TRTA Member Alert: This Week Vital for Achieving Major Legislative Goals

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Last week was a turning point for all TRS members. A bill (SB 1458) aimed at the long-term funding of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) defined benefit plan passed the Senate and was sent to the House. Texas House Pensions Chairman Bill Callegari received the bill in committee, where it received an immediate and unanimous vote and was sent to the next step. Now, we are fighting the clock as the end of session nears and as a stack of other bills are trying to get through the process.

Time is not on our side.

There is one thing that SB 1458 has going for it that many of other pieces of legislation may not: an army of 80,000-plus TRTA members fighting to pass it! While this bill was progressing in the Senate, TRTA members sent over 55,000 emails and made thousands of phone calls. We need your help to keep the pressure on in the House!!

By now, you know the major components of this legislation.

  • Actuarial soundness this year (before this session started, this goal was considered a “never”).
  • A 3% cost-of-living increase for those who retired in 1999 and before (TRTA is doing a special report on this proposed COLA later this week).
  • Over $200 million in increased state contributions, which raises TRS funding to 6.8% in both FY 2014 and FY 2015.
  • A gradual increase in active member contributions from 6.4% in FY 2014 to 7.7% in FY 2017.
  • A new school district contribution to the TRS fund of 1.5%.
  • A link between active member, school district, and state contributions that will make reducing state contributions in the future far more difficult.
  • Preservation of the TRS defined benefit plan for ALL TRS employees and retirees.
  • A path to additional increases for all TRS retirees as the fund improves its actuarial condition under these new initiatives.

Over the last few sessions, the TRS fund has been under heavy attack by groups that want to rid the state of its defined benefit traditional retirement plans. The state has been unwilling to make reasonable long-term commitments to funding TRS. TRS retirees have suffered 12 years with no cost-of-living increases, and were not shown a real plan to make the fund sound and help our retirees in need.

Now, we finally have a chance to implement real solutions to these problems. It’s time for action!

There are always ways to improve legislation. TRTA is working with EVERY member of the Texas House to see what may be possible. Especially important to TRTA is the expansion of the COLA.

Time is running out. The good news for all TRS retirees is that the Legislature has worked hard to keep TRS-Care premiums from increasing for another biennium. If we are able to secure this, it will be 10 years that TRTA and its members have protected TRS retiree health care costs.

It is also important to stress that this legislation is the best possible path to TRS long-term actuarial soundness. Achieving this goal allows TRS to use its investment earnings to improve the overall financial condition of the fund AND incorporate cost-of-living raises over time.

Without the provisions in this bill, the TRS fund’s long-term financial condition will continue to worsen, no retiree will get any cost-of-living increase this session, and we will not be on a path to making COLAs possible any time soon.

Let’s not end this session knowing that we were THIS CLOSE to actuarial soundness and helping TRS retirees. Let’s make this the session that we rebuffed any attacks on TRS and put the system on solid financial footing for all current and future TRS retirees!

Click here to send an email today! Your communication is VITAL!!! Please understand the level of noise now involved in the legislative process. Every interest group is vying for legislative attention in these last weeks of session.

YOU are TRTA’s VOICE! Let’s make sure the Legislature knows this must be done!!

Be sure to email and call every day this week!! Focus on your own legislators, but be ready for more specific messaging later this week!

Thank you for being a vital part of the TRTA statewide team! If you are not a member and want more information about joining, call us at1.800.880.1650. Your membership is the foundation that allows TRTA to be your champion in the Texas Legislature. TRTA dues are $25 per year.