Pension Issues

Pensions & Voter Guide

KWTP Voters Guide for Nov. 2015 City of Houston and Harris County election

To fix our underfunded Pensions, we need to:

  1. Vote for Bill King – Mayor;
    Bill Frazer – Controller; and
    Councilmembers Dave Martin, Michael Kubosh &  Jack Christie!
  2. Help us fight in the TX Legislature for Houstonians’ Local Control of Pensions in 2017!
  3. Mayor and Council must commit to fully funded, transparent pensions that are honest about returns.

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Why “Meet & Confer” Is NOT Local Control

There has been some (largely purposeful, sowed by the opposition) confusion over local control and meet and confer. 

“Meet and confer” simply means that if the city and pension plans agree on changes to retirement benefits then those changes go to Austin to be implemented by the legislature. The Police and Muni plans have “meet and confer,” but Fire does not. “Meet and confer” falls far short of real local control because the citizens of Houston do not have a say in the process (i.e., the initiative process) and any changes, even for new employees, require the full sign-off of the pension plans (note, this process is currently separate from all other negotiations with each of the employees’ unions). And even in the case of “meet and confer,” any deal between the city and retirement plans still has to go through Austin. In practical terms, all three of Houston’s plans have the same governance structure.

Local control would establish appropriate roles for the city, retirement plans, and the state. Below is a description of what those appropriate roles should be.

  • City – Municipalities should be able to negotiate all aspects of compensation, including retirement benefits, within the same negotiating process, and should be able to implement any changes locally. And city leaders’ decisions should be subject to referendum to allow citizens a voice in the process.
  • State of Texas – The state should set minimum funding requirements, reporting standards, and remedial actions that would occur in the case of mismanagement. The state should not control retirement benefits levels or plan design just as it does not currently dictate other elements of employee compensation.
  • Retirement Plans – Pension boards should simply administer the plan and manage plan assets for the sole benefit of plan members. Retirement plans should not have the authority to negotiate benefit levels or reduced government contributions, and certainly should not lobby the legislature.