Improve TRS Fund and Protect Health Care!

TRTA staff and volunteer members are doing a great job representing you in the Texas Legislature. TRTA is focused on getting our legislative agenda passed this session. Here are some of the key points we focused on this week.

  • TRTA met with 65 legislators in both the Senate and the House, pushing for higher contributions to the TRS pension fund and TRS-Care health insurance program;
  • TRTA is urging the Legislature to increase its contribution to the pension trust fund to no less than 6.9% in FY 2014 and 7.4% in FY 2015;
  • This increased contribution is the first step the Legislature must take to help the fund achieve actuarial soundness;
  • Getting the pension fund back to actuarial soundness ensures the long-term viability of the defined benefit plan, but it is also a requirement to pass a true cost-of-living increase for TRS retirees;
  • TRTA wants the Legislature to increase its contribution to the TRS-Care health insurance program to help pre-fund the benefit plan, which could prevent massive premium increases for public education retirees who have not seen an increase in their base annuity for 12 years.

TRTA is also preparing for committee hearings in the near future. Speaker of the House Joe Straus has named all of the committees. You can see a list of all House committees and their members by clicking here. (Senate committees were named earlier in session. Click here for a list of Senate Committees).

Longtime friend to public education retirees Representative Bill Callegari has been named Chairman of the House Pensions Committee (click here for a complete list of the Pensions Committee members). Chairman Callegari will convene his first Pensions Committee meeting next Monday, February 11 at 2:00 p.m. TRTA will be there to testify.

At least two TRS bills have been assigned to the Pensions committee already. HB 99 by Representative Charles Perry attempts to guarantee funding at least equal to Social Security funding in years that the Legislature may attempt to decrease its contribution to the 6% minimum level. HB 103 by Representative Larry Gonzales is the same bill he filed in the 2011 session, which would allow TRS to provide a supplemental payment to TRS retirees after the fund meets certain conditions.

This bill passed out of the House last session and died in the Senate. Incidentally, if the bill had passed, TRS annuitants would have received a supplemental payment last year under this measure (these bills are not posted for next Monday’s hearing, but TRTA will provide information on when they will be heard in committee).

TRTA is off to a great start. Our membership is working hard to improve TRS and protect our vital retirement programs. Every office we have visited this week commented on hearing from their TRS retirees. Your efforts are having a profound impact. We will continue to work for you every day this legislative session.

We are also reminding legislators that the TRTA Day at the Capitol is March 20. We would love for all of you to attend. Many of our TRTA districts and local units are making travel plans now. If you are not a member of a local unit, we hope you will take this opportunity to learn more about our vast and active local network. Click here to view the websites of TRTA local units across the state.

Thank you for your membership in TRTA. If you are not a member and want more information about joining and being a part of our efforts to protect and improve TRS, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650.