A bill to increase Houston firefighters’ pension contributions and save the city more than $70 million in pension payments over the next three years fell apart after failing to reach a full vote of the Texas General Assembly before the legislative session ended.
The bill, which passed the House Committee on Pensions on May 7, died in the Calendars Committee.
Under HB 2572, members of the $3.8 billion Houston Firefighters’ Relief & Retirement Fund would have contributed 12% of their salaries to the pension fund, up from the current 9%, over the next three fiscal years, starting July 1. Employer contributions would have decreased to 25.8% of payroll from 33.2% for fiscal year 2016 and reduced to 24% in fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
The contribution changes were part of an agreement signed by HFRRF and Houston Mayor Annise Parker in March, but which required legislative approval.
In exchange for the savings, Ms. Parker had agreed to withdraw her proposal to place future city firefighters in a new pension fund overseen by the city and halt city lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the existing pension fund and the availability of financial information on its members.
When asked about the mayor’s approach after the bill failed to reach a full vote, a spokeswoman for Ms. Parker said, “Nothing has changed from the time we announced the agreement.” She declined to provide additional information.
Todd Clark, the pension fund’s chairman, said in a letter on the fund’s Facebook page that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “may call a special session this summer, but it does not appear that pension issues will be a topic of the call.”