MCRTA group to rally in Austin on March 20

TRTA District 6 Legislative Chairman

What do public school teachers and staff members do when they retire? Many travel, or become substitute teachers. Some volunteer at local food banks, hospitals, nursing homes or libraries. Many join genealogical groups and serve on historical committees for communities and counties. They also like using their time to enjoy grandchildren.

But because of recent attacks on their Defined Benefit pension and the budget shortfall that led legislators to underfund their insurance plan, on March 20 retired teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers and maintenance workers and other staff members will be traveling to Austin for the TRTA Rally Day at the Capitol. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) will sponsor the Rally Day at the State Capitol so that local TRTA Units can visit with their legislators to express their concerns for the 83rd Legislative session.

TRTA wants the legislature to reinstate the one-percent contribution to the TRS-Care health insurance program to help pre-fund the benefit plan, which could prevent massive premium increases for public education retiree who have not seen an increase in their base annuity for 12 years.

TRTA is also asking the 83rd Legislature to increase it’s contribution to the pension trust fund to no less than 6.9-percent in fiscal year 2014 and 7.4-percent in fiscal year 2015. This increased contribution is the first step to help the fund achieve actuarial soundness. Getting the pension fund back to actuarial soundness insures the long-term viability of the defined benefit.

The Teacher Retirement pension fund has for the past 75 years been the best- managed fund in the United States. One in twenty Texans, are invested in TRS. The fund helps generate over 90,000 jobs in Texas and helps bring millions of dollars in revenue for all 254 counties in Texas every year. About 90-percent of Texas school districts do not participate in Social Security. Almost all school retirees depend on their TRS pension as their main source of income in their retirement years.

However, 45-percent of retired teachers receive an annuity of $1,900 a month or less. Many 75+ year-old teacher retirees annuity is less than $1,000 per month because annuities are based on an employee’s best three or five years best salary. There are over 150 retired teachers that are now 100 or more years old.

If you are a retired teacher or school personnel and receive a pension check from TRS, you are encouraged to join TRTA by contacting your Milam County Unit President, Jamie Larson at 512-455-9591. You can also get information about the TRTA Rally Day from Jamie. The MCRTA will be traveling by charter bus.

TRTA members should plan to arrive on the East Side of the Capitol by 8:30 a.m. on March 20 to allow time to go through the security check. You may show your concealed handgun license to get through the security lines faster. Retirees will make their way to the gallery of the House of Representatives and be seated by 9:30 a.m. to be recognized by the House. Retirees will then move to the Senate gallery to be recognized at 10:30 a.m. to be recognized by the Senate.

Local units will then meet with their legislators in pre-arranged meeting rooms at various times during the remainder of the day. MCRTA will be meeting with Senator Charles Schwertner and Representative Marsha Farney.

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2013-02-21 digital edition

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