Retired educators from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley braved a scorching sun in Austin this morning for a news conference at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas building. Their message: to highlight how the state needs to step up and increase its share of contributions to provide pension cost-of-living increases and help to lower health-care costs.
The TRS Board on Friday will make a crucial decision on adjusting its “assumed long-term average rate of return for investments” that could have a critical impact on the prospect for cost-of-living increases for pensions. A reduction in projected investment income would make it more difficult to provide any increase in benefits without a significantly higher contribution rate from the state (and/or active employees and school districts.)
Only the Texas Legislature has the authority to change contribution rates and benefits. And while the TRS Board and staff can’t lobby the Legislature–which is against Texas law–they can educate legislators on the needs of retirees.
“We knew we would never become wealthy…but we did expect respect,” said Rita Runnels, a retired educator with Cy-Fair AFT. “We thought that our health care and a fair pension would await us for a lifetime service to the state of Texas and Texas families. We are asking what happened? Why have the state legislators turned their backs on us….The TRS pension has not kept pace with the staggering inflation and health-care increases. Today we are saying, ‘Enough!'”
“We need to respect the teachers and support personnel who have taught our children,” said Judy Bryant, a long-time Texas AFT member and organizer with the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans.
You can help amplify their voices to the TRS Board by sending board members a letter letting them know the state needs to honor its promise to retired educators for pension and health-care plans that provide a dignified living!
We’ll report back on TRS Board action Friday, but send your letter now!