Mayor Sylvester Turner is working all the angles and using all his connections to make sure the City’s pension reform happens this year, but he is also trying to ensure the final version of the bill is the one he deems the best for Houston’s financial future.
Having served in the Texas Legislature since the late 1980s, Turner knows all the nitty gritty strategies to get things done in Austin and a big one is influencing the right people.
“My focus is primarily with the Lieutenant Governor,” the Mayor commented during the customary press conference held after the Wednesday meeting of the City Council.
Turner is talking to Dan Patrick — the leader of the senate — because the pension reform bill is about to go to a conference committee, where it will be shaped towards a final version. The Lieutenant Governor will designate five Senators who will serve on the conference committee.
Speaker Joe Straus, with whom the Mayor is also in contact, will do the same in the House of Representatives.
The members of the conference committee are important because they will decide which amendments remain and which are removed.
So, Turner is letting Patrick and Straus know which amendments he doesn’t want to survive.
The amendment the Mayor sees as the main problem is authored by Representative Dwayne Bohac (Republican-Houston) and would exempt more than 3,000 retired firefighters from benefit cuts.
“It’s the one that has the highest cost. It’s twenty 27 dollars annually and it adds 400 million dollars to the unfunded liability,” noted Turner.
The legislative session ends on May 29th and the Mayor is confident there is enough time for the bill to pass.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been corrected from an earlier version. There is one conference committee, not two. We regret the error.