Why is a North Texas state representative focusing on public employee pensions in Houston, and why is he ignoring his own outlandish public pension?

Yesterday, State Rep. Dan Flynn (R–Van) took to the pages of the Houston Chronicle to discuss the nuances of Houston’s public employee pension plans. The column was largely a recitation of the facts about public pension systems, with a bit of puffery about how it takes “political courage” to make routine policy changes to the plans. It lacked an identifiable thesis, and was undoubtedly written by a staffer or consultant. The article did not explain why Flynn, the representative for a rural area hundreds of miles away, felt the need to write a special article about pensions in Houston.

More notably, Flynn didn’t acknowledge that he is the recipient of a lucrative state pension himself, and that his pension is the subject of a great deal of deception.

While it is relatively well known that Texas’ part-time state representatives earn a meager salary of just $600 per month (though they can receive much more in per diem compensation), it is less well known that they receive a hefty pension if they serve more than eight years. The pension is based on years of seniority and is issued in proportion to the salary of a full-time state district court judge.

This linkage often causes representatives to valiantly campaign for increasing the salaries of state district court judges. The representatives plead that district judge salaries must be increased in order to maintain a qualified judiciary, never acknowledging that increasing the judges’ salaries will ultimately increase the representatives’ retirement funds.

During the 83rd legislature, there were efforts to remove the link between district judge salaries and legislator pensions. Dan Flynn voted against that reform. When a bloated budget including an increase in legislator pensions was presented to Flynn, he voted in favor of it.

Instead of writing article in Houston about Houston employee pensions, Dan Flynn should be explaining to taxpayers why he has voted to increase his own pension, and why he is hiding behind state district court judges while doing it.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.