The Blanco County Association of Retired Educators (BCARE) met on July 23rd at the Blanco Methodist Church. District 13 Vice-President Ruth Spear was on hand to preside in the election of officers for the newly formed local unit of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA).
Elected were Ernest Hoffman of Kendalia, president; Mary Nabers of Blanco, first vice-president; Henrietta Smith of Johnson City, second vice-president; Norma Kinchen of Johnson City, secretary; and Cindy Sultemeier of Johnson City, treasurer. The newly elected officers were installed by Ruth Spear and Kathy Elbel, District 13 treasurer.
Ernest Hoffman presided during the balance of the meeting. The following committee heads were named: Legislative, Milton Hawkins of Johnson City; Community Volunteer Service, Mary Ann Hoffman of Kendalia; Retirement Education, Jan Phillips of Johnson City; Informative and Protective Services, Shirley Beck of Blanco; and Member Benefits, Rebecca Howerton and Carolyn Boydston, both of Blanco. The unit is seeking a member volunteer to head the Health Care Committee.
Hoffman introduced the honored guest and day’s speaker, Dora Scott Nichols of Houston, State President of TRTA. Ms. Nichols greeted the Blanco County Association members, newly elected officers and committee chairs. She challenged all present to come together to present a strong united front in seeking appropriate benefits for all retired educational personnel.
Ms. Nichols made a rousing call for all educators and paraprofessional personnel to join TRTA in force to achieve the benefits guaranteed all persons who are retirement system annuitants. TRTA currently has 70,000 members. Ms. Nichols stated that it is the goal of TRTA to reach 100,000 members by next year. She pointed out how important membership is: The more members an organization has, the greater its influence in the Texas Legislature.
Following her address, Hoffman stated that the officers would serve as the committee to develop the unit’s by-laws and asked for additional volunteers. He announced that the next meeting will be on October 29, 2009, at 2:30pm at the First United Methodist Church of Johnson City. He also informed the group that meetings will alternate between the two Methodist church sites. Hoffman then entertained a motion for adjournment.
Legislative Committee Chair Milton Hawkins sends this information to members and prospective members:
“One state issue of concern to BCARE and its Legislative Committee is the status of the supplemental payment recently passed by the Texas Legislature. TRTA has hired the law firm Morgan Lewis to write a legal opinion explaining why eligible TRS retirees and dependants should receive the payment.
”This supplemental payment of up to $500 was part of the state adopted budget. Senate budget negotiators argued that the supplemental payment was not legal, but House budget negotiators stood firm for TRS retirees. The compromise reached allowed for the money to be held until Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott made a definitive decision on the issue. If Attorney General Abbott agrees that the payment is legal, retirees should receive their supplemental payment of up to $500 no later than December 31, 2009.”
Postscript: Retired educators need an automatic cost of living adjustment to their retirement pay. The current situation is ridiculous because retirees have not had a true adjustment in nearly a decade. Receiving an extra bonus does not mean the same as an automatic COLA.
Retired educators and paraprofessionals are encouraged to read the information that can be found on the TRTA website (www.trta.org) and to join the state organization and local unit.
TRTA is not just an organization for classroom teachers. TRTA is an organization for all retired public school or higher education employees who pay into the state retirement system. United and working together, we can make our voices heard in Austin.
Dues for the state organization are $25 per year and local dues are $5 per year. For further assistance, please contact Mary Nabers or Cindy Sultemeier.