TRTA Update, March 15, 2013

TRTA Progress: You Are Making an Impact!

TRTA has some good news to report today! House Pensions Committee Chairman Representative Bill Callegari has posted HB 1383, the bill to increase the state contribution to the TRS pension fund, for a hearing on Monday, March 18. Chairman Callegari had set bills for hearing next week already; but after learning more about the TRTA Day at the Capitol on March 20, he took special action to have this important TRTA-backed legislation added to the schedule!

TRTA thanks Pensions Chairman Callegari for this extra effort, and we look forward to providing testimony on this vital bill. We know that all members attending the TRTA Day at the Capitol will want to thank Chairman Callegari for his actions to help move HB 1383 to next week’s agenda.

HB 1383, authored by Representative Jim Keffer (Eastland), calls on the Legislature to increase the state contribution to the TRS pension trust fund to 6.9% in FY 2014 and 7.4% in FY 2015. This increase in funding, if adopted and actually incorporated into the Legislature’s adopted budget, would help get TRS on the road to actuarial soundness.

It may take more than one legislative session to make up for several years of underfunding, but Representative Keffer’s plan is moving the funding needle more than any other plan coming out of the Legislature thus far.

TRTA is in no way done pushing for more funding for our TRS fund, and we continue to advocate for a pension increase for our TRS retirees!

TRTA members have played a vital role in pushing this issue. In just a little over a week, our members have sent thousands of emails and made as many or more phone calls asking their legislators to support this important initiative.

Joining Representative Keffer and his joint authors (Representatives Bennett Ratliff, Donna Howard, Roberto Alonzo, and Susan King) are 34 other House colleagues! This is tremendous support from our friends in the Texas Legislature. Thank you to all of our members who are helping us advance this important legislation.

To find out if your Representative has co-sponsored HB 1383, click here. Please reach out to your Representatives by calling 1.888.674.3788 to thank them for their support or to ask them to sign on to HB 1383!

TRTA will testify at Monday’s Pensions Committee hearing. We look forward to seeing any and all TRTA members in the area who may want to attend. The meeting is set for Monday at 2:00 p.m. (or upon House adjournment) in room E2.026.

TRS Actuarial Valuation

The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) is required to provide the Legislature with a mid-year valuation during legislative sessions. The “snapshot” valuation takes place on the last day of February, and is used during the remainder of the legislative session for any proposals impacting TRS.

The good news is that your fund managers continue to make solid investment decisions and are enjoying very good market returns. At the end of August 2012, the pension fund’s overall value was just over $111 billion. As of February 28, the fund’s value exceeded $116.3 billion. While the fund value grew on investment returns that exceeded 6.12% during last six months (or an annualized return of over 12.2%), the system continued to realize more of the deferred losses from 2008 and 2009. These deferred losses actually decreased the fund’s overall funded status from 81.9% funded to 81.4%, or an increase of just over $1.3 billion in unfunded liability.

While much of the TRS valuation offers excellent news about the investment strategy and the system’s ability to take advantage of the market returns, the fact is that without increased state funding the pension trust fund will be unable to pay benefits after 2070.

While this may seem like a long time, TRTA is an ardent defender of the TRS defined benefit pension plan. Our core value is to preserve this benefit structure and ensure all current and future TRS retirees that their annuity is protected.

As TRS says, the pension trust fund is in the “forever business.” We must continue to take aggressive legislative action to ensure the state increases funding and defeats ANY attempt to change our defined benefit retirement structure.

Ensuring the fund’s long-term solvency is also our best hope for passing a true cost-of-living increase for TRS retirees. These are mission critical objectives for TRTA.

We know your help and support is making a difference this session. Thank you for all your hard work, phone calls, emails, and your faithful membership in TRTA! If you are not a member of TRTA and are interested in joining in our grassroots advocacy efforts, please contact our membership department at 1.800.880.1650.

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