Pension Victory: Lifting Up Houston
They said it couldn’t be done; but in Houston, we always get it done. Houstonians came together and achieved historic pension reform, lifting one of two significant barriers to progress in our city.
For 16 years, our ability to invest in our city – in our families, our neighborhoods and our communities – has slowly been crushed by a looming pension debt and an arbitrary cap on property tax revenue that continues to prevent us from making critical investments to keep our city growing and thriving.
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.
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, the rest of us must do our part to protect and preserve the promise of Houston for our kids – and for their kids and beyond. It’s time to lift the final barrier to our progress by lifting the revenue cap. Our city has lost an estimated $220 million in revenue over the last three years because of the cap, while saving less than $30 per year for someone owning a $200,000 home.
I’m serious about making our government more efficient. This year, we closed a $130 million budget gap without raising taxes. Let’s manage our finances responsibly and lift up our city. We can do both. We must do both.