democratic candidates vying for this seat.

House District 54
Representative Jimmie Don Aycock is retiring. The following Republican candidates face each other in the primary runoff election: Austin Ruiz and Scott Cosper. Sandra Blankenship won the Democratic primary.

House District 73
Representative Doug Miller faces challenger Kyle Biedermann in the Republican primary runoff. There are no Democratic candidates vying for this seat.

House District 128
Representative Wayne Smith faces challenger Briscoe Cain  in the Republican primary runoff. There are no Democratic candidates vying for this seat.

TRS-Care Now Major Focus of TRTA Activities

TRTA is now shifting much of its focus to the upcoming TRS-Care Joint Committee Meeting. As we mentioned in an Inside Line last week, the first meeting of the joint committee is planned for 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 in Room E1.028 (Hearing Room) of the Texas Capitol.

Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Executive Director Brian Guthrie reported last week that the TRS-Care health insurance program will have a negative fund balance by the end of the current biennium, facing a shortfall even greater than the one experienced in 2015. That shortfall is projected to be $1.5 billion when the next legislative session begins in 2017.

During the 84th Legislative Session in 2015, TRS-Care’s shortfall of $768 million was addressed with supplemental funding through House Bill 2. As Guthrie stated during last week’s meeting, “it is unlikely that those sources of revenue will be available again” during the 2017 session.

The select joint committee formed by the Texas Legislature will investigate this issue, meeting during the interim to discuss solutions to the TRS-Care crisis.

The legislative members named to this group are: Senators Joan Huffman (R-Houston) – Co-Chair, Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), and Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls); and Representatives Dan Flynn (R-Canton) – Co-Chair, Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin), and Justin Rodriguez (D-San Antonio).

Progress on TRS-Care will happen in 2016 and it will happen quickly. TRTA needs your participation in every step of this process! Please stay tuned to the Inside Line for updated information about how you can participate in this upcoming meeting.

The reality of systemic changes to TRS-Care must be faced head on. It is possible that your premiums may increase or your benefits may change, or both! TRS-Care is a top priority for TRTA as we head full steam into 2016.

Please continue to stay vigilant and alert!

Thank You

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

Protecting your retirement benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all the difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.