Houston Mayoral Candidates Face Off In Debate Before Election Day

The central disagreement between Bill King and Sylvester Turner is how to deal with the city’s looming budget crisis.


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Bill King and Sylvester Turner debated an array of topics, including the big three – city finances, infrastructure and public safety, but also high-speed rail and the possible reintroduction of an equal rights ordinance.

King and Turner agreed on several issues but expectedly butted heads on how to address the city's budget woes.

King accused Turner of wanting to raise taxes.

"I've heard Sylvester say in at least 70 forums that he's going to propose to modify the property tax cap," King said. "And I don't know what that means other than raising taxes. The 2006 example he gives, we raise property taxes $90 million."

Turner rejected the notion that he wants to raise taxes. He said raising the revenue cap could help pay for more police officers and address the service gap for low-income neighborhoods.

But he pointed out that the mayor and city council don't have the authority to change the cap, only the voters.

King said the way to a balanced budget is pension reform. He wants to create a 401(k) style retirement savings plan for city employees.

It's something police and fire unions oppose. Turner said that's a problem.

"The rhetoric that Bill has put out has been so, so hostile between law enforcement and police," he said. "It's important in this critical time for the relationship between the mayor and law enforcement being sound and positive and (that) they operate on the same page."

King said if the city can't get rising pension costs under control, it will affect all city services.

Houston Matters is hosting an hour-long discussion with the two candidates on Tuesday at noon on News 88.7, you can also watch it on TV 8 at 7 p.m.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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