TRTA Day at the Capitol Update!

TRTA is hosting its Day at the Capitol on March 23. Please click here to send an email to legislators and their staff inviting them to attend and telling them we appreciate their work on our behalf.

In addition to thanking legislators for their work, TRTA is using this day to stress four primary legislative goals for the session:

  • Use any and all state resources to restore funding to TRS-Care health insurance;
  • Work with TRTA to pass legislation providing a pension benefit increase to TRS retirees;
  • Restore funding for the TRS pension trust fund; and
  • Promote the value of the TRS defined benefit pension plan.

As with all TRTA email advocacy campaigns, there is space at the beginning and end of the message for you to provide your own content. One suggestion is to let your legislator(s) know if you will attend the rally and if so, that you would like to visit with them personally when you arrive in Austin.

A look back at this week’s legislative happenings

TRTA testified in the House Pensions Investments and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee for HB 738 and HB 1061, authored by Representative John Otto. This legislation allows TRS to continue use of its current investment tools to manage the pension fund assets. It also adjusts the amount of assets TRS may invest in hedge funds from 5 percent to 10 percent. This investment tool is being requested by TRS to manage their overall investment risk. Representative Otto and Mr. Ronnie Jung (Executive Director for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas), suggested adding a sunset provision that ends the investment authority in 2019 (which is when the TRS sunset review process occurs in the Legislature).

The House Appropriations Committee is nearly finished with its work on a proposed budget to the full House. During their negotiations, House leaders and Governor Rick Perry agreed to use $3.2 billion of the “Rainy Day Fund” to meet funding obligations from the current biennium. This effectively frees $3 billion for use in the coming budget cycle.

Already, legislative leaders are focused on using these budget resources to fund deep cuts in education, health and human services, and corrections.

So far, however, the House budget writers HAVE NOT ALLOCATED ANY NEW MONEY FOR THE TRS HEALTH CARE OR PENSION FUND! TRTA is working with these members to restore, at minimum, $300 million to the TRS-Care health insurance program to avoid premium increases that may be as high as 30 to 80 percent! TRTA members can deliver this message to legislators personally during the TRTA Day at the Capitol next Wednesday.

Please send another email to legislators asking them to restore funding to the TRS health care program and the TRS pension trust fund by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

TRTA members are doing a great job sending emails and communicating with legislators. For those who are not able to attend next week, we will post a special email campaign so that you too can participate in the TRTA Day at the Capitol. Please do not forget that TRTA has a toll-free Contact Your Legislator hotline (888.674.3788) that you can use to call your legislators any time you wish.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to TRTA!

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