When Texas was under Democrat rule, legislators cemented unsustainable retirement benefits into state law at the behest of public-employee unions. This decision prevented local officials from reforming their own employees’ pensions, thrusting the plans of Texas’ largest cities toward insolvency.
Over the years, more than one-dozen municipal retirement systems in seven major metro areas have successfully lobbied the Legislature to have some or all of their pension plans put into state statute. This means key pension plan elements like contribution rates and benefit levels are virtually frozen in state law.
If pension are left unreformed, both taxpayers and public workers will continue to lose as the can gets kicked down the proverbial road. Taxpayers will be hit with colossal property tax increases, while public employees will continue to be promised unreliable and unfunded retirement benefits.
Lawmakers beholden to public-sector unions are ultimately to blame. Their decision to use state laws as an obstacle to reform has prevented local officials from fixing their own pensions, perpetuating an inevitable and unnecessary crisis.
Taxpayers should not pay the price for mistakes made by reckless state lawmakers and greedy government unions. Not only should the legislature refuse to bail out local government pensions, they should restore control and accountability to where it belongs—with locally elected officials.
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