Retiree Budget Issues Raise Awareness

Click Here to Send our Thank You Message to Your House member! Remember, thank you messages are as important, if not more so, than our Action Messages. Good things are happening, but other groups are attacking our progress. Let’s send a stronger message than any other group in Texas!!

Thank you TRTA members for your emails to House members yesterday supporting our budget initiatives. Please click here to send an email to your House member thanking them for their adoption of our amendments and passage of a budget more supportive of TRS benefits.

Now that the Texas House has adopted its version of the state budget, the next step is to take the bill to conference committee where Senate and House designees discuss and agree to final budget changes.

Yesterday’s TRTA email campaign encouraged House members to adopt two TRTA-developed amendments. They support the work being done by legislators to increase funding for our TRS pension trust fund and TRS-Care program!

Thanks to an outpouring of TRTA support, our primary issues continue to advance in the legislative process! Please take the time to thank your House member.

Last night’s debate was very supportive of TRS retirees. As you know, some members tried to redirect dollars from other parts of the budget to the TRS pension fund or TRS-Care program. As TRTA reported yesterday morning, these were not new dollars but dollars already allocated for other state services, programs, or agencies. While TRTA does not oppose the Texas House evaluating its budget priorities and determining how TRS can receive higher appropriations, TRTA already has been engaged in an ongoing discussion with House and Senate leaders to make improved appropriation levels possible for TRS programs.

TRTA remains concerned that outside organizations seem to be involved actively in pushing for the budget reallocation efforts. We know they will try to beat up members who voted for the originally planned budget allocations, stating that these votes were putting other spending priorities above retired teachers.

These groups, however, do not support TRTA positions and retirees’ interests in preserving the defined benefit pension plan and TRS-Care health insurance program. TRTA members need to send a clear message to all House members: “Thank you for seeing through the rhetoric being foisted into the budget decision process about TRS retirees.”

TRTA is the voice for all TRS retirees—an organization with a 60-year track record of protecting and improving TRS. The organizations that want to attack legislators for their votes last night are on record as wanting to do away with our defined benefit plan.

TRTA believes that every legislative member was acting on their commitment to TRS retirees. The level of support for retired educators in the Texas House came through loud and clear all day. Your influence on the Texas House floor diminished many attempts to politicize what truly was a good-natured debate on the funding of our state’s commitment to TRS retirees.

Your voice is being heard. We need you to make it loud and strong over the next week! Please thank these legislators for their hard work and commitment to finding new solutions to our core issues: protecting the defined benefit plan, making the pension fund actuarially sound, improving TRS-Care funding, and finding a way to provide a real retirement increase for TRS members!

As you send your thank you letter, keep in mind that many of these legislators will be attacked for their votes on these various amendments. TRTA commends every legislator who worked through the process to find ways to improve TRS. We do not support the attack rhetoric against legislators for their work on the budget. TRTA members, your voice is important and is needed to cut through the negativity and keep our legislators focused on helping advance ideas we know are helping our core legislative values.

Again, thank you for your support and action today. It has made a major difference. We continue to be encouraged by the work being done in the Texas Legislature. The budget debate will move forward, and bills are being heard to improve your TRS pension fund. More work is still needed; but you are helping advance a strong TRTA legislative agenda!

As a final thank you, TRTA is very appreciative of several key House members last night: House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts; House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Otto; House Energy Resources Chairman Jim Keffer; House Pensions Chairman Bill Callegari; and Representative Bennett Ratliff (while so many others worked behind the scenes and soldiered support on the House floor!). These members are working hard for you. If one of these legislators is your State Representative, please be sure to thank them on behalf of ALL TRTA members.

Concluding Comments

TRTA is so appreciative for your support and help on these vital issues. We are making good progress this session. Remember that many other groups are working to counter your best interests. They are trying to quiet TRTA, minimize your issues, and ultimately defeat our legislative agenda and advance their own.

Their agenda is not designed to protect your pension. It is designed to eliminate the defined benefit plan completely, and remove the access TRS retirees have to a quality health care plan and true retirement security.

The most important defense we have against that agenda is the work we do in the legislative process. Please, take the time to be active and click here to send a thank you note to your Texas House member.

We still have a long way to go this session and we can win many more victories as long as legislators know we are active, we are not going to be minimized or dismissed, and that high-dollar political organizations cannot defeat motivated, educated, active, vocal, smart retired public school employees!

Help us push on this session. If you are not a member of the Texas Retired Teacher Association, please consider joining in our efforts. Membership is $25 per year. Feel free to contact our office at 1.800.880.1650 for membership enrollment information.