Finally, some coverage on the pension issue

I kid, I kid. Like it or not, HERO or not, it’s what this race has been about.


The top candidates for Houston mayor are talking far more about the city’s growing cost of retiree benefits than voters are, which is, in some ways, a testament to the profound challenge presented by the city’s pension burden.

Sure, potholes, policing and parks have all gotten ample focus in the campaign, but when such core political talking points are available, why risk putting voters to sleep with talk of actuarial projections and unfunded liabilities?

In short, because paying the rising pension bill could play a role in preventing the new mayor from funding other items, said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones.

“What the candidates realize, as well as the Houston business elite,” Jones said, “is that if the pension problem is not resolved, it’s going to eat up more and more of the budget, which will mean less money for police, less money for the fire department, less money for parks and libraries.”

The top seven mayoral hopefuls, to varying degrees, acknowledge pension reform is needed but disagree on the details.

You can read the rest for yourself. It’s not anything you haven’t heard before if you’ve been following the campaigns. I don’t know that I have anything to add that I haven’t said before, so I’ll just say that this is a topic that will be discussed in the Mayoral interviews that I am conducting/have conducted. Those will run beginning on Monday.

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3 Responses to Finally, some coverage on the pension issue

  1. Steve Houston says:

    It has been pointed out to me that the city already has “local control” in the form of “Meet & Confer” with both police and municipal employees, only HFD not covered. Despite that fact, Mayor Parker and HFD’s pension trustees did manage to come to an agreement but the state did not pass it, the first time such an event took place, because a handful of people otherwise in favor of local control did not like the terms (the employees paying more of their salaries, the city paying less to the fund).

    The truth of the matter is that most of those proposing terms like “local control” such as that petition being circulated and financed by big money interests, do not want local control, they want TOTAL CONTROL. Some of them believe that contracts don’t matter and want to retroactively lower compensation, others want cuts while paying lip service about finding highly qualified people to work these jobs fewer qualified people are interested in before any cuts are institutes, and some believe that making cuts to future employees or future service by existing employees is acceptable.

    Under Meet & Confer that covers the bulk of employees, the legislature has never said “no” to either benefit increases or cuts so suggestions that the city of Houston doesn’t already have “local control” is false.

  2. Manuel Barrera says:

    Steve it is more the right to plunder so as to hand out contracts to those companies that can only survive at the government trough.

    Welfare for the rich, I don’t like it at all.

  3. Steve Houston says:

    MB, you may be right. Too many are all too willing to believe the lies espoused by groups like the Arnold Foundation and their puppets. Mark Jones should know better too but I suppose he ended up in political science rather than finance for a reason…

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