Municipal Pensions

Bill King offers Kudos to Rep. Murphy & Sen. Bettencourt

A Texas-sized Tip of the Hat from Kingwood TEA Party to CM Dave Martin & Michael Kubosh, all the CM who attended , and especially Sen. Paul Bettencourt who fought the Mayor’s and CM Sylvester Turner’s Horrendous Pension Deal for the City of Houston’s Taxpayers!

They didn’t get to have a vote because 2 of Mayor Parker’s supporters walked out to break quorum when they realized the vote would go against her by a large margin.

Thank you for getting Houston’s tremendous pension and debt problems in the public record! Make sure you ask the mayoral candidates what they plan to do about this looming disaster, esp. Mayoral Candidate Sylvester Turner who worked with the Mayor on this TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD PENSION DEAL!

Learn more (audio): 2. 3-13-15 The Amigos 5P by Paul, Ben, & Bruce. Time: 51:10


March 17, 2015

Kudos to Murphy and Bettencourt

In Bill White’s first State of the City speech in 2003, he warned that increases in the City’s pension benefits that were granted in 2001-2002 were much more costly than had been previously estimated and that they could jeopardize the City’s financial stability.

To his credit, Mayor White made pension reform a priority early in his administration, winning significant concessions from the plan that covers police officers and another that covers civilian municipal employees.  He was unsuccessful in making any changes to the plan that covers fire department employees.  Since the reforms White obtained in 2004-2005, there has been no additional progress in reining in the rapidly escalating costs of the City’s pensions.

The principal obstacle to pension reform is that Houston’s pension are mandated by the State Legislature.  In many ways, the plans are the ultimate unfunded mandate.  The Legislature forces Houston taxpayers to pay pension benefits but offers no State assistance to fund those benefits.

That is why it is noteworthy that State Representative Jim Murphy and State Senator Paul Bettencourt have recently introduced bills which would address Houston’s unsustainable pension plans.  Their bills take somewhat different approaches, and both probably need some additional refinement.  But the mere fact that two Houston legislators have finally stepped forward to address this issue is extremely important.  Representative Murphy and Senator Bettencourt should be commended for their courage to begin a serious conversation about this critical issue.

Pension reform is a difficult and emotional issue.  Employees who have given years of service to the City based on the promise of a pension are justifiably alarmed by any discussion that would renege on the promises made to them.  Any reform should protect the benefits current employees have earned.

In Texas, a deal is a deal.

But to continue making promises to new employees that we know will ultimately bankrupt the City and jeopardize the pensions that have promised is simply irresponsible.  Decades ago, the private sector recognized the unsustainability of defined benefit plans and made the transition to defined contribution plans.

Hopefully, Representative Murphy’s and Senator Bettencourt’s colleagues will join them passing legislation that will protect the pensions of current employees and retirees AND recognize that Houston taxpayers are not a bottomless well.

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Support Councilmember Dave Martin for His Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility

Support Dave MartinKingwood TEA Party proudly supports Dave Martin.

He is the most responsive councilmember who has ever represented me. He always returns my calls within a reasonable length of time and I personally know of several constituents he has met with privately. Contrary to the videos you might see on Channel 11, Dave Martin is a man who takes his job to represent every one of us seriously, even when we Kingwood residents are extremely divided over an issue like roads.

Dave Martin was set up for attack just before a contentious roads Town Hall because of Martin’s principled vote against increasing the Firefighters budget not long after Council had approved a larger amount than they asked for–for the 12th year in a row!

Houston will soon have to deal with major pension shortfalls, not because of a lack of faith or effort on the part of the City, but because of the sweetheart pension and benefit deals the union won from the City when the economy was humming along in the late 90′s to early 2000’s.

Now, while the private sector faces unemployment, recession, and sometimes even the impossibility of retirement, this Union insists upon lavish pensions and benefits at the expense of poor and struggling taxpayers who were never represented in those negotiations.

Abundance of Overtime because…the firefighters…went HUNTING!!!

One might wonder what caused this 12th shortfall—after all, it is only February! It was caused by the amount of overtime paid due to understaffing when a large contingent of firefighters went hunting—as their union rules permit. Inexplicably, one of the areas the Firefighters want to cut is the training program that would make more firefighters available. Instead, they are instituting brownouts of equipment and firefighters that will surely endanger Kingwood and Houston residents alike.

They overspent the budget THEY submitted…for the 12th year in a row!

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