The Houston Chronicle continues to discuss the pensions issue that has arisen over public employees pensions throughout this municipal election season. As the astute may recall, I am somewhat dubious as to how big of an imminent crisis this all really is. I have written before that pension reform is often a way to needlessly cut government expenses. Anyways, Mike Morris at the Chronicle continues reporting on this topic.
The article does not introduce very much new information into the topic, briefly outlining the positions on the issue of both Mayor Parker and Ben Hall. Where Morris strikes new ground is in talking with City Councilmember Stephen Costello, who chairs the main fiscal committee. Costello told the Chronicle, on the pension issues, “It’s not the issue of ’30 years from now’. The issue is how we get from here to 30 years from now. That’s the problem we can’t afford.”
Costello then went on to discuss that an ideal solution would be a tax increase or benefit cut. It appears Costello, the moderate Republican, has no aspirations for partisan office with a comment like that…uttering the dreaded “T word.” Costello does mention, however, the possibility of layoffs if neither of the ideal solutions are adhered thereto.
What is most telling, however, is Costello (or Parker) failing to set any sort of timeline on the issue. I would think, then, their intent is to kick the can down the road for two more years, when both of them are out of City Hall. Pensions, it would seem, are just a flashpoint issue in this campaign in an attempt to assuage the concerns of fiscally conservative
voters interest groups & donors.