- Click here for the article.
If the Texas Senate gets its way, Houston city officials could have to get voter approval for a plan to partially shore up massive, multi-billion-dollar shortfalls in some of the city’s public pension funds.
The Senate on Wednesday voted 21-10 to give preliminary approval of a bill that would require voters to sign off before cities issue pension obligation bonds, a kind of public debt that infuses retirement funds with lump-sum payments. Issuing $1 billion in those bonds is a linchpin of Houston officials’ proposal to decrease the city’s unfunded pension liabilities that are estimated to be at least $8 billion.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told The Texas Tribune earlier this month that if the bill becomes law and voters reject the $1 billion bond proposition, a delicate and hard-fought plan to curb a growing pension crisis would be shrouded in uncertainty. He also argued that the debt already exists because the city will have to pay it at some point to make good on promises to pension members.
But lawmakers said voters should get to weigh in when cities take on such large amounts of bond debt.