Bill Filed to Address TRS Funding
TRTA Champions Retiree Issues (Action Email Alert Provided)
Quick Access Links for Email Campaign (Complete Update Provided Below):
Click here to send an email to your legislator asking for their support on HB 1383!
This has been a busy week for TRTA! Last week, we made over 65 legislative visits promoting our legislative agenda. Our priorities include more support for the TRS pension trust fund and TRS-Care retiree health insurance program, as well as the preservation of the TRS defined benefit plan. This week, we have visited over 50 legislative offices. TRTA volunteers and staff are pushing YOUR interests every day that the Legislature is in session!
The great news is that long-time TRTA friend and public education retiree supporter Representative Jim Keffer has filed HB 1383. This bill calls on the Legislature to increase the state contribution to the TRS pension fund from 6.4% per biennium to percentages that support what TRS actuaries say is necessary to help the fund reach actuarial soundness.
HB 1383 requires the state to increase its funding by 0.5% in each year of the coming biennium. That means the current FY 2014 biennium contribution would increase to 6.9% (about a $125 million increase) and to 7.4% in FY 2015 (a $250 million increase).
As all TRTA members know, the TRS pension trust fund is not actuarially sound. The pension fund received more than a 6.0% minimum contribution from the Texas Legislature in only 5 of the last 18 years. This legislation is written with our TRS retirees and all TRS active members in mind. It is an important step that would help get the pension system actuarially sound as quickly as possible.
It also addresses the issues raised by the TRS independent actuaries who assert that the TRS pension trust fund is in relatively good financial condition, and that specific funding adjustments can enhance the TRS pension fund’s overall fiscal health.
Representative Keffer worked diligently with TRTA to develop this legislation. TRTA believes that the Legislature needs to move forward with a plan to make the pension fund actuarially sound to protect future retirees and get our members a much needed pension increase!
This plan begins with the recognition that minimum funding levels are not going to solve our challenges. Texas has the lowest contribution of any statewide teacher pension system that does not participate in Social Security, and it has one of the highest overall funding values. However, TRS has an unfunded liability that cannot be amortized in less than 31 years under current funding levels. Until we meet that standard, TRS will not be actuarially sound.
This legislation is a real plan to help make TRS actuarially sound. Representative Keffer is to be commended for working to make a difference NOW!
He cannot do this alone. TRTA must help Representative Keffer get this legislation passed this session. Please support TRTA’s funding initiative with HB 1383!
House Budget Discussions Ongoing
This bill was introduced on the same day that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education met to talk about TRS funding. The House Appropriations Subcommittee is chaired by long-time TRTA friend Representative John Otto. Chairman Otto received testimony from TRS, TRTA, and other interest groups.
TRS testified that the pension fund’s overall value has improved over the last couple of years. The pension fund is much higher than it was during the lows that resulted from the worst moments of the 2008 and 2009 recession. The fund’s low value was around $67 billion just five years ago. TRS reported its fund value now exceeds $114 billion. An official report on the fund’s value will be made next month when TRS takes its actuarial snapshot for the legislative session.
While things are better, the fund still is not actuarially sound. TRTA public testimony urged the House budget writers to put more money into the TRS fund, take the steps necessary to make the pension fund actuarially sound, and provide retirees with a much needed pension increase. TRTA also urged them to provide adequate funding for the TRS-Care health insurance program. This vital health care program is facing serious financial shortfalls in the near future. TRTA asserts that the best course of action is to increase healthcare funding NOW.
TRTA Members Making a Difference
Thank you for your support and membership in TRTA. We are so grateful for your work at home to educate legislators about our key issues. TRTA members deserve to know that their efforts have made a tremendous difference on how the Legislature views your retirement fund. We have made hundreds of legislator visits this session, and are constantly told that TRTA members “in the district” have “already been in touch.” There is no other organization whose membership does more to advance their legislative agenda than TRTA!
Earlier this week, I was in a legislator’s office with our TRTA Legislative Chairman Bill Barnes. While we were there, two other groups of retirees were meeting with the legislator’s staff about TRTA goals and objectives. These members decided to come to Austin on their own and take the TRTA message directly to their legislator! This cooperative level of advocacy is making your voice heard!
Now, we need action. Please take the time to send an email to your legislator asking them to support HB 1383 and push their colleagues to appropriate more money for TRS retirement benefit programs.
Thanks again for your hard work. We appreciate your effort and your membership in TRTA. If you are not a member and would like to join, please contact the TRTA office at 1.800.880.1650 for more information.