MRTA Day at the Capitol!

As you may be aware, MRTA had 15 buses reserved and over 1,000 members who planned to attend the 2017 MRTA Legislative Day to be held February 15th. DUE TO NEW SECURITY MEASURES/METAL DETECTORS instituted on January 9th, our event had to be CANCELED. There was just no way to get 1,000 retirees inside the Capitol without hours of waiting; and nowhere to park 15 buses to keep people out of the cold.

The MRTA legislative leaders from across the state met at the MRTA office Monday, January 23rd.  They decided DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND from MRTA members across the state, we are announcing a much downsized version of MRTA Legislative Day 2017 –  MRTA DAY AT THE CAPITOL!  We hope you can join us.  Details are below.  If you cannot join us, we are still planning on our MRTA Capitol Blitz day as well.  This will be an email and phone call blitz on February 15.  Information on the Capitol Blitz will be available soon.

When – Wednesday, February 15th at 10:30 a.m.  Please remember to allow enough time to park and to enter the Capitol. Getting through security will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the lines. It is just like airport security so dress accordingly and leave purses and other nonessential items in the trunk of your car. Identification is NOT required to enter.

RSVP – You must RSVP to the MRTA office by calling toll free 1-877-366-6782 so we can make sure we have enough material for every one who will be attending.  Please RSVP by February 10th.

Make an Appointment with your Legislators – If you plan to attend, we encourage you to contact your Representative and Senator today to make an appointment to meet with them on February 15. Click here to find your legislators and their contact information.

Parking – There is parking around the Capitol building.  Click here for a map of all public parking lots around the Capitol Complex.

Entering the Building – There are two entrances into the Capitol.  The first is the main entrance on the first floor in the carriage tunnel on the south side of the building.  The second entrance is on the west side of the building, take the stairs to up to the first floor entrance.

Registration – When you arrive, find the MRTA information tables in the first floor Rotunda area.  We will provide you with our “Issues of Interest” which is information on current legislation.  We will also provide you with information on the locations of legislators’ offices.  Please know who your legislators are before you arrive!  Click here to find your legislators.

What to Wear – Wear RED!  Also, to help keep security lines moving please leave purses and other non-essential items in the trunk of your car. Identification is NOT required to enter.

Meals – Meals are on your own.  Lunch will not be provided. Sorry!!!  Click here for a list of restaurants in the downtown area. 

Reimbursement – MRTA will pay mileage of 27.5 cents per mile for cars with 3 or more people.  We want to encourage carpooling.

2017 MRTA LEGISLATIVE DAY FEBRUARY 15th CANCELLED!

2017 MRTA LEGISLATIVE DAY FEBRUARY 15th HAS BEEN CANCELLED!

The decision to cancel MRTA Legislative Day has been made due to increased security measures by the new Administration. These new security measures present complications and logistical problems for getting over 1,000 members through security and into the Capitol building in a timely manner. There are only three entrances with metal detectors with only room inside the Capitol for a small group of people. We cannot ask our members to stand outside in line waiting to go through security for any length of time, particularly if the weather is bad.

To add insult to injury, all materials and meals/equipment must also be screened. We were told NO EXCEPTIONS! Also, the Governor has signed an Executive Order prohibiting gifts such as a chicken lunch to Executive Branch employees. The House and Senate are expected to follow suit very soon. We are so disappointed with the lack of access to the Capitol that is now in place. This would have been our 7th MRTA Legislative Day.

WHAT NOW??

February 15th will be our MRTA Capitol Blitz Day! We are asking every member of MRTA to write, e-mail, or call their State Representative and State Senator on Wednesday, February 15th. Every MRTA member is asked to respond to this “CALL TO ACTION” all on February 15th. We will show our STRENGTH IN NUMBERS through their emails and phone lines. Elected official contact information and information on issues of importance with suggested text will be sent out via e-mail around the first week of February. We are asking everyone to SPREAD THE WORD to fellow retirees. Please call the MRTA office at 1-877-366-6782 to add your e-mail address if we do not have it. Let’s give them some L.I.P. – Loud, Insistent, and Persistent!

MO Public Pension Exemption

Married couples with Missouri adjusted gross income less than $100,000 and single individuals with Missouri adjusted gross income less than $85,000, may deduct up to 100% of their public retirement benefits, to the extent the amounts are included in their federal adjusted gross income.  Click here for MO-A form.

  • The total public pension exemption was limited to $36,976 for each spouse for the 2016 tax year.
  • Married couples with Missouri adjusted gross income greater than $100,000 and single individuals with Missouri adjusted gross income greater than $85,000, may qualify for a partial exemption.
  • There is no age requirement for eligibility.

Visit www.dor.mo.gov for more information regarding eligibility. Or you may contact the Missouri Department of Revenue at (573) 751-3505, email income@dor.mo.gov or consult a tax professional for more information.

December 12th COLA Report

COLA REPORT

REPORT ON DECEMBER 12th PSRS-PEERS BOARD OF TRUSTEE MEETING

The last meeting of the year of the PSRS-PEERS Board of Trustees was held on December 12th in Jefferson City.  Representing MRTA in attendance were MRTA Legislative Chairperson Linda Greeson, Shirley Ross of Lafayette County,  Micheal Stearley of Fredericktown, Warren Solomon of Cole County, and Jim Kreider, Executive Director MRTA.

The first item of business was the return-on-investment as of November 30th.  It is 3.1%.  We were expecting a better return on investment as the stock market reaches near 20,000 points, a record high.

The PSRS-PEERS Board decided on several issues of importance to MRTA. One was the MRTA mailing privilege allowed once a year by PSRS-PEERS since 1984. The Board eliminated this privilege.  This was of great disappointment to MRTA.  This issue was brought up after MRTA voiced our disapproval of the new COLA policy enacted on June 14th.  The new policy eliminates the COLA (0%) if the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is below 2%, above 2% CPI the COLA is 2%. MRTA and our 26,000 members will work hard on future board elections and board appointments in the future.  MRTA must be listened to and respected for what we do in promoting and protecting our educator retirement systems here in Missouri.  This action shows a lack of appreciation for our work. We are PSRS-PEERS’s soldiers on the legislative battlefield.  They have hurt their own army.

The most positive decision was enacting a resolution stating the COLA policy would be reviewed every year versus every four years. MRTA put forth this idea.  MRTA also suggested that the resolution address the reinstatement of the COLA as the priority of the Board versus a contribution reduction for employees and school districts.  This was not brought forward.  This is concerning because the current funding status of the PSRS-PEERs system is now, after the COLA reduction, 84.8% and the suggested actuarial contribution rate now stands at 26%.  That is 13% from the employee and 13% from the school district.  The board voted in September to leave the contribution rate at 29%.  That is 14.5% from the employee and 14.5% from the schools district.  They could have reduced the contribution rate and left the COLA reduction in policy.  PSRS-PEERS Director Steve Yoakum stated at the Board meeting, although not stated in the resolution, that it will be PSRS-PEERS’s priority to reinstate the COLA.

Another positive presentation was the systems’ detailed report on the measures being taken to avoid any cyber security problems.  It is now estimated that each full identity record of an individual is worth $1200 to $1300 on the black market.  PSRS-PEERS stated that in September 2016 they had 3,574,881 attacks on their system data from Korea.  So far the system has protected your data.  Our hat is off to the cyber security team.

Some MRTA members had voiced they wanted the PSRS-PEERS Board members’ e-mail addresses posted on the PSRS-PEERS website.  The Board brought this up.  After quite a bit of discussion, the decision was made not to post the e-mail addresses of elected and appointed board members on the PSRS-PEERS website.  Again, disappointing.  All e-mail to the Board must go through the director or staff first. If you have a comment or want to contact a PSRS-PEERS Board member write Director Steve Yoakum, SYoakum@psrsmo.org.

The meeting was adjourned for a closed session of the board.

MRTA is Thankful for You!

The past year has been tumultuous at MRTA. The year started off with a hard fought legislative session, then came the announcement of a COLAhappy-thanksgiving-background-1024x716 reduction and the battles and victories we have had so far in restoring the COLA. We have a long road ahead in the next year but we have so much to be thankful for. We are thankful we now have over 26,000 members! We are thankful our MRTA leaders have been working so hard throughout the state and have expanded our reach with three new MRTA Units! Most importantly though we are thankful for you!

Thank you for your lifelong dedication to the children of Missouri.

Thank you for your membership in Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel.

Thank you to all who have worked tirelessly to protect the pension benefits of Missouri’s retired education professionals.

Thank you to all who have served your community and our great state through volunteerism.

Thank you to all who volunteered as MRTA leaders throughout the state.

We hope the best for all of you in the coming year and we wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

MRTA Community Service Committee Votes to Focus on Hunger Relief

Mfeeding-missouri-logoRTA’s Community Service Committee’s purpose is to encourage MRTA members to continue their public service by providing and encouraging opportunities to serve their local communities as retired educators. TO SERVE, NOT TO BE SERVED is our motto.

Hunger is a reality for many in Missouri; for this reason, the MRTA Community Service Committee has once again voted to focus on hunger relief as the statewide project. The committee encourages our local units and all MRTA members to participate in food drives, raise awareness of food insecurity, and volunteer at local food banks.

Please visit www.feedingmissouri.org to find about food banks in your area. Help make a difference in the lives of our fellow Missourians!

Are We Strong Enough?

By Linda Greeson, Chairwoman MRTA Legislative Committee

Last week as I was preparing for Thanksgiving and we all have many, many things to be linda-greesonthankful for, I noticed an e-mail that I had printed because it contained so much encouragement for us as retirees. It was titled, “We Will Win This War We Will Not Ever Give Up.” It had been written in May, 2016 by Jim Kreider.

Here we are in November 2016 about to inaugurate a new Governor with unknown outside influences. I believe we are battle hardened for the work and fight that must continue. We must reach out to the “young” retirees for membership in MRTA. They are facing a longer timespan to need their defined benefit pension plan than those of us who are older. We must also reach out to the newly elected officials and begin educating them about our retirement system and the importance of public education for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. Our work is for the future!!

February 15, 2017 will be our Legislative Day at OUR Missouri State Capitol Building. Please mark your calendars today to be present at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. We go to the Capitol to visit with our legislators in February when it is COLD and the weather is unpredictable because that is when bills are being filed and we need to educate OUR legislators about the content and repercussions of some bills. Contact your Region Vice-President about reserving a place on a bus for the Legislative Day trip. The busses deliver you to the front door of the Capitol and pick you up for the trip home. No worries about parking and walking in the COLD. Most bus captains will discuss during the trip, current legislative issues so you will be well prepared when you meet with your legislators. We must ALWAYS do our “homework” before meeting and educating those who represent us.

See you at the Capitol!!

Linda Greeson

Click here for printable version.

We Will Win This War! We Will Not Ever Give Up!

We Will Win This War. We Will Not Ever Give Up!

I was asked, “Why do we fight? There is no way we can beat the billionaires and extremist politicians.” I say, “It is all about the future. It is all about the young. This is why we became educators. This is why we will win this war.”

It seems every year we have to fight for what we have earned in our careers as jimeducators. It seems overwhelming when not one, but two or three billionaires who have political agendas keep targeting us as public pensioners, and public education as a whole. We are tired of the fight. We ask ourselves, “How can we win?” We will win and here is why.

We will never give up on public education, educators, and Missouri children. We will not give up on protecting our earned retirement benefits. We will not give up because many of our children and grandchildren are pursuing a public education to make their lives better and our nation better. We will not give up because many of our children and people we love are now working hard every day to be the best educators possible. We will not give up because we know that our world-class pension benefits attract and retain the world’s best teachers in Missouri classrooms. This is a prolonged battle that we will eventually win.

By ”SHOWING UP” through your MRTA membership and your hard work, the tide will change. Over the past 10 years, we have already celebrated many victories in protecting our pensions and public education. Had we not done so, where would we be today? We already have a reputation of “SHOWING UP” and being effective in the Legislature. We are battle hardened. Our work and our fight continues.

We will win because Millennials are already realizing that a retirement plan and retirement security through a defined benefit plan is a necessity. The defined benefit plan is making a comeback after the super wealthy and political extremists’ pushed for the defined contribution plan, 401(k), which now has been labeled “A Failed Experiment.” Baby Boomers are tired of working only because they do not have enough savings to live a decent life in retirement. Voters and taxpayers will, once again, see the importance of public education to America, to the middle class, to our children and our grandchildren. IF WE WORK AND HOLD THE LINE we will see a new voter who will, once again, vote in favor of these basic American values. We will win! I truly believe this!

NEVER GIVE UP MRTA! Your work is the future.
There is truly STRENGTH IN NUMBERS!
THE WORLD IS RUN BY THOSE WHO SHOW UP!

Jim Kreider
MRTA Executive Director
mrtadirectorkreider@mrta.org

P.S. Be assured! We will not give up on restoring the COLA for all public education retirees!

Click here for a printable version.