Brown County Retired Teachers join in Red Letter Campaign
The following was submitted by the Brown County Retired Teachers Association.
BROWN COUNTY RETIRED TEACHERS are joining with other public education retirees across the state, and beyond, to make our voices heard in the legislature through a Red letter campaign. Usually this time of the year the members are converging on the state capitol, all wearing red, to gain the attention of our elected officials, but this year due to COVID, everything is being done by mail and virtually.
The VOICE, the TRTA quarterly newsletter, has all the information a member needs to know to be able to participate in this year's event. It includes two red envelopes, already addressed with the representative and senator from your zip code and two plain pages in the center for retirees to share their story with elected officials. Every member has an individual story to tell, and we encourage everyone to share theirs.
Many Teacher Retirement System annuitants have not seen a Cost Of Living Adjustment in 17 years. Statewide there are about 136,000 retirees (almost 31%) earning less than $1,000 a month in their annuity. Brown County has 977 receiving a TRS annuity totaling about $22.8 million a year coming into the economy of our county. Even with this number of annuitants, BCRTA membership averages about 300 members in the local group, and another 100 joining as at-large members (pay state dues, but not $10 local dues and participating in the local unit.) We urge the at-large to join in the Red Letter Campaign. TRS annuitants are 74% women, and 96% of annuitants do not receive Social Security, including spousal or widower's benefits due to the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision, so maintaining and improving benefits for our members is our mission.
MEMBERSHIP MATTERS: TRTA membership numbers are important as legislators hear from the state legislative committee and you – their constituent. Billy Jack Rankin, who serves on the State Legislative Committee representing TRTA District 15 and as BCRTA Legislative Chair, stated, “If you receive a monthly annuity from TRS, then we need your help to get you a raise in that monthly annuity. Join TRTA today, the legislative voice for retired educators, because numbers influence legislators who can make this happen.” We understand that many cannot visit the capitol in person, but this is the year to make your voice heard! Anyone can join. We have several local businesses that support us each year by joining and becoming an Associate Member (member not receiving a TRS annuity). We list these in our yearly directory, and our members are encouraged to support these businesses. To them we say, THANK YOU!
TRTA members donated 126,131 volunteer hours in 2020 to our county, and 512 books to the children of Brown County. We present two scholarships in May of each year to students attending college to become educators.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: A drive-thru is planned at Heartland Mall on Monday, March 29, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., to mail your red envelopes, pay your dues, and receive your package of M&Ms – because Membership Matters. There will be a mailbox for your stamped envelopes with your written letter inside and a station to pay your dues for 2021-22! State dues are $35 + local dues $10 =$45. To add a little excitement, each retiree that mails their two stamped red envelopes with us will get their name into our bucket for the drawing of a $50 bill later that day. When you drive through the membership drop off, and pay your state/local dues, you will receive your M&Ms, and your name will be entered into another bucket for the drawing of a $50 bill later that day! You could be the lucky one and win both $50 bills! Any local retired educator can direct you to us for more information.