Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Testimony Before the TRS Board Regarding the Shameful Treatment of Texas Public School Employees

When I went to the TRS Board meeting being held at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley last Friday, February 16, I had no intention of testifying before the board.  However, when I walked in and saw the cards for those who wished to testify, I stood for a moment, asking myself, 'How can I NOT?'  
     How could I not testify before the TRS Board about the countless posts from my fellow retired public school employees across the state I have read , emotionally and financially broken by what Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, most of the Texas Senate, and some members of the House chose to do to our healthcare, all while keeping healthcare for all other retired state employees AND retired Texas legislators (aka "The Elected Class") at a $0 premium with a $0 deductible for healthcare and a $50 deductible for prescriptions?   While keeping their far superior insurance and rates completely intact, teachers, bus drivers, nurses, librarians, secretaries, custodians, administrators, classroom aides, social workers, maintenance workers, and cafeteria workers who dedicated our careers, and our lives, to the children of this state  were forced into one high-deductible healthcare plan.  Our deductible was raised from $400 to $1500, and not one cent of our healthcare or prescriptions (except for a list of standard, generic drugs) is covered until we reach the entire $1500.  For married couples, the deductible is $3000 now---not $1500 per person, but $3000.  Until that mark is reached, not one penny of their healthcare or prescription costs are covered.
     And lest anyone think retired public school employees are living in luxury, here is a pension breakdown in a TRS publication I picked up that day at UTRGV:

     When I sat down Friday morning, I feverishly tried to write my testimony; however, the meeting began before I finished, so I had to continue without notes.  It needed to be said, and we need to continue saying it before TRS, before the Texas Legislature, and at the polls!!!
     Here is my testimony.  It starts at 1:25 on the tape and goes until 6:44.
     Click here to see any/all of the three-day TRS Board meeting at UTRGV, including testimony from other retired public school employees who have been affected by the "ERS vs. TRS Injustice."
     What's good for the educator is good for the legislator!

NOTE:  ERS is the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the pension and healthcare system for all other state employees and the Elected Class.  TRS is the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, a misnomer, as it actually handles the pension and healthcare of ALL Texas public school employees.
Chris Ardis retired in May of 2013 following a 29-year teaching career. She now helps companies with business communications and social media and works as a sales coordinator for Tony Roma's and Macaroni Grill. Chris can be reached at  (Photo by Linda Blackwell, McAllen)


  1. Thank you! My friend and I testified at the quarterly TRS Board Meeting, and they did not impress me one bit. They have this planned with the crooks in the mansion on the hill. Are you aware of the six figure raises and yearly raises TRS gave itself? Are you familiar with the London office TRS has set up?

  2. Since London is a world financial center and the TRS office there will have only three employees, this might be a good idea. It will allow for a quicker response to investments in the European markets. The growth in the TRS pension fund shows me that the people running it know what they are doing.

  3. Thank you for speaking up. I can not believe what Austin did to the retired school personnel's insurance while keeping their own cushy insurance. I am ashamed to say that I have voted Republican for over 45 years, but Happy to say I will not do it again. This issue has made me see the light. Republicans or not interested in Public Education except to destroy it. This insurance scam was designed to turn even more people away from the teaching profession. Privatization is the end goal in Education. Everyone will make money but the people who will do the work.

  4. Thank you for speaking up for the rest of us. I, too, have chosen not to take a now un-affordable medication in order to pay the monthly bills. My voice will be heard on election day.

  5. My wife is a stage 4 metastatic breast cancer survivor. We now have to come up with 6000/yr, to keep her alive. She was forced to retire and should not be teaching at all (teachers at Christian school). I also teach and will retire next year. Just where do you think we will get the money to pay what they have imposed on us, because they choose not to properly pay for public education. Oh and by the way, no increase in retirement payment ever? Who does that, anyway.

  6. For some reason, the site is not allowing me to respond to each comment individually, so I will comment on all of them here. :-)

    Diane W.---Really? I DID feel like the BOARD cared. Three members approached me during the break to thank me for going and to let me know they ARE listening (and hopefully more). The board does not get paid.

    Diane and Matt--I need to ask one of our legislators about the London office to get more insight into that. According to the stories I have read online, that office actually opened in 2015?

    Once a Republican--Your comment actually saddened me as I thought about how dramatically things have changed for public education and public education employees from the time I started teaching in the 80s until now. It's disheartening and tragic what so many members of our "ELECTED CLASS" have done to try to destroy both!

    Unknown--You're welcome! We're all in this together!

    Mary--This deeply saddens me as I fear more retired public school employees will die or become seriously ill because of what Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, most of the Texas Senate, and some members of the Texas House have done! PLEASE be careful. Have you tried calling the company that makes that prescription to see if they have a program that will provide it to you at a much lower cost?

    Anonymous--I am so so sorry. May I ask why you must come up with $6000 rather than $3000? I don't know where they think ANY OF US will come up with the money it now costs us for our healthcare, while they are sitting pretty with no premium AND no deductible. Shameful doesn't even begin to describe what they have done!