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November 15, 2016      5:52 PM

Mayor Turner: We are marching to Austin together to pass pension deal

Veteran of the Legislature prepares for one more heavy lift at the Texas Capitol: “It’s not a political plan. It’s a substantive fix…that should trump any of the people who want to play politics with it.”

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner is a man on a mission. The mission: Solvency.  

Surrounded by his financial and legal advisors in his slightly cluttered office on the third floor of Houston City Hall, the Democratic veteran of the Legislature who found ways to be an effective lawmaker under very different Republican Speakers of the Texas House – Tom Craddick and Joe Straus – spoke at length about the details of his plan to fix the city’s pension problems.

It’s a problem that has plagued the city over the course of multiple administrations, weakening the economic powerhouse’s financial stability. And it is not hyperbole to say the City of Houston's pension liabilities are gigantic.

While previous estimates put Houston's pension underfunding at $5.6 billion, Turner's administration pegs it at $7.8 billion. That's because he's using a more realistic rate of investment returns of around 7 percent instead of 8 to 8.5 percent.

After stakeholder groups agreed along with the Houston City Council, the ambitious proposal still faces one more major hurdle: A heavy lift at the Texas Capitol, where lawmakers will have the final say over a plan that Mayor Turner insists must be passed in its current form.

By Scott Braddock

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