Yesterday, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) provided an update about some of the work being done to help public education retirees this session. Great solutions are developing for the TRS-Care funding shortfall, and many legislators are looking at ways to provide possible benefit increases to annuitants of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).

Many devoted TRTA members are responding and inquiring about the Texas Senate’s actions that are aimed at increasing retirees’ benefits.

TRTA members who attended our Day at the Capitol event on April 8 will recall the motivating and encouraging words of Sen. Jose Menendez (D – San Antonio). Senator Menendez has been a steadfast supporter of the TRTA legislative agenda, dedicated to meeting with the local units in his district. Senator Menendez is an outspoken proponent of helping retirees receive additional benefit support.

Senator Menendez filed Senate Bill 1991. If passed, the bill would provide a pension increase to over 100,000 TRS retirees. The bill would provide a 3 percent cost-of-living increase (capped at $100 per month) to those retirees who did not receive one last session as a result of Senate Bill 1458. Like its House companion bill mentioned in yesterday’s update, SB 1991 would affect annuitants who retired between September 2004 and August 2013. Menendez has also filed a bill (Senate Bill 1833) that would provide a thirteenth check to TRS annuitants. TRTA fully supports this legislation and looks forward to working with Senator Menendez and his Senate colleagues.

The Chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee, Senator Joan Huffman (R – Houston), and her colleagues are exploring long-term solutions to fund TRS-Care. TRTA greatly appreciates this work, and we have many friends in the Texas Legislature who are making TRS-Care a top priority this session.

TRTA is truly grateful for the support we receive from our legislators. Both the House and the Senate are working with us to resolve TRS-Care’s challenges and ensure our pension fund is protected from groups wanting to diminish the value of our TRS defined benefit plan.

As recently as April 20 during a House Pensions Committee hearing, various anti-pension interests testified that defined benefit pension plans are not sustainable and should be terminated! Even with the passage of SB 1458 in 2013 and an actuarially sound and robust TRS pension fund, defined benefit opponents continue to press legislators to eliminate these valuable and necessary retirement plans!

TRTA continues to be a powerful voice reinforcing the value of our TRS defined benefit plan and its strong actuarial condition! We are making progress in resolving the TRS-Care situation, with an eye on a future that ensures our retirees have access to reasonable health care benefits at an affordable cost.

We cannot do this without the support of our members and the friends we have in the Texas Legislature! This week and the weeks to come will be busy, as TRTA continues to advance your issues and our legislative agenda.

Ten Facts Every TRTA Member Should Know

  • TRTA is represented in the Texas Legislature by a professional lobbyist, Vicki Truitt, who served many years in the Texas House of Representatives and was Chairman of the Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee for several sessions.
  • During FY 2014, TRS earned $19.4 billion in investment earnings for your pension fund.
  • Every $1 in benefits paid by TRS generates $2.34 in economic activity.
  • Over $892 million in state revenues and $342 million in local government revenues were generated by TRS retirement benefit payments in 2014.
  • 1 out of every 20 Texans is a member of TRS.
  • TRS currently has more than 1.4 million participants, growing from 38,000 in 1937.
  • Every legislator in Texas knows someone who is an educator! Our voice is powerful, and best of all, meaningful to those who represent us. Be sure to stay in contact with your elected officials throughout the 84th Legislative Session!
  • TRTA provides a toll-free Legislative Hotline that allows you to call your legislator’s Capitol offices: 1.888.674.3788. Every day is a good day to call and say, “Thank you for your support!”
  • TRTA members gave from their hearts more than 5,585,260 hours of volunteer service in 2014, equivalent to a value of more than $130 million.
  • Retired educators volunteer in schools and promote lifelong learning by providing more than 700,000 books to children through the Children’s Book Project, including 139,438 books last year alone!
  • You are the most important factor in TRTA’s success in the Texas Legislature! Your dedication and motivation to provide quality retirement benefits for your fellow retirees and pre-retirees is what matters the most!

Thank You!

Membership matters! In fact, it is critical! TRTA needs your involvement to protect over 300,000 retirees and 1,000,000 pre-retirees.

Our membership renewal period is now underway. If you have not yet renewed your dues with the only association in Texas that works exclusively to protect and improve retirement benefits for TRS annuitants, you may do so today! Give us a call at 1.800.880.1650 to pay by phone.

Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.

Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.