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Greater Houston Partnership White Paper Series Analyzes City Finances

The plan is to present solutions to budget problems in the final paper.

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Lilyanne McClean is with the Greater Houston Partnership's public policy division. She says while revenue continues to increase, the city's growing expenses, especially pensions, are a problem that needs to be addressed.

"We're not saying that the sky is falling, but we are saying that for a number of years – many years now – we have been postponing some important decisions," McClean says. "And we cannot afford to do that any longer."

It's something Houston officials don't necessarily disagree with.

They have lobbied the state Legislature to transfer power over pensions to the city, and Controller Ronald Green has long talked about the need to raise or eliminate the revenue cap, which limits the amount of property taxes the city can take in.

But the GHP doesn't like that approach. McClean says increasing the revenue stream doesn't help the city in the long run.

"What helps the city over time is having an honest conversation about its cash flow, its debt levels and its service needs," she says. "And then figuring out what type of structural changes do we need to make to make sure that Houston can continue to grow."

McClean says the economic development organization plans to present some solutions by the end of the year.

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