Voters decide on final leg of Houston’s pension bond referendum

HOUSTON — The city of Houston has been struggling for years to fix its $8.2 billion debt.  Mayor Sylvester Turner's pension bond referendum could help curb that debt, if Tuesday's voters say yes to $1 billion in bonds, as part of his 30-year-payment plan.

"This is an issue that's been plaguing the city for 17 years and hopefully before the night is over, the voters will say yes to the final piece of the pension reform. It will help us to move forward in a financially sound way in the city of Houston," said Turner.

If passed, $750 million would go to the police union pension and $250 million to the municipal employee's plan.

Proponents said the bonds would also supposedly save tax-payers money by lowering the city's annual costs with a lower interest rate.

However, if the referendum is rejected, police and municipal benefits could be in serious jeopardy and more than $150 million could be added to next year's fiscal budget.

"Had this failed, the mayor would've had no choice but to start lay-offs because most of our budget is personnel. He would've had to stop academy class, etc. This is great because we have an academy class starting next week with 75 individuals in it. That means this is going to move forward and we're set for the next 30 years. We're very confident that we're going to be financially sound in the very near future," President Ray Hunt of the Houston Police Officers Union said.