The Erath County Association of Retired School Employees recently hosted the District 15 Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Fall Conference. The district covers 18 counties in the heart of the state, spreading from Erath to Sterling to Crockett and Kimble counties. Eighty District 15 TRTA members and guests gathered at the Graham Street Church of Christ Family Center on October 11.
Special guests for the Conference included Patricia Macias, Texas TRTA President; Ray Spivey, Governmental Relations Director for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas; J.D. Sheffield, Texas Representative for District 50; Gary Kafer from Sheffield’s staff and Jacquelyn Hill, staff member for District 72 Representative, Drew Darby.
Macias congratulated District 15 for helping TRTA achieve its goal of 100,000 members this year. She also discussed the importance of TRTA members getting to know the staffs of their Representatives and Senators now, long before the beginning of the 2019 Legislative Session. The major issues in this session will be no increases in health care costs for retirees, a cost of living increase for the first time in over a decade, continuation of the defined benefit pension plan and the stability of the TRS pension system. TRTA members will gather on April 3 for Rally Day at the Capitol.
Spivey shared materials and explained how the recent reduction in the assumed return on the TRS Pension Fund impacts current and future TRS retirees. Current retirees are less likely to receive a cost of living increase in this session, but their pension levels are secure. He gave details on how the system is funded by contributions from current teachers, school districts, and the State. Any change to the defined benefit program would impede TRS’s ability to make long-term investments to ensure the continued growth of the Pension Fund for current and future retired school employees.
Representative Sheffield discussed the current make-up of the Texas Legislature and the importance of representatives working together to do move legislation through the system. A new Speaker of the House of Representatives will be elected, and that person appoints all of the committee chairs, and they in turn, the committee members.