HOUSTON (FOX 26) - From rebuilding after Harvey to the challenges facing the Houston Independent School District, about 1600 gathered at Hilton Americas in Downtown Houston for Mayor Sylvester Turner’s annual State of the City address.
The event is put on by the Greater Houston Partnership.
“Houston is strong and Houston is resilient and Houston is open for business,” said Turner a few times during his remarks.
He began his speech talking about Harvey recovery and plans to mitigate flooding in the future.
“Houston is bouncing back. We are not where we need to be. We continue to push for federal funding for flood mitigation projects and more affordable and available housing,” he added.
He mentioned changes to a city ordinance around new construction and flood prevention.
The mayor said, despite having a full plate, he was committing himself to help turn around the failing HISD schools.
“The state’s failure to address school finance reform and the failure past superintendents and board of trustees to improve neighborhood schools have done a disservice to thousands of our children,” he said.
Turner added he is meeting with business leaders to explore the possibility of creating a nonprofit to save the schools. He says the model would be similar to what Los Angeles did about a decade ago.
“The [Los Angeles] mayor went through a nonprofit and it was primarily funded through the philanthropic community,” he explained.
The mayor also brought up the need for more police officers due to the city’s population growth and the number of events happening in Houston.
“As a comparison, Chicago has nearly 13,000 police officers covering 275 square miles. The city of Houston has 5,100 police officers covering 640 square miles and almost one third of those officers are eligible to retire today,” he pointed out.
In a few days, Turner said he will present Houston City Council with a budget for 2019. He says it will close $114 million gap without lay-offs.