Something Different…Good News from Nation’s Capitol

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) will host a town hall meeting on Monday, March 12, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. The official notice of this meeting is below.

“You are invited to attend a Town Hall meeting/webcast scheduled for March 12, 2012 from 1-3 p.m. at TRS Headquarters, 1000 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701. The meeting will be on the 4th Floor in the TRS Cafeteria.

At the meeting you can submit questions about both studies. If you cannot attend in person, questions will be taken through the webcast which will be shown live on the TRS web site. A link will be available on the TRS web site at www.trs.state.tx.us.

The two studies will focus on actuarial and fiscal impacts from potential changes to the TRS pension plan and a comprehensive review of potential plan design and other changes that would improve the long-term sustainability of TRS-Care.”

TRTA will testify at this meeting. If you are in the Austin area, we strongly encourage member attendance and participation. It is important that we send a strong message to legislators that we are active and involved in the discussions about TRS benefit programs.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, be sure to log on to the TRS web site and watch the live webcast. The webcast will allow you to submit questions to the TRS panel in real-time, making it a great opportunity to see, hear, and interact with the TRS study group. TRTA appreciates the TRS Board and staff for making this a transparent and interactive process.

The Texas Legislature is requiring this actuarial and fiscal impact study of potential changes to the TRS defined benefit plan and TRS-Care health insurance program. TRTA members know that there are numerous organizations, special interests, and powerful individuals that want to see the TRS defined benefit plan modified for active and/or future employees. TRTA’s core value is the preservation of the TRS defined benefit plan. We also oppose any changes to the TRS-Care health insurance program that weakens the benefit structure or shifts more health care costs onto retirees.

Remember, this special town hall meeting is set for Monday, March 12, at 1:00 p.m. If you plan to attend, please arrive at the TRS building no later than 12:45 p.m. Those watching the webcast via the TRS web site (www.trs.state.tx.us) should be able to log on to the presentation at 1:00 p.m. TRTA will send another reminder on Monday morning.

Good News from Washington

The National Institute of Retirement Security (NIRS) released a new study this week about the impact pensioners have on the nation’s economy. The economic impact study finds that pension benefit expenditures provide critical economic stimulus, including more than $1 trillion in total economic output for the United States!

The study calculates that pension expenditures supported 6.5 million American jobs, which paid nearly $315 billion in income to Americans in 2009. More than $1 trillion in total economic output and $553 billion in value added to the U.S. was attributable to pension benefits. These expenditures also supported $134 billion in tax revenue at the local, state, and federal levels.

In 2009, the national unemployment rate was 9.3%. The study finds that the 6.5 million American jobs supported by pension expenditures are significant, as they represent 4.2 percentage points in the national labor force.

In 2009, 478,767 Texas residents received a total of $10.2 billion in pension benefits from state and local pension plans. Retirees’ expenditures from these benefits supported a total of $20.2 billion in total economic output in the state, and $11.2 billion in value added in the state.

The study shows that $7.5 billion in direct economic impacts were supported by retirees’ initial expenditures. An additional $7.0 billion in indirect impact resulted when these businesses purchased additional goods and services. $5.7 billion in induced impacts occurred when employees hired by businesses as a result of the direct and indirect impacts made expenditures.

The bottom line is that Texas pensioners, including retirees in TRS, are a vital part of our national, state, and local economies. With these systems under attack for all the wrong reasons, Texas taxpayers need to know that there is tremendous value in supporting our state public pension plans.

TRTA is a supporting member of the National Institute on Retirement Security. Their work is supporting our efforts to protect and improve TRS.

TRTA Membership News

TRTA wants to thank everyone who renewed their membership or joined TRTA as a first-time member in the 2011-2012 year. TRTA’s message that we are the voice for all Texas public education retirees is motivating more members to join in our efforts to protect your pension and health care benefits. The total TRTA membership this year is a record-breaking 72,036!

We know that times have been tough and that for many, belt-tightening is a way of life. Even still, so many of you believe in our legislative and membership efforts and graciously support TRTA by renewing your dues. Now, we are faced with even more extreme challenges and threats to our pension fund and health care benefits. These are the times that membership matters most. We must demonstrate to those who want to see us defeated that we are vigilant, unified, and strong. Your support and membership in TRTA sends a loud, clear, and unfiltered message to any and all who oppose the preservation of the TRS defined benefit plan and who seek to diminish the benefits you have earned.

From all of us at TRTA, thank you!