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    Entries in Houston (2)

    Monday
    Oct102016

    Houston’s Plan to Cut Pension Costs in Half Overnight

    Mayor Sylvester Turner is garnering praise for his proposal's comprehensiveness and balance.
    BY  SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

    Earlier this month, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner released his outline for fixing the city's underfunded pension system, an issue that earned the city a credit rating downgrade in March.

    Observers say the plan is the best effort yet at solving a problem that has eluded past city officials. If approved, the proposal would immediately cut Houston's unfunded liability by $3.5 billion -- or nearly in half -- while putting Houston on a path to pay off the rest of its pension debt over the next generation.

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    Friday
    Aug122016

    The Week in Public Finance: Why Some Pensions Are Falling Behind, Stress Testing States and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  AUGUST 12, 2016

    Pollyannaish About Pension Returns

    Houston is fighting a losing battle with its pension system: The unfunded liability between Houston’s three plans totals at least $3.9 billion, up from $212 million in 1992. Meanwhile, pension costs as a percentage of the city’s revenue have doubled since 2000 and were one of the reasons behind a recent credit rating downgrade.

    new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute identifies two main culprits for the funding crisis: Even though the city is now paying its full pension bill, it’s still not enough to chip away at the unfunded liability, and the three plans have assumed investment returns of between 8 and 8.5 percent -- that's higher than the national average and even higher than their own recent experience.

    The report's authors looked at examples of pension changes in other major cities and highlighted potential solutions, including raising the cap on the city’s revenues so it can generate more money for pensions; increasing employee contributions; and reducing cost-of-living payments to retirees. “All of these options would generate different amounts of funding in different time frames,” the report said. "[But] none would likely solve the problem alone.”

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