HOUSTON (FOX 26) -
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner isn't sugar coating it -- it's going to be bad.
"Between seventeen-hundred and twenty-two-hundred city employees," said Mayor Turner. "It's almost ten percent of our workforce.” Ten percent gone.
Mayor Turner said that applies to officers, firefighters and other municipal employees. In a display of unity, representatives from the Houston Police Department and the Houston Police Officers Union joined the mayor in a news conference to encourage the legislature to approve the proposed Houston Pension Solution and warned of the consequences of inaction.
“If we don't get pension reform, I want to apologize now because we can't get any more of these fifty-two-hundred officers.”
The City of Houston pension plans have been underfunded for years. The mayor said failure to act would add another $130 million instantly to the deficit. The unions have all agreed to benefit reductions, but the legislature has to sign off on it. It has stalled out and the president of the city's largest police union says he knows who to blame.
"I am a Republican and my fellow Republican and my Senator Paul Bettencourt is gumming up the process.” said Ray Hunt from the HPOU. He also said Bettencourt doesn't like the mayor’s proposal because it's not his own.
But in a FaceTime interview from Austin, Bettencourt said his amendment to the proposal would simply allow the voters to give input toward any reform plan because it's their money.
"That's all the amendment says and I'm shocked that there's so much hostility to the basic American principle which is letting the people vote on a charter amendment in the city they live in,” defended Bettencourt.