- TRTA priority bills voted out of PIFS Committee, now on their way to the House for a vote!
- SB 1356 (the tutor bill) was heard in the Senate Education Committee
- TRTF announces free tutoring hours for TRTA family members
- TRS COLA study bill will be in committee Tuesday, April 13
- CLICK HERE TO THANK LEGISLATORS FOR TRTA ZOOM TO THE CAPITOL
- New WEP bill (HR 2337) filed by Representative Richard Neal
TRTA Priority Bills on Their Way to the Full House!
Today, the House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee met and voted TRTA-supported bills out of committee and on to the full House for action!
The following bills were voted out of committee:
- HB 1585 (Lambert, TRS Sunset Bill)
- HB 2022 (Darby, Provides one-time re-enrollment in TRS-Care for certain participants);
- HB 2109 (Wu, Relating to return-to-work penalties for TRS retirees);
- HB 3207 (Herrero, Relating to return-to-work issues in disaster areas);
- HB 3214 (Capriglione, Relating to a cost-of-living increase for TRS retirees); and
- HB 3507 (Rogers, Relating to a supplemental payment for TRS retirees).
These are ALL TRTA priority bills! Thank you to House PIFS Chair Rafael Anchia and to all PIFS Committee Members: Representatives Tan Parker, Vice Chair; Giovanni Capriglione; Sergio Munoz, Jr.; Mary Ann Perez; Glenn Rogers; Shelby Slawson; Phil Stephenson; and Hubert Vo.
Your dedication to have these bills placed on the agenda, heard in committee, and voted out in such an expeditious manner demonstrates a deep commitment to TRS retirees! Your work is appreciated and heralded by our nearly 100,000 TRTA members!
Now, we push on for action in the full House and then on to the Senate! TRTA members are making a difference.
SB 1356 Update
The Senate Committee on Education met on April 8 and discussed SB 1356 by Sen. Bryan Hughes. SB 1356 is related to tutoring programs for Texas public school students. The bill would enable retired teachers to work through TRTA/TRTF and directly with ISD’s to provide tutoring services.
Last year, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) launched the nation’s first retired teacher tutoring initiative. This program was born out of the pandemic as a way for retirees to earn extra income after school closures and the loss of substitute teaching jobs. Now, the program is leading the way to help students, parents, and schools with enhanced learning options as the state emerges from the difficulties of the pandemic.
SB 1356 will ensure that TRTF and TRTA can work more closely with TEA and our Texas schools so that we can match up our program directly with school districts. TRTA and TRTF are extremely grateful to Senator Hughes, TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie, and TEA Commissioner Mike Morath for working so closely with retired teachers on this bill.
“SB 1356 is a game-changer for the work we are doing with our tutoring initiative,” said Tim Lee, TRTA and TRTF Executive Director. “Right now, it is just not as easy as it should be for retired educators to engage directly with our school districts and provide the tutoring services. SB 1356 is designed to provide more options to the ISDs and allow our retired teachers to partner directly with the school district. It really is a great bill and Texas needs this,” said Lee.
Sen. Larry Taylor described it as a “good deal” and “very valuable,” adding “I’m in full support of this.” Our schools are struggling to meet the needs of students experiencing learning loss. Sen. Taylor also said that now, “it’s all hands on deck . . . they (retired educators) are ready to come back and help.”
TRTA thanks Senator Taylor for adding SB 1356 to his busy committee agenda, and for being so supportive of TRTA and TRTF tutoring efforts since we started our program.
Sen. Paul Bettencourt said he is “behind, behind, behind” the bill, and added “we desperately need people to come back and help with the learning gap we’ve got.” TRTA and TRTF are proud to have strong support from Sen. Bettencourt and we look forward to working with him and all members of the Senate Education Committee as the bill moves through the legislative process.
Tim Lee testified that a major focus of this initiative is to engage with retired Texas teachers and help get them actively involved in tutoring. “We are able to leverage hundreds of thousands of retired teachers,” Lee stated.
The bill was left pending in the Senate Education Committee, and TRTA will keep working with our Senators to move it through the process quickly.
TRTA and TRTF Announce “Thank You” Tutoring Gift!
As a “thank you” to our TRTA members, the TRTA and TRTF boards announced yesterday that they are offering 1,000 hours of free tutoring for public school students who have a TRS retiree in their family!
This announcement is part of a $30,000 joint donation between TRTA and TRTF to provide pre-paid tutoring hours to thank both our members and TRTF tutors.
Now is a great opportunity to try our TRTF online tutoring platform with your student or as a tutor! Learn more about the program at www.trtf.org/tutor.
TRS COLA Study Bill (HB 1732) in Committee Tuesday, April 13
Many of our members may recall that in the 1990s, a Consumer Price Index (CPI) Catch-Up Plan was developed and implemented through four successive sessions of the Legislature (73rd through the 76th). The plan was designed to help retiree annuities “catch up” with rising costs due to inflation. After completion of the plan, the 77th Legislature took additional action to increase state funding to TRS in 2001.
Since 2001, only one permanent COLA was enacted for TRS retirees. In 2013, a 3% COLA (capped at $100 per month) was granted for retirees who had retired by August 31, 2004. Any TRS retiree who retired after that date has never received a raise! Two supplemental payments—also known as thirteenth checks—have been granted. One was paid in 2007 (capped at $2400) and the other in 2019 (capped at $2000).
TRTA knows the CPI catch-up plan laid out a blueprint for what can be accomplished over a phased, planned effort. It is the intent of HB 1732 to institutionalize a process that can ensure periodic reviews of the effect of the economy on the TRS retirees’ pensions and to bring to the attention of the Legislature potential sources of funding.
TRTA supports this bill and we look forward to testifying on it next week in committee.
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We have news coming up soon about the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Last week, Representative Richie Neal filed HR 2337. Tim Lee will update TRTA members about this important bill next week. Stay tuned!