HOUSTON - The Texas House on Monday approved the bill to fix Houston’s $8.2 billion pension shortfall after it passed the Senate last week.
It’s a bill the city’s mayor says has said must pass to avoid up to 2,200 layoffs, including police and firefighters.
The outcome is one that police and municipal workers here were happy with, as they’ve supported the bill for months.
Many firefighters have been against it, arguing they’re taking a disproportionate share of cuts to future retirement benefits. But many said today the bill passed here was a step in the right direction.
Members of all three groups filled the House chamber to watch a nearly hour-long debate over Representative Dan Flynn’s bill.
Two big amendments added during the debate drew support and even cheers from the firefighters. One would lower their benefit cuts from $1 billion to the $802 million they agreed on back in October if they provide financial numbers within 5 days of the bill’s effective date. Another would keep current benefits for the 3,200 current retired firefighters, which Flynn said would cost the city $26 million a year.
The House passed the bill with those amendments 112-28.
This vote was the second reading. The bill is expected to pass a third reading, which should happen tomorrow. After that, the bill heads to conference committee, where those amendments could be taken away. If it passes there, it heads to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
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