AUSTIN — Fifteen members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association’s District XV were just part of the 1,000 members who travelled to Austin Wednesday to take part in the TRTA Rally Day. 

“We have been vocal enough that our legislature has been listening,” said Nancy Byler, TRTA District XV president. “This year, you can definitely feel the difference in attitudes.”

TRTA Rally Day is held in odd-numbered years during the legislative session in which retirees wear red to help bring attention to the issues that face retirees.

“The two main issues facing TRTA members is the state’s contributions into the TRS [Texas Retirement System] and a cost of living increase,” said Bill Barnes, TRTA State Legislative Committee member. 

“Rep. [Jim] Keffer’s bill [H.B. 1383] will increase the state’s contributions to 7.4 percent.”

Currently, the state’s contribution is at six percent, the minimum required by the Texas constitution, and members of the TRTA haven’t received a cost of living increase since 2001.

“Of all the retired teachers, 80 to 85 percent of them do not receive Social Security benefits,” Barnes said. “They strictly rely on their pension.”

TRS is funded by the state’s contributions, contributions made by active teachers — who at least match the state’s contributions — and investments, Barnes said.  

After visiting the Texas House of Representatives and the Senate, District XV members spoke with local officials to stress the importance of supporting H.B. 1383 and the TRTA.

“I’m overjoyed that I went,” Fred Tucker from Eastland said. “I think we did a good job and our representatives have done a good job.”

Members from District XV making the trip included Fred Tucker, Billy Jack Rankin, Edmund Wade, Beth Goodson, Lou Jagger, Sue Tabor, Betty Beyer, Jeanette Chesser, Pat Locks, Barbara Rogers, Martha Griffin, Shannon Caughron, Lynn Granzin and Mary Etta Kuapil. 

“It’s your retirement,” Byler said. “By working together, we can all make a difference. I invite every retired teacher to come to a meeting and see what we do.” 

TRTA will hold its next meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, April 1 at the Brownwood ISD Administration office.

“Any public school retiree, whether they were a teacher, janitor or office staff, is welcome to join us,” Byler said.