AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas House unanimously (132-0), passed its bill to save the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund.
State Representative Dan Flynn, R-Canton, is chairman of the House Pension Committee.
He led the measure through the House, and after the vote he said this is about helping the ten thousand police officers and firefighters and their families.
“We’re going to protect them,” said Rep. Flynn. “We have an obligation to do that I believe.”
The House will give final passage on Thursday, but State Representative Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas told House members she plans to introduce amendments to the bill in time for Thursday’s vote.
While she supported the bill during Wednesday evening’s vote, she told me earlier in the day, “I think it’s important that we also look for ways to make it better and make sure we vetted it properly.”
Davis’ amendments were not available online Wednesday evening.
She told CBS11 earlier Wednesday if her proposed changes fail, she will still vote for the bill.
The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund praised Wednesday’s action and issued this statement:
By supporting HB 3158, as approved by the House Pensions Committee, the legislators helped strengthen public safety while fulfilling the commitment to Dallas police and firefighters.
After the bill clears the House, it will go to the Senate, where Rep. Flynn says he expects lawmakers there to pass the legislation as is.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings opposed the bill, saying it would cost city taxpayers too much money. He issued the following statement.
Today, Texas House members delivered a brutal and unprecedented blow to Dallas taxpayers. I’m disappointed but not surprised that the House is poised to pass the Flynn Dallas taxpayer bailout package. It’s particularly disheartening that so many elected officials are playing politics rather than doing what is best for the city, including our police officers and firefighters. I have nothing but respect and admiration for our police officers and firefighters, which is why I’ve been working to save the Dallas Police & Fire Pension Fund for most of my time as mayor. I will continue to do so.
“This is not a bailout,” said Rep. Flynn. “This is a responsibility and it’s always been the taxpayers’ money so we’re not asking them to do anything else but to own up to their responsibility.”
The pension fund has a nearly $8 billion shortfall.
Police officers and firefighters have argued they’re making big sacrifices by contributing more to their pensions, agreeing to a higher retirement age (58), and receiving lower benefits.