They said it couldn't be done; but in Houston, we always get it done. Houstonians came together and achieved historic pension reform, lifting a significant barrier to progress in our city. Our victory on pension reform is substantial. We immediately reduced a debt of $8.2 billion and put in place a responsible plan to pay off the balance over 30 years - just like the mortgage on a house. The plan also requires the city to make the payments in full and on time - just like every Houstonian with a mortgage is required to do - and protects the city from cost increases due to economic downturns.
All that is left is for voters to approve a necessary component of the plan, pension obligation bonds, in November. When I asked to become your mayor, I asked all Houstonians, in a spirit of shared sacrifice, to chip in to solve these problems. Our city workers and retirees did their part by accepting $2.85 billion in reductions to their pension benefits. Now it's time for us to do our part to lift up our families, our neighborhoods and our city!
McGee said that provision, if strictly enforced, would help make the proposal 'one of the better reforms in the country...' '...(T)he good thing about the plan is that cost is now capped, whereas before it wasn't. We're in a fundamentally different situation than we were before.
It's a new idea with great potential to solve a 15-year old problem in Houston. And, if the "corridor" mechanism is airtight and works as intended, it could become a case study for cities across the country.
Indeed, Turner's proposal appears to strike the right amount of give-and-take that's required for all parties to get on board. First, the city is stepping up in terms of accountability, meaning it would be required to make its pension payment annually.
[The pension proposal] offers a clear path toward a sustainable retirement for city workers at a very uncertain time for city finances. I commend Mayor Turner and all stakeholders for their commitment to addressing an urgent problem in a timely manner. The longer we wait to implement a solution to our pension challenge, the more difficult it becomes for the city to succeed in solving it.
The numbers for Mayor Sylvester Turner's pension reform plan generally add up, and the reforms generally move Houston in the right direction. In fact, this pension reform plan should be viewed by other cities as a national model, especially its risk-sharing aspect.
I am very pleased with the Mayor's proposal because it actually includes a structure. It used to be that if the pensions board misestimated the amount they needed, then it just fell on the City and the City was required to pay that amount and that's what's happening in Houston and Dallas. Under the Mayor's plan, there are actually consequences to making bad estimates, and that's going to give the pension review boards as well as the City the proper incentives to make the right assumptions. That's what we need. We need a system that incentivizes the parties to make consistent decisions, not decisions they know are probably off.
"We have to have a fair pension system, both for us and for taxpayers," said Mr. Hunt of the Houston police union.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law on Wednesday a bill aimed at addressing public pension problems in the state's two biggest cities, Dallas and Houston.
Give Mayor Sylvester Turner credit. In less than 18 months, Turner has pulled off what once seemed an impossibly complicated task.
The Texas Legislature on Wednesday approved a pension reform bill for Houston's three pension funds. The measure passed the House by a 103-43 vote on Wednesday, a day after it passed the Senate.