TRTA Update May 12, 2011 “A Good Day for TRTA”

TRTA Members Make a Difference
TRS Language Adopted in Senate, HB 3542 and HB 2120 Move to Third Reading
TRTA members have done a great job educating and encouraging their legislators to vote on these critical bills. The actions taken earlier this week and today have helped advance the TRTA agenda to protect retiree benefits and develop opportunities to help retired public education employees.
The Texas Senate passed SB 1671 earlier this week. This measure included a number of TRS related provisions, but it also included what many have come to know as the “Duncan Plan” to protect TRS and TRS-Care funding in the coming biennium. Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) developed a plan, with the help and support of many other state senators, that restores funding to the pension trust fund and the TRS-Care health insurance program. This plan adjusts the state funding levels to a higher level than what is currently proposed by the Texas House. This legislation, along with the more favorable language in the Senate version of the state budget, will restore over $235 million in TRS funding. The most significant component of the “Duncan Plan” for TRS retirees is that it is designed to help prevent TRS-Care premiums from increasing in the coming biennium. This legislation now moves to the Texas House and the budget is presently being negotiated.
TRTA thanks Senator Robert Duncan and the members of the Texas Senate for working on a plan to help restore funding to the TRS and control TRS-Care premium costs. If you want to thank your senator and ask for their support for Chairman Duncan in these ongoing negotiations, please click here.
House Update
Earlier this evening (May 12, 2011) the House considered HB 3542 and HB 2120 for passage from “second reading” to “third reading.” Today is the last day for bills to be considered on second reading and moved through the process to third reading. TRTA members have sent thousands of emails and made thousands of phone calls asking the House to consider these bills before time expired leaving the bills ineligible.
Those emails and phone calls have paid off! The House voted favorably on both HB 3542 and HB 2120. TRTA wants to thank Representative Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) and Representative Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) for their hard work and leadership on these bills. A summary of each bill is provided by clicking here.
TRTA members can contact their representative and thank him/her, as it was with the FULL House support that BOTH bills were adopted and moved to third reading!! Hopefully, the bills will see final House action in the next day or two and will then move to the Senate for consideration.
Please click here if you want to send an email thanking your Representative for his/her support and to ask him/her to finish the job and send HB 3542 and HB 2120 to the Senate for consideration.
House Fiscal Matters Bills
Many TRTA members have also been working to gain support for language to change a bad provision in the House fiscal matters bills that would have permanently reduced TRS-Care funding. TRTA learned earlier this week that House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts was in full support of changing the “permanent” provision to a “temporary” provision. TRTA had also been working with Representative Lance Gooden and Representative Mike Villarreal on this important change. While it was agreed that this provision would be changed so that any change would be temporary, the House fiscal matters bills have been so delayed that the use of these bills may not be possible. The good news is that the Senate has adopted their fiscal matters bills, and in them is the “Duncan Plan” protecting TRS and TRS-Care.
The budget negotiations are moving forward and we will keep you posted on all these major events in the final weeks of session.
Please know that your help is making a big difference. If you are not a member but would like to join TRTA in our efforts to protect your pension benefits, please contact our office at 1.800.880.1650 and we will be happy to help answer any questions you may have about joining TRTA.

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