City of Houston

Mayor Turner Enacts Hiring Freeze, Warning of Mass Layoffs If Pay Parity Passes

The Mayor says that passage of Proposition B, granting firefighters pay parity with police, would nearly double the city’s projected budget shortfall next year.

Turner
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has instituted a hiring freeze across all city departments. That’s pending the outcome of a ballot initiative that would grant firefighters pay parity with police.

The City’s Finance Department estimates that, if Proposition B passes, the resulting raises for firefighters would cost nearly $100 million a year for the next three years — more if City Council approves a proposed pay raise for police. Turner says Houston is already facing a projected $130 million budget shortfall in 2019.  

“You cannot balance the books without a significant reduction in personnel and a disruption to city services,” Turner said and added: “Those are the facts.”

Both Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, and 2015 mayoral candidate Bill King dispute those numbers, saying the mayor is exaggerating the cost of pay parity by tens of millions of dollars. 

Meanwhile, the Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Realty Business Coalition are siding with the mayor. Both business groups have come out against the ballot measure.

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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