The Kingsville Tri-City Retired Teachers Association held its first meeting of the 2019-20 membership year Monday, welcoming new and returning members with a special luncheon held at the First Christian Church at 1900 S. Brahma Blvd.

“We are honoring newly retired teachers in the area,” KTC-RTA President Cynthia Hinojosa said.

The organization is a local unit of the Texas Retired Teachers Association, with members who were educators in the State of Texas and are currently living in the Kingsville, Bishop, Ricardo and Riviera city limits.

After lunch, TRTA President Patricia Macias spoke about the 86th Texas Legislative Session and the organization’s “very aggressive agenda” for the session.

“We had several items on our agenda, and we were lucky that we had bills written for all of them,” Macias said. “They didn’t all get through committees, but the big one did, and that one was the ‘13th check.’”

In June, Texas legislators passed Senate Bill 12, which provided a “13th check” of up to $2,000 in supplemental pay for retired teachers to help with the rising cost of retirement expenses, as well as increased the state’s contribution to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, helping to shore up the pension fund.

Macias said while the 13th check is helping a lot of Texas’s retired teachers, not everyone is happy with it as they were pushing for a cost-of-living adjustment.

“We have not had a COLA in so many years,” she said. “But the problem with getting a COLA and a 13th check, because of course we wanted both, was we needed to get our pension fund stable.”

Macias said TRTA’s next task is to make sure “the Legislature, the schools and everyone keep their promise” to raise the pension COLA possibly by the next session.

“That’s our goal,” she said.

District 43 State Representative J.M. Lozano spoke during the luncheon as well. Lozano said his office received “the most phone calls and emails” on TRTA issues.

“There is a lot more work to be done, but it was a significant victory to make the fund actually sound, to get the 13th check. The next session we are going to continue moving the ball forward,” Lozano said.

Also speaking during the meeting were TRTA First Vice-President Leroy Dehaven, TRTA District 2 President Beverly Tackett, Kingsville ISD Superintendent Elida Bera and AMBA representative John Bishop.

In addition, the KTC-RTA recognized H.M. King High School graduate Victoria Garza and Bishop High School graduate Sarah Reyna, who were each awarded $1,000 scholarships.

Both students are currently education majors at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

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