The TRS Board of Trustees is meeting this week.

An update from Jase Auby, TRS Chief Investment Officer, included the positive news that the pension fund’s financial condition is stable, and in fact the market value of the fund is slightly up (around 1%) for the year. Aubry noted that the U.S. is leading the world in the market recovery, which the investment team attributes to the stimulus packages that have been passed at the federal level. (It should be noted that if TRS does not meet its benchmark return rate of 7.25%, the figures going into the next legislative session will not be positive.)

Open enrollment in TRS-ActiveCare is underway. Employees should take note of the new options available this year: Primary and Primary+. ActiveCare Primary provides lower premium rates for dependents, and utilizes co-pays for office visits and other common events (so that participants don’t have to wait to meet a deductible before benefits kick in). Primary+ is more expensive but has lower deductibles. Both use a statewide network and require approval of a primary care physician for a referral to a specialist. Get details at the TRS website here.

Continuing discussions about the potential expansion of TRS offices into other parts of the state, the staff updated trustees on possibly opening a satellite office in El Paso. As one of the most remote areas of the state this region is considered a priority, and staff have identified a possible location within office space being used by another state agency. Providing better access to retirement counselors was also a recommendation in the Sunset Advisory Commission’s review of TRS.

On July 17, the board will be briefed on the agency’s long-term facilities planning — discussion only, no action expected. In a meeting with TCTA and other education groups prior to the Board meeting, executive director Brian Guthrie noted that negotiations are still taking place on the leased space in downtown Austin that is currently occupied by the Investment Management Division. The COVID-19 epidemic has brought a number of new economic and workplace changes that must be factored in — including larger numbers of employees working from home, even in the long run. So several options are under consideration, including renovating the current TRS offices on Red River to better accommodate not only the current employees housed there but also the investment division. Guthrie’s goal is to have all staff under the same roof within the next few years.