Teachers talk strategy

Teachers talk strategy at Cub Center meeting

The Olney Area Retired School Personnel met last week at the Olney Senior Cub Center to learn about a November ballot measure that, if approved by voters, will increase their pension benefits for the first time in two decades.

Rita Choat, president of the local retired teachers, introduced Vicki Dillard, president of District 9 for the Texas Retired Teachers Association who led a discussion about Proposition 9, a ballot measure that will give retired educators a cost-of-living increase in their monthly retirement benefits.

Voters must approve the COLA through a constitutional amendment because of the state’s constitutional spending limit and because the funds for this COLA come from the state general fund, the TRTA said.

Ms. Dillard went over the TRTA’s talking points and encouraged the group to get out and spread the word about the ballot measure, which provides a 2 percent COLA to teachers who retired Sept. 1, 2013, through Aug. 31, 2020, a 4 percent increase to teachers who retired Sept. 1, 2001 through Aug. 31, 2013, and a 6 percent increase to teachers who retired on or before Aug. 31, 2001.

The group wants voters to know that since Sept. 1, 2004, no public school retiree has received a cost-ofliving adjustment to their retirement benefits, and that most retired teachers don’t receive Social Security. The measure will not create a tax increase because the Texas Legislature has already set aside funds for the COLA. The ballot measure is endorsed by the TRTA, she said.

Olney’s former congressman, Rep. Jodey Arrington introduced legislation last week that is designed to ensure public servants subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision receive their fair share of Social Security benefits in retirement.

Millions of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants are losing benefits they worked hard to earn because of an outdated, overly complex, and unfair formula used by the Social Security Administration, he said.

Rep. Arrington’s Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act updates Social Security’s formula in order to fully compensates teachers, firefighters, and police officers for the time they worked in the private sector and the taxes they paid into the system, he said in a statement.

“Every month Congress fails to fix this inequity, retirees and their dependents lose precious resources they need and have earned,” he said.

The measure, if signed into law, will affect more than 200,000 Texas retired public educators and more than 2 million public servants nationwide, according to Tim Lee, executive director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association.

“The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) supports the elimination of both the WEP and Government Pension Offset (GPO), and with it a full restoration of benefits for hundreds of thousands of Texas retired public school employees,” Mr. Lee said.

The WEP was designed by Congress in 1983 to calculate benefits for workers with both Social Security- covered earnings and earnings not subject to Social Security taxes. However, the current method does not accurately account for the entire length of a worker’s work history, Rep. Arrington said.

The Olney Area RSP invites anyone interested to attend our next meeting on November 7 at the Senior Cub Center.