The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) held its 64th Annual Convention this week in Austin on March 27-28, followed by a rousing day of advocacy at the Texas Capitol on March 29, where nearly 1,500 TRTA members and friends convened to rally and meet with their legislators.
The convention was a two-day affair held at the Hilton Austin packed with information, including committee and officer training sessions and a productive House of Delegates meeting. To download a committee or office resource guide, please visit our website here. TRTA will provide a full update on bylaws amendments in second quarter issue of The VOICE.
Maridell Fryar, TRTA’s former President,
accepted the E.L. Galyean award, TRTA’s highest honor.
On Tuesday, March 28, TRTA held a legislative luncheon for 650 members, featuring a panel led by TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee. Lee started the program, which aired live on Facebook, by discussing the current state of TRS-Care with Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Executive Director Brian Guthrie. A few moments into the panel, Chairman John Zerwas and Chairman Trent Ashby, who lead the Appropriations Committee and Appropriations – Article III Subcommittee respectively, arrived to thunderous applause.
Watch the Legislative Luncheon here:
The luncheon gave members the opportunity to hear directly from legislative leaders who are working to find funding to help with the TRS-Care shortfall. As you may recall, Chairman Zerwas originally filed House Bill 2, a supplemental appropriations bill, which included $500 million for TRS-Care from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. While HB 2 was being used as the vehicle for the TRS-Care funding, the Texas House Appropriations committee has moved this money from HB 2 to HB 1. Next week, the Texas House will debate the budget on the House floor, and TRTA members will be able to support this process by asking their legislators to support the House budget bill. We will report more on this issue as the budget gets closer to floor action.
Chairman Ashby filed House Bill 3976, which would increase the state’s contribution from 1 percent to 1.25 percent of active teacher payroll if adopted.
On Wednesday, March 29, TRTA members from all across the state began arriving at the Texas Capitol, some coming from the Austin Hilton, and hundreds on chartered buses. The enthusiastic crowd of educators wore red shirts, carried red bags and donned specially made buttons that read “Keep TRS-Care Affordable!”
Throughout the day, retirees were honored with proclamations in both the House and the Senate and set up meetings with hundreds of legislators. TRTA is thankful for all the legislators who honored retirees. Watch the House’s proclamations here. Watch the Senate’s proclamations here. At 11:30 a.m., hundreds of retirees gathered on the Capitol’s South Steps for a rousing rally and heard from multiple legislators.
Chairman John Zerwas addressed TRTA members
on the south steps of the Texas Capitol.
TRTA wishes to thank all those legislators who took time out their very busy schedules to speak publicly to our members and meet with them one-on-one. During the rally, TRTA was honored to share the platform with Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville), Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond), Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston), Rep. Tomas Uresti (D-San Antonio), Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Denton), Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas) and Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington). Rep. Phil Stephenson (R-Wharton) also joined members on the east lawn for a long visit and Amy’s Ice Cream later in the day.
Members, if your legislator took the time to join us during Day at the Capitol, please be sure to send a handwritten thank you note or give them a phone call to let them know you appreciate their support. Day at the Capitol made a huge impression and put hundreds of faces to the very real and challenging issue that is the TRS-Care insurance program.
Now is not the time for TRTA and its members to rest, though! We ARE making progress in both the House and the Senate, and we must continue communicating with our legislators about the importance of health care and retirement security for all current and future public education retirees.
Thank you to each and every member of TRTA for their participation in our convention and Day at the Capitol. Your presence was felt whether you were able to be here in person or not. Thank you to those of you who made phone calls and sent emails, participating virtually and helping us remind legislators to Keep TRS-Care Affordable!
TRTA members flooded the House, Senate and south Capitol steps,
as legislators praised retirees’ work.
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.