Retired teachers across the state of Texas are making preparations to attend the Texas Retired Teacher Association (TRTA) rally in Austin on Wednesday. The purpose of the rally is to impress upon legislature the importance of continuing funding for teachers’ retirement.
Brown County resident, Nancy Byler will be attending the rally with more than 20 other retired educators, most locally, to fight for teachers benefits.
“There are 20 going in the bus with us, but others will drive down and meet us so they could visit with friends or family there,” said Byler, “we are expected to meet with over 1,000 educators in Austin.”
Once they arrive, the retired teachers will enter the state capital building at 10 a.m. and then have the chance to speak with Senator Troy Fraser at 11 a.m. and State Representative Jim Keffer at 11:30 a.m.
While there, the members of TRTA will try to stress the importance of retirement for teachers and the need for more funding into teachers’ retirement.
“Many retirees are living on next to nothing,” said Byler, “around 95 percent of school educators do not pay into social security, our district does, but many do not, so they do not receive social security.”
The vast majority of public educators chose to forgo Social Security coverage to contribute financially to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas.
The TRS is largest public retirement system in Texas and has been educators retirement system since 1936. The agency services over 1,335,402 participants with a net value in Aug. 2012 of $111 billion according to TRS’s official website. TRS has been severely underfunded in the last several years and is unable to adequately support the number of teachers who are or will be on retirement.
Keffer spoke about the 95 percent of educators not receiving social security while trying to gain support for house bill 1383. This bill has received huge support from educators statewide, including TRTA, as it would increase the state’s contribution to the TRS pension trust fund to 6.9 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 7.4 percent in fiscal year 2015.
TRTA said that if the bill is adopted and incorporated into the Legislature’s budget than the TRS would be on the road to actuarial soundness.
House Pensions Committee Chairman Bill Callegarie posted house bill 1383 for a hearing on March 18. Callegari had already set bills for Monday’s hearing, but in honor of the TRTA rally day at the capitol on Wednesday took special action to move this bill to Monday’s session.