Archive for February 28th, 2017

Setting it Straight

If you run into my niece and goddaughter Rachel today, wish her a happy birthday.

What is the official name of our spring training crib?

The State Senate author of the H-Town pension reform bill had an Op-Ed in Sunday’s Chron to set the record straight of sorts. Sen. Joan Huffman is letting folks know she is a major player in this effort. Here is how her Op-Ed starts:

We can all agree that the time has come for real reform to Houston’s public retirement systems. Mayor Sylvester Turner should be commended for his hard work and for bringing everyone to the bargaining table. However, I respectfully disagree with his assertion that giving voters the decision to issue pension obligation bonds (POBs) is a “poison pill” for reform. As to the Chronicle’s accusation (“Pension teamwork” Page A31, Feb. 19) that I am trying to “weigh in from the sidelines” to make some deals of my own: As author of the bill that would allow the city of Houston to reform its public retirement systems, as Chair of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over pensions, and as one of 31 senators who will cast a vote, it is my duty to weigh in on the issue. I disagree with the Chronicle’s implication that the $1 billion bond obligation is too important to be entrusted to the voters.

We know that the bonds are not absolutely necessary to make the economics of the city’s reform plan work. In fact, the mayor has already recognized the possibility that the city would not be able to issue the full promised POB amount: The city’s draft bill language submitted to me already includes a provision that adjusts the “corridor” based on the timing and amount of POBs. (The “corridor” places a cap on future city contributions and requires additional benefit reductions if costs rise above that cap.) Although the POBs proposed do not create new debt, it is important that voters have input, as issuing bonds creates some budget risk for any government entity, and bonds could possibly be ripe for abuse by their issuing authority.

Before the city doubles existing POB obligation, there should be some widespread agreement. Like many of my constituents, I feel that is it prudent and fiscally responsible to provide taxpayers the opportunity to voice their opinion. The bottom line is, even if no POBs are issued, the reform plan still works and is a big step forward for the city of Houston.

Here is the entire Op-Ed: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Huffman-Voter-input-on-city-pension-reform-is-10962434.php.

Ok. Definitely a player!

I am certain some folks are blaming Bill King for the Op-Ed.

Despite what you hear, not everyone is on board on the pension reform deal. Here is part of what the Chron’s Mike Morris put out yesterday:

Houston’s fire pension board has blasted Mayor Sylvester Turner for ending negotiations on the final language of a pension reform bill.

Turner had said at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting that he was making good on earlier hints that the fire pension trustees’ failure to agree to reform terms would see the fund receive deeper benefit cuts than it had tentatively agreed to last fall. Turner said he had instructed legislative attorneys drafting the bill to roughly match the firefighters’ terms to those agreed to by the police pension.

“Our mayor, the former state legislator, has decided to use the insider’s game of the legislative process to pursue his own one-sided plan,” Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund chairman David Keller wrote in a letter to members released late Friday. “If the mayor’s plan for us is the version we last saw or worse, we will absolutely oppose it.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Fire-pension-chair-blasts-Turner-for-ending-talks-10958161.php?t=8ef2417caf438d9cbb&cmpid=twitter-premium.

They better get this fixed.

I am certain some folks are blaming Bill King for causing this dissension.

I kind of find it interesting that the three H-Town pension funds are all represented up in Austin by the same set of lobbyists.

Commentary is not going to say anything about how Kellyanne Cornpone sits on the couch in the Oval Office.

Commentary is also not going to comment on Donald Trump saying President Obama is organizing the protests.

The ‘Stros and the Nationals call the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches their spring training crib of course.

They both open the new facility today.

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