Legislative Updates

TRS Board Meets, TRS-Care Crisis Weighs Heavily on Hearts of Retirees

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met on September 22 and 23 for their quarterly meeting. During the meeting, long-time TRTA member and E.L. Galyean award recipient Tom Rogers provided sincere public comment as he spoke about his concerns for the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

Asking if there was any hope for a sustainable health care plan, Mr. Rogers emphasized that the original purpose of the TRS-Care Sustainability Study that was created in the summer of 2012 at the request of the Texas Legislature was stability. 

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Work on WEP Underway! Share Your Story Today!

In July, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (HR 711) was scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee, but received a disappointing setback when groups working on the bill couldn’t come to an agreement on the bill’s provisions.

Representative Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands), the author of the bill and head of Ways and Means, postponed the bill until agreement could be found. Since that time, Brady has been working diligently to enhance and promote HR 711.

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TRS Answers Questions About TRS-Care Changes, Humana Plans Medicare Advantage Seminars

As the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) reported over the summer, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is facing changes including increased deductibles and higher co-pay costs. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met in May and June to arrange and approve these changes in order to prevent a multi-million dollar shortfall before the Texas Legislature convenes in January 2017.

We have received numerous emails and phone calls from concerned TRTA members, and TRS has worked diligently to reply to your questions as comprehensively as possible using these new Frequently Asked Questions pages on their website.

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Local Unit Meetings Beginning, Find Yours Today

One of the best and most rewarding ways to get involved with the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is through our 250-plus local unit chapters. Local units offer opportunities for fellowship and fun, and are a community-driven entry into the world of retirement.

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Details Start to Come Into Focus for Upcoming TRS-Care Changes

Starting Sept. 1, TRS-Care participants will begin paying increased deductibles and out-of-pocket limits. These changes were approved by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to the health care program in a June 16 Board meeting.

TRS-Care serves more than 250,000 retired educators, but its funding has been at a critically low level. Without the assurance that the health care plan would remain solvent through Aug. 2017, the TRS Board of Trustees made changes to save TRS-Care money.

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TRS Board of Trustees Talks Budget, Plans for TRS-Care

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met today, July 29, to discuss TRS-Care and budget requests that will be made to the Texas Legislature later this summer.

TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee provided impassioned public comment, approaching the trustees with heartfelt concern about the looming TRS-Care budget crisis.

Lee stressed that the participants in the retiree health insurance program pay $1.4 billion in revenue to sustain the program annually (35 percent of the program’s total revenue), while the state pays $300 million and school districts pay $150 million per year approximately. The health care plan covers 260,000 lives, and provides a vital, quality retirement benefit.

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TRTA Legislative Committee Meets, Solidifies Plans for 85th Texas Legislature

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s Legislative Committee held meetings throughout July 18-19 to discuss the 2017 Texas Legislature. The committee is comprised of 21 members from the various TRTA districts.

It is the responsibility of the state Legislative Committee to communicate with their local unit counterparts to ensure a cohesive, well-organized lobbying effort throughout the interim and during the legislative session.

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WEP Reform Receives Major Setback in Committee Hearing, Fight for Equal Treatment Continues

The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711) received a major setback in its hearing under the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee today. The bill, which seeks to reform the harmful Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), was scheduled to receive a vote, but was postponed indefinitely due to push back from various public worker organizations.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) expressed his disappointment for the bill’s exemption from the committee meeting. He stated that an agreement could not be formed among advocacy organizations, and that this disagreement is the cause of the bill’s postponement.

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WEP Reform a Difficult Road

Like so many of you, we were disappointed that the help for current retirees may not be as much as we originally believed, certainly not as much as it should be. However, TRTA is right to support this current effort, and I wanted to offer some additional explanation to you before today’s vote.

Many of you have worked on this issue for years, decades even. TRTA pointed out when the WEP originally was passed it was a bludgeon against future retirees. Congress used the proverbial hammer when a scalpel may have been warranted. The issue that WEP was trying to address, that of non-covered Social Security years of employment (referred to as uncovered earnings), was an attempt to address benefit calculation issues with the SS formula. 

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Changes Expected as WEP Repeal Progresses

As you may have read last week, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been visiting Washington D.C. throughout the summer to work for the passage of HR 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act.

Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) introduced the bill to Congress in an effort to provide financial relief to current and future retirees who fall under the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). While HR 711 is not a full repeal of the WEP, it will provide significant financial relief for millions of current and future retirees. 

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