Tags: city workers, Houston firefighter's pension, Texas budget shortfall
By James Thompson
HOUSTON – According to a Houston Chronicle article, Houston Mayor Annise Parker has mounted an attack on city workers pensions. Firefighters, police officers and municipal employees are the targets in a budget cutting move which follows in the footsteps of the previous Mayor, Bill White. Both White and Parker are Democrats. One of the first things White did when he took office was to slash the city worker’s pensions.
Parker will apparently take her case to the Texas legislature. The Texas legislature should be fertile grounds for her since a “supermajority” of Republicans were elected this last election cycle. Parker maintains that the firefighter pensions are “unsustainable”.
Of course, there is disagreement with the Mayor’s hysteria over worker’s pensions and some maintain that the burden on the city budget is exaggerated.
Firefighters argue that the nature of their job increases the risk of serious medical and health problems and an adequate pension is necessary to compensate the workers for the risks they take to protect the public.
Some maintain that the firefighter’s pension is the last city pension to provide a reasonable retirement.
All of this occurs in the context of the much ballyhooed Texas budget shortfall ($20 billion by some estimates) which will certainly capture the attention of the hysterical GOP supermajority which will seize control in Austin in the next legislative session.
One must wonder if Mayor Parker, while trying to emulate the “Grinch that Stole Christmas”, has considered any alternative to this robbing the poor to pay the rich scheme.
Houston is the home of some of the largest corporations in the world. The city has some of the largest neighborhoods of ultra-wealthy people in the world. The city is full of gigantic banks and mega-churches. All are reaping unprecedented profits in the current economic catastrophe.
Has anyone considered for a moment the possibility of making these corporations, individuals and organizations pay their fair share of taxes? If these parasites on the people were contributing to the good of the city and its workers, there would be no question that the valiant firefighters who risk their lives to save the leeches when their gigantic homes and office buildings are on fire would have a decent retirement.
Has anyone considered how much Texas tax dollars are being spent on slaughtering working people in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as many other places around the world? If these tax dollars were being spent on us, we would not have a budget shortfall.
Has anyone considered that the tax cuts for the wealthy only swell the budget shortfall?
Has anyone considered that the bailouts for corporations and banks only swell the budget shortfall?
Has anyone considered that rising unemployment reduces the tax base and contributes to the budget shortfall?
Perhaps the firefighters should consider reducing their efforts to save the fat cats by the same amount the fat cats reduce their pensions. Perhaps the police officers and city workers should consider such a tactic as well. As their houses burn to the ground, the wealthy might ask themselves “Maybe I should have paid a little more in taxes?”
You get what you pay for is what we have been taught all our lives.