The first thing voters must know about the one billion dollar pension bond on the November ballot is where the money is going. The money is going to fund the DROP accounts of retired police officers and municipal employees for the City of Houston. This is largest bond in City of Houston history and none of it goes for Harvey relief!
The DROP stands for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan. The Texas Legislature created these accounts in 2001, which allow city police and municipal employees to retire after twenty years without really retiring. DROP allowed employees to accrue the retirement pay while being paid their normal salary in a separate account collecting eight percent interest. It was a pretend retirement. There were several bills that morphed into the system we have now. Mayor Sylvester Turner, as a state representative, carried every one of the bills. This irony should not be lost here. Not one dime of this money goes for any Harvey relief
Most police officers who have been in the system since 2001 have over one million dollars in their DROP accounts. Many officers have several million dollars in their DROP. Understand that this DROP account is in addition to their retirement benefits of 95 percent salary and medical benefits for the rest of their lives. This is why the City of Houston has an eight billion dollar unfunded pension liability and why we are compared to Chicago and Detroit. Voters are now being asked to make millionaires out of city employees.
The bond proceeds are divided between police and municipal employees: 750 million for police and 250 million for municipal employees. Obviously, there are a lot of police officers in the program. This billion dollar bond is just for this group of retiring officers and taxpayers can expect skyrocketing property taxes and more bond proposals in the future.
There is a group within the Republican Party, led by Paul Simpson, promoting this nonsense. Make no mistake, Paul Simpson is a big government establishment Republican, which is the reason the party was crushed in the last election cycle. Paul Simpson is not acting alone and his political consultant, Kevin Shuvalov, is being paid to promote Mayor Sylvester Turner’s billion dollar “kick the can down the road” bond deal. Shuvalov just happens to be a consultant to Joe Straus. You can bet that plenty of funds are fixin’ to flow into Paul Simpson’s coffers from both Sylvester Turner and the unions who are desperate for post-Harvey Republican support for this bond.
Once again, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a longtime recipient of [police] union support, is carrying the water for the pension bond election. Patrick’s political consultant, Allen Blakemore, worked with Turner in 2001 and was the lobbyist for the HPOU at that time. Blakemore facilitated Mayor Sylvester Turner’s billion dollar bond proposal through the Senate long before education and property tax reform went down in flames in the House. Lt. Dan and his consultant have been delivering for the unions since he was first elected to the Texas Senate and this year is no exception. While good people in our community are flooded out of their homes, Patrick, Turner, et al. are trying to make millionaires out of city workers.
Expect to see Lt. Dan (with a special appearance by Senator Joan Huffman and crew) representing recipients of union largesse at Monday night’s Harris County Republican Party’s Executive Committee Meeting. Maybe Sly can ask Lt. Dan about the rainy day fund when he is in town. Lt. Dan can ask the mayor about all the nasty things Turner and the Houston City Council said about the Republicans when Houston filed suit over SB4.
This is being done for the love of money.