More than 1,000 retired educators met in Austin March 27-28 at the Texas Retired Teachers Association 64th annual convention at the Hilton Austin Hotel.
Following the convention, they spent a day lobbying, discussing the future of their health care and pension plan among other issues.
“We’re working on resolving a health care funding crisis,” TRTA President Nancy Byler said. “The TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is expected to have a shortfall of more than $1 billion by the next biennium unless the Texas Legislature addresses it.
“Our Texas public education retirees live on stagnant incomes and cannot afford huge premium increases,” she said. “We worked with our legislators during the 84th legislative session to craft a temporary solution for TRS-Care in 2015. Now we must continue to be diligent to ensure our retirees are protected for the long-term.”
The convention, titled “TRTA: Teamwork is Key,” focused on retirees, as well as active educators, working together to protect their retirement benefits. Members are not only concerned about skyrocketing health care costs, but also bills filed this session that would eliminate the Teacher Retirement System of Texas traditional defined benefit plan. TRTA does not support changing the plan to a defined contribution or 401K-style plan for current or future retirees.
“TRS is a strong system that provides retirement security for one out of every 20 Texans,” said Tim Lee, TRTA executive director. “TRS is the sole form of retirement income for the vast majority of Texas educators, as 95 percent of school districts in the state do not pay into the federal Social Security program.”
Retirees receive an average $2,000 per month in their monthly annuities, while 32 percent receive $1,000 per month or less.
TRTA hosted a rally on the Capitol’s south steps and an old-fashioned ice cream social March 29 and heard from numerous legislators who came out to speak in support of educators.