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.


  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.



  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.



  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.


March 15 – COLA Panel

The 2017 MRTA Unit President Summit was a great success!  We have received many requests for a follow-up and summary of the COLA Panel section of the day.  This presentation featured three retired superintendents and MRTA Executive Director Jim Kreider summarized the COLA decision made by PSRS/PEERS.  The speakers presented some suggestions on making the system stronger and more responsive to retirees.   The presenters were kind enough to send their basic talking points and we have provided them below, along with a summary from MRTA President-Elect John Pohl.

MRTA Director Jim Kreider – Family Feud COLA Power Point 

John Pohl Summary

Tyler Laney – Notes

Dr. Terry Holder – Notes

Dr. Jim Sandfort – Notes

Articles by Dr. Jim Sandfort Regarding the COLA Decision
Of Beef and Boloney
It is Time to Say Thanks
Play Ball


MRTA Day at the Capitol – A Total Success!

President Sandy Applegate

MRTA President Sandy Applegate, a former math teacher, posed a question to attendees at MRTA Day at the Capitol, “I was told it takes an average of eleven seconds to go through the security checks entering the Capitol. If you have 1,200 MRTA members and it takes each of them eleven seconds to go through security, how long will it take to get them all into the Capitol?” Stay tuned for the answer later in our article. As you know, MRTA Legislative Day was cancelled due to new security measures in place at the Capitol. MRTA started planning our 2017 Legislative Day in February 2016, we did not know then that new security measures would be in place. We planned on 15 buses and 1,200 attendees from all corners of the state for a 10:30 rally. When those security measures were put in place in January, we were left with no choice but to cancel. If you are waiting on the answer to President Applegate’s question it would have taken 3.67 hours to get everyone through security. This does not include all the other people entering the Capitol for other reasons and events. It was just logistically impossible.

MRTA members would not take no as an answer; however, due to popular demand we restructured the event. MRTA Capitol Blitz Day and MRTA Day at the Capitol were born! MRTA Capitol Blitz day was planned for those who could not attend our event at the Capitol. Members emailed, called, and wrote their legislators about the issues important to them and to MRTA. MRTA Day at the Capitol was a scaled down version of MRTA Legislative Day. We hoped for 200 attendees, we got over 400! It was a huge success! Senator Scott Sifton, Senator Gina Walsh, and Representative Steve Cookson addressed the crowd and promised they would work to protect retiree pensions and public education. MRTA members left enthused and legislators left better educated on the issues.

“Showing up” in numbers is the reason for the success of MRTA. We sincerely thank each and every one of you who took the time to participate in these events. There is strength in numbers!

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

MRTA’s Legislative Issues of Importance

Click the following link for a printable version Issues of Importance – End of Session Report – May 12, 2017


KILLED PRIORITY – MRTA opposes SB 228 (Koenig R-15). Establishes a hybrid retirement plan and requires all new members of the plan to participate in the Defined Contribution Plan (DC) for MOSERS, state employees and elected officials.  This does not include educators at this time.  It is only one amendment away if this bill is not stopped.  KILLED!

KILLED – PRIORITY – MRTA opposes SS#2/SCS/SB 313 (Koenig R- 15). These are voucher schemes putting scare tax dollars into private institutions. This legislation will take $50 million from public schools. Passed by the Senate – in the House for Debate.

KILLED – PRIORITY – MRTA opposes SB 141 (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, 2018, shall participate in a 401(k) defined contribution plan instead of the current defined benefit plan.  On Senate calendar for debate.

KILLED – PRIORITY – MRTA opposes HCS/HB 634 (Roeber R-34). This legislation allows charter schools in all first-class counties in the state affecting 70% of Missouri’s population.  Passed by the House on 3/16.  Currently in Senate Committee.

PASSED PRIORITY MRTA supports HB 304 (Pike R- 126) and SB 394 (Romine R-3). This legislation is an MRTA priority and allows pension benefits to “POP UP” after a divorce with the ruling on assets by a court. The bill also allows an extension from 90 days to one year for a retiree to add a beneficiary if remarries. Amended to CCS/HCS/SS/SB62 and PASSED, on Governor’s desk for signature!

PASSED – PRIORITY – MRTA supports HB 305 (Pike R-126) and SB 441 (Hegeman R-12). This legislation is an MRTA priority that closes the “Kelly Services” loophole requiring every retiree and school district statewide to follow the 550 hour Work After Retirement (WAR) law. Amended to CCS/HCS/SS/SB62 and PASSED, on Governor’s desk for signature!

PRIORITY – MRTA supports HB 891 (Cookson R-153).  This legislation mandates a 2% COLA for PSRS/PEERS retirees if the CPI is between 0% and 5%.  If the CPI is over 5% the COLA will be 5%. This mirrors the 2011 PSRS/PEERS Stabilization Policy. No action was taken.

 PRIORITY – MRTA supports HB 755 (Cookson R-153). This legislation allows for the salaries of PSRS-PEERS employees to be public record. Currently, PSRS PEERS is the only system in Missouri where they are not public record. No action was taken.

PRIORITY – MRTA opposes HB 619 (Dogan R-98) and SB 409 (Koenig R-15). This legislation changes and lowers the retirement benefits of active Saint Louis City educators at the same time raising their contributions to the system. This would set an extremely bad precedent for all Defined Benefit Plans in Missouri in that the promise when you were hired could be broken. MRTA proposed a solution which was adopted. Passed.

 PASSED PRIORITY – 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.  The Public School Foundation Formula is currently underfunded by at least $50 million dollars.  This is particularly troublesome for rural schools and inner city schools because a high percentage of their funding comes from the state. Full Funding of the current Formula PASSED, on Governor’s desk for signature!


20 for 2020 – Your Pension is #8 on Rex’s List!

Your Pension is #8 on Rex’s List Are We Strong Enough?

The Show-Me Institute, a think tank funded by Rex Sinquefield, has listed PSRS/PEERS as #8 on its “20 for 2020 An Agenda for Missouri” report. This report lays out their plan to influence legislation in Missouri through 2020. The item regarding PSRS/PEERS reads,

“8. Move Missouri’s Public School Retirement System (PSRS) to a defined-contribution system.”

You may ask, “I already have a defined benefit plan why should I care?” First, this is bad for public education, it will not keep our best teachers in the classroom. More importantly, for you, it means no more contributions from new hires into the current PSRS/PEERS system. No contributions means the system will eventually run out of money. Where does that leave you? The first item to be cut would be 100% of the COLA we all depend on. We MUST fight this type of attack on Missouri pensions. We currently have over 26,000 MRTA members. Are we strong enough to fight Rex’s billions of dollars?

MRTA is a grassroots lobby organization. This means we are effective because we show up en masse at the Capitol on Legislative Day; and, we contact our legislators when an issue arises. We need you to respond to MRTA Calls to Action. We need you to write, call, and/or visit your legislators this year. We need each and every MRTA member to stay involved! We need each and every MRTA member to renew their MRTA membership and to ask someone to join MRTA today!

20 for 2020 complete

The Threats to Your Pension are Real!

Pew Trust and the Laura and John Arnold Trust are in Missouri and they have their sights set on your pension. They have hired three lobbyists who have been actively working in Jefferson City to change Missouri’s educator retirement fund from a Defined Benefit Plan (DB) to a Defined Contribution Plan (DC). We must be vigilant!

Meredith Williams, the Executive Director of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR), was recently quoted as saying, “If Pew and the Arnold Foundation come knocking on your state’s door, offering their so called “objective” assistance in reforming pensions, I hope these experiences in Alabama and Kentucky will be used to show your legislators what is really going on.”

Pew and the Arnold Foundation have been successful in Kentucky, the Kentucky Legislature adopted a cash balance approach in lieu of the DB plan in 2013. Tom Krebs of the Alabama Media Group ( reports that, “The Laura and John Arnold Foundation and their surrogates, including the Pew Charitable Trusts, have tried over the last two years to convert the Retirement Systems of Alabama’s defined benefit approach to a cash balance plan as part of a ‘nationwide crusade against public pension funds.’ The Alabama Legislature seemingly is bound and determined to hand over Alabama’s pension funds of $32 billion to the same Wall Street firms that brought us the financial crisis of 2008.” Krebs goes on to say that the legislature is acting in reliance on, “…volunteered and tainted ‘research reports’ from the Pew Charitable Trusts” among others. This is an attempt, in Krebs’ opinion, “…to gain access to bribes, kickbacks, influence peddling, campaign contributions and pork barrel politics.”

Click here for What to Expect When Pew and the Arnolds Come Calling

Comments from MRTA Executive Director Kreider:

Emboldened after the 2016 elections Michigan lawmakers pushed to move public educators from a DB plan to a DC plan in a lameduck session of the legislature, they were not successful due to policemen and firemen joining forces with educators to oppose the legislation. Are we strong enough to defend our pension system from these types of attacks? The world is run by those who show up! Show up with MRTA!