Capitol Blitz Day

Tuesday – February 13th is MRTA Capitol Blitz Day. 
It is time to show our STRENGTH IN NUMBERS!  We are asking you to write your State Representative and State Senator on Tuesday,  February 13, MRTA Capitol Blitz Day.

 

Below is suggested verbiage for correspondence to your representative and senator.  Please feel free to use your own language, the more personal the better.  All politics is local!    Click here to see MRTA’s Issues of Importance

 
Copy and paste this suggested verbiage into an email or write your own personal message:
 
Dear Senator XXXX:
 

I am a taxpayer and voter in your district.  I am a retired educator and member of MRTA.  Today you were delivered our 2018 MRTA Issues of Importance by members of MRTA.  I ask you to review them and consider our positions. There are two pieces of legislation I would like you to oppose.  SB 612 (Koenig R-15) and SB 565 (Emery R-31) are voucher type bills which drain tax revenue away from public education in a time of scarce state revenue.

Thank you for your willingness to serve our state.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can answer any questions.  I wish you the very best.

 Sincerely,
 
NAME
ADDRESS
PHONE NUMBER
 

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Dear Representative XXXX:

I am a taxpayer and voter in your district.  I am a retired educator and member of MRTA.  Today you were delivered our 2018 MRTA Issues of Importance by members of MRTA.  I ask you to review them and consider our positions.  There is an important issue I would like you to oppose and that is HB 2247 (Roeber R-34).  This bill expands charter schools statewide and will drain scarce state revenues from public education. The vast majority of our public schools in Missouri do an excellent job and charter schools are not needed.  
 
Thank you for your willingness to serve our state.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can answer any questions.  I wish you the very best.
 
Sincerely,
 
NAME
ADDRESS
PHONE NUMBER

Sinqufield’s Blueprint for Disaster

A Response from Dr. James Sandfort

Recently, the Show-Me Institute launched a rather ambitious agenda for the coming year. Among the areas of focus, one, in particular, caught my attention – Public Pension Reform.

As far as public pension reform is concerned two important words were omitted from the title; “for Disaster.” For every PSRS/PEERS member, retired or active, Show-Me Institute’s 2018 Blueprint is a serious recipe for disaster. The goal is to replace the current defined benefit pension plan (DB) with a defined contribution plan (DC) – as the authors suggest – “think 401(k).”

The Show-Me Institute’s Logic:
*DC plans cannot incur unfunded liability
*DC plans put investment decisions into the employee’s hands
*DC plans are transferable from one job to another

The authors emphasize that DC plans for public employees exist, in some form, across the country. What they fail to mention is that other states have experimented with DC plans, judged them flawed and have returned to DB plans for their public employees; most notably, Connecticut.

Additionally, the authors fail to share that 401(k) plans, according to original proponents, were never intended to replace DB plans – only supplement them. Those who study the 401(k) approach have concluded that a 401(k) account, even when generously funded, rarely provides a secure retirement for the average worker – the 401(k) math used in the 80’s and 90’s didn’t add up. The reality is that a 401(k) plan is not a pension plan at all – it is just another type of savings account.

Although DC plans can be portable and move with the employee – once a member is vested in a DB plan (generally after 5 years) there is no need for portability. Upon retirement a check based on years of work, contributions and investment earnings will be there for the remainder of the retiree’s life. One of PSRS/PEERS’s rationales for the creation of Missouri’s DB plan was to attract and retain qualified teachers. It has done just that!

While a DC plan does place investment decisions into the employee’s hands, what employee has the technical knowledge to make those critical investment decisions or the time for ongoing meetings with various financial advisors discussing the intricacies of fees and commissions, risk analysis, a balanced portfolio and more? Most educators entered the profession to work with students and are quite content having qualified professionals at PSRS/PEERS invest their pension dollars. And why should they not be? PSRS/PEERS has provided a secure retirement for tens of thousands of public school educators for more than seven decades.

The claim that DC plans do not incur unfunded liability for the taxpayer overlooks a key point. Many DB plans that are experiencing difficulty financially are in trouble precisely because those same entities that would be funding DC plans have withheld contributions they were obligated to make to DB plans already in existence. It is wishful thinking to believe that these same entities would meet their commitments any better over the long term to any DC plans they create. Bad faith is bad faith regardless of the system in place!

So why would others want to dismantle PSRS/PEERS when it is functioning as intended? Perhaps it is a matter of political ideology or a case of “pension jealousy.” Or perhaps, more insidiously, they are eyeing the dollars involved and want a piece of the financial action, collecting unnecessary fees and commissions, at educators’ expense. Whatever the reason, that cannot be allowed to happen!

For seventy years, PSRS/PEERS has delivered on its promise without default or interruption. Although the check that PSRS/PEERS retirees have reliably received each month for decades may be viewed by others as something extra; for those who have spent a career in public schools educating young people, it is “deferred compensation” for work already done. For Missouri educators there are no social security checks, no stock options, no golden parachutes and no year-end bonuses – there is only PSRS/PEERS!

From my perspective,

Jim Sandfort, Retired Superintendent
Center for Pension Research

Click here to see 2018 Blueprint for MO – Pension Reform

MRTA Issues of Importance

2018 Legislative Platform

This document will be updated throughout the 2018 Legislative Session.

As of February 6, 2018

MRTA Issues of Importance

PRIORITY #1 – MRTA opposes SB 747 (Emery R-31).  This act provides that statewide elected officials and members of the General Assembly serving for the first time on or after January 1, 2019, shall participate in a 401(k) defined contribution plan instead of the current defined benefit plan (DB). Comment: This does not include educators at this time.  It is only one amendment away if this bill is not stopped. DB plans are a proven better use of tax dollars and provide for better retirement security.

PRIORITY #2 – MRTA supports full funding of the Foundation Formula and opposes the use of public tax dollars for private schools. The Missouri Constitution mandates adequate funding of K-12 education through HB 2 which requires education funding as the second priority of state expenditures.   Comment: Due to several tax cuts enacted by the legislature over the past few years general revenue is expected to be reduced significantly. MRTA asks funding for Public Education be the priority.

PRIORITY #3 – MRTA opposes HB 2247 (Roeber R-34) and SB 618 (Eigel R-23).   This legislation allows for the expansion of charter schools statewide.   Comment: Charter schools take scarce tax revenue from public education. Currently, charter schools are only allowed in Kansas City and St. Louis City. 

 PRIORITY #4 – MRTA opposes HB 2188 (Matthiesen R-70), SB 612 (Koenig R-13), and SB 565 (Emery R-31).  These acts establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program.  Comment: These are voucher schemes which create a new 100% tax credit allowing up to $50 million per year of state revenue to be used for private school tuition and other expenses for students.  This will result in up to $50 million less state revenue for public education per year.  These bills take scarce tax revenue away from public education.

 PRIORITY #5 – MRTA opposes HJR 55 (Shumake R-5). This is a proposed Constitutional Amendment that eliminates the prohibition of public funds for the use of any religious or sectarian educational purposeComment: This allows for public tax dollars to be used for private schools which will take unlimited tax revenue from public education. 

PRIORITY #6 – MRTA supports HB 2184 (Bondon R-56) and SB 586 (Curls D-9). These bills modify provisions relating to the Public school retirement system of Kansas City, MO.   The legislation sets the contribution rates of the employing school districts.  These bills are needed to strengthen the financial health of the system, protecting employee benefits. This legislation will allow for a better opportunity for retirees to be awarded cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).

PRIORITY #7 – MRTA opposes SJR 30 (Koenig R-15). This Constitutional Amendment, if approved by voters, phases out the individual income tax and modifies the state sales tax law.  The state sales tax shall be imposed on sales and services.  This is very bad for retirees very dependent upon services which will be taxed.

 

MRTA Legislative Day – Feb 13, 2018

Please join us for MRTA Legislative Day!

Click here to see MRTA’s 2018 Issues of Importance 

 Click here to see MRTA’s 2018 Legislative Platform

Over 400 Attended the 2017 MRTA Day at the Capitol. The world is run by those who show up!

When – Tuesday, February 13th 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 non-essential items in the trunk of your car. Identification is NOT required to enter.

Cannot Attend Legislative Day? Participate in Capitol Blitz Day! Click here to find out more.

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 everyone who will be attending.  Please RSVP by February 9th.

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 13th. 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 to 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 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 Importance” 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.

1.63% COLA for 2018!

Congratulations, you did it!  The PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees met today to revisit the COLA policy and voted to change the policy.  The Board of Trustees chose to go with Scenario F.  This scenario will start in 2019.  For 2018 you will receive the CPI-U as of June 30, 2017, of 1.63% which means for 2018 you will receive a 1.63% COLA.  This was all possible thanks to the hard work of MRTA and our members.
Scenario F (2% when CPI-U reaches Cumulative 2%)
0% COLA when CPI-U is negative or when CPI-U is between 0%-2% and cumulatively below 2%
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 0%-2% and cumulatively 2% or more
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 2%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%
2% COLA will start on January 1, 2019

MRTA Legislative Committee Sets Tone for 2018

The MRTA Legislative Committee met on August 29th and made plans for their activities in 2018. Among the items discussed was MRTA Legislative Day which will be held on February 13, 2018. The committee also created the 2018 Legislative Platform (see below) which will be presented to the MRTA Board of Directors for final approval at their September 12th meeting.

On August 30th the MRTA Legislative Committee and Unit Legislative Chairs from all over the state attended the 2018 MRTA Legislative Summit at The Millbottom in Jefferson City. In addition to training, they also were treated to a tour of the Missouri State Capitol.

2018 MRTA Legislative Platform – AS PROPOSED

MRTA is independent, non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates.

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE ISSUES OF INTEREST TO MRTA

  1. MRTA will use all available means to restore the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) which the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees has reduced twice in the past six years. MRTA supports the restoration of the COLA to pre-2011 levels for PSRS/PEERS of MO retirees.
  2. MRTA will work to protect the Missouri public pension retirement plans as a defined benefit rather than defined contribution plans.
  3. MRTA supports a Cost-of-Living Adjustment increase (COLA) for the retirees of the PSRS of the City of St. Louis.
  4. MRTA will support the current independent governance and independent decisions in order to protect/maintain the financial integrity of the Boards of Trustees of the following public education retirement systems: PSRS/PEERS Retirement System, PSRS of Kansas City, MO, and PSRS of the City of St. Louis.
  5. MRTA will work to protect/maintain access to healthcare coverage for public school retirees through the school system from which they retired as is mandated by Missouri law requiring the same premium cost and the same coverage as the active public school employees.

 

STATE LEGISLATIVE ISSUES OF INTEREST TO MRTA

  1. MRTA will support “equal and adequate” public school funding through full funding of the foundation formula for all public schools as mandated by the Missouri Constitution.
  2. MRTA will work to protect/maintain the Missouri state income tax exemptions for public education retirees that MRTA was instrumental in obtaining in 2007 (HB444).
  3. MRTA will oppose vouchers, education tax credits, education scholarships, or any other use of tax dollars for nonpublic schools.
  4. MRTA will oppose the statewide expansion of charter schools.
  5. MRTA will oppose any legislation that would reduce school funding such as Taxpayers Bill Of Rights (TABOR).
  6. MRTA supports the current Missouri Teacher Tenure Law (Amendment 3, which would have changed the law, was defeated in 2014).
  7. MRTA will support legislation to increase minimum salaries for teachers and the funding of those increases.
  8. MRTA will oppose state mandated consolidation of public schools that meet state standards.

 

FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE ISSUES OF INTEREST TO MRTA

  1. MRTA will support legislation to repeal/modify the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision)and GPO (Governmental Pension Offset) provisions of Social Security.
  2. MRTA will oppose mandatory Social Security for new educator members of PSRS of Missouri.
  3. MRTA will oppose privatization of Social Security.
  4. MRTA supports affordable healthcare to promote financial security for all.
  5. MRTA will oppose vouchers, education tax credits, education scholarships, or any other use of tax dollars for nonpublic schools.
  6. MRTA will oppose the expansion of charter schools.

 

 

 

 

 

COLA Report – August 28th

MRTA Executive Director Jim Kreider, MRTA Legislative Chair Linda Greeson, and Madison County Unit Legislative Chair Mike Stearley attended the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees Meeting on August 28th. Most of the information was the same as we reported to you in June. The new information presented was regarding the final CPI figure and investment returns. The CPI was 1.63% as of June 30th which would mean no COLA for 2018 unless the policy changes at the next PSRS/PEERS Board meeting. They also reported a 12.5% return on investment for the fiscal year 2016-2017. The 2017-2018 PSRS/PEERS administrative budget has been trimmed about 5% making it the same as 2016-2017 budget and the 2020 building project has been put on hold. All of this is a result of MRTA providing constructive criticism and a push to get a reasonable COLA reinstated. MRTA pushed for the COLA decision to be made in October after all the figures are finalized, rather than in the summer months. PSRS/PEERS has agreed to this request, but the meeting has been rescheduled for November 2nd-3rd. We are hopeful that our work and persistence will pay off with a more reasonable COLA policy. THANKS to all of you for your hard work on this issue. Be proud of MRTA as we are the only association who spoke on your behalf at the August 28th meeting. We are the voice for education retirees. Below are the COLA options currently being studied by the PSRS/PEERS actuaries. Please stay tuned.

COLA Scenarios

Scenario A – Baseline (Current Policy)
0% COLA when CPI-U is below 2%
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 2%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%

Scenario B (Actual CPI-U Between 0%-2%)
0% COLA when CPI-U is negative
Actual CPI-U when CPI-U is between 0%-2%
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 2%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%

Scenario C (2011 Funding Stabilization Policy)
0% COLA when CPI-U is negative
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 0%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%

Scenario D (Pre-2011 COLA Policy)
0% COLA when CPI-U is negative
Actual CPI-U when CPI-U is between 0%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%

Scenario E (1% COLA Between 0%-2%)
0% COLA when CPI-U is negative
1% COLA when CPI-U is between 0%-2%
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 2%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%

Scenario F (2% when CPI-U reaches Cumulative 2%)
0% COLA when CPI-U is negative or when CPI-U is between 0%-2% and cumulatively below 2%
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 0%-2% and cumulatively 2% or more
2% COLA when CPI-U is between 2%-5%
5% COLA when CPI-U is above 5%
2% COLA will start on January 1, 2018

COLA Report

The current Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 1.16%, which means that unless there is a change in COLA policy retirees likely will not get a COLA for 2018. Currently, PSRS/PEERS needs a 7.75% rate of return on their investments to fund the system. The last reported rate of return they are receiving is 8.8%. It is MRTA’s opinion that a policy change is feasible. Below is a copy of the letter MRTA Executive Director Jim Kreider mailed to the Chairman of the PSRS/PEERS Board of Trustees Aaron Zalis and PSRS/PEERS Executive Director Steve Yoakum on May 18, 2017.

PSRS PEERS Letter of Request

The Campaign Against Teacher Pensions Reaches New Heights

The Latest Attack

Rex Sinquefield’s Show-Me Institute has put out a new report called 2017 Blueprint: Moving Missouri Forward.  They call the report “15 policy ideas covering a broad range of issues – from education to healthcare, from public pensions to union reform, and from tax policy to transportation. Together, these policies can move Missouri forward to a brighter future.”  Threats to Missouri Teacher pensions are still very real. Please click here to read the pages of the report regarding Public Pension Reform.

Why Pensions Matter

Meanwhile, the National Public Pension Coalition has put out Why Pensions Matter which PSRS/PEERS Executive Director Steve Yoakum has encouraged every retired educator to read. Please click here to read NPPC – Why Pensions Matter.

 

Extreme Makeover – MRTA Unit Edition

Meeting attendance is a common issue among MRTA Units throughout the state.  The National Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) has developed an activity called Extreme Makeover – MRTA Unit Edition to help inspire great Unit meetings.  Attendees of the 2017 MRTA Unit President Summit participated in this activity, below is a summary of what was discussed.