March 20, 2017      5:38 PM
Houston Mayor Turner faces tough questions from senators over pension plan
“Some are not as comfortable as we would like, but the reality is I can’t think of any other way to fix it,” Turner told the committee this morning. “There is no perfect pension bill.”
That victory lap Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
was perhaps planning to take at Senate State Affairs Committee
this morning felt a whole lot more like a slog, given the opposition mounting
to is efforts to reform Houston’s pension system.
The failure of Houston’s municipal, fire and police
pension plan is oft-told: erroneous actuarial calculations in 2001, underfunded
payments, weak investment returns and, most perplexing, the city borrowing against
its own pension fund for non-pension items. Turner came into office thinking he
faced a $5.6 billion gap; all told, it’s closer to $8.1 billion.
Failure to negotiate a compromise would cost Turner’s
budget an extra $134 million. So, Turner and his staff met faithfully with all
three unions for months to craft a fix. By October, all three unions had agreed
terms that were later blessed by the City Council.
By Kimberly Reeves