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Houston Pension Reform Sails Through Senate

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
Francisco Montes
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Houston is one step closer to avoiding massive cuts to its police and fire departments after the Texas Senate passed the city's pension reform plan on Monday.

In a 25-5 vote, the measure passed easily, and now only must pass through the House before landing on Governor Greg Abbott's desk.

“Today, the Senate approved a locally developed and agreed-to solution that will place the City of Houston on a sustainable financial path,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “I’d like to thank Senator Joan Huffman, the bill’s author, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for their work in moving this forward.”

Turner, who served in the Texas House before becoming mayor, warned his old colleagues last week that he may have to lay off as many as 2,200 city employees — including police and firefighters — if the pension reform bill does not pass.

The plan, which was earlier okayed by Houston City Council, aims to reduce the city's $8.2 billion unfunded pension liability over 30 years and assume a more modest estimate for annual returns on the pension fund.

The House plans to vote on its version of the Houston pension plan on Saturday, where Turner said he expects it to pass.

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