Dem Mayor Reveals City Is Broke

The Mayor of Houston, Texas, said the city is “broke.” Democrat John Whitmire made the stark admission at a recent city council meeting but insisted he was not to blame as it was already in trouble “when I got here.” The fourth most populous city in the United States is running on a deficit of $160 million, and to address the crisis, Mayor Whitmore proposed a 5% cut in all services, including police and fire departments.

The Mayor told councilors that he did not want to make the cuts, but the people of Houston expected him to make tough decisions.

Part of the city’s money problems stem from a long-standing dispute with firefighters, which ended mid-March with a $650 million settlement. The feud dates back to 2017 when contracts came up for renegotiation, but pay agreements could not be reached, creating an impasse that lasted seven years.

Under the new settlement, a temporary 18% pay rise awarded in 2021 was made permanent, and new incentives such as holiday pay and assignment bonuses were guaranteed. Mayor Whitmore said the agreement would bring stability and prevent further potentially expensive legal battles.

When questioned about how the council will address its financial shortfall, Whitmore indicated that tax increases will accompany service cuts. Critics say the crisis was self-made and resulted from overspending masked by federal coronavirus funding under the leadership of previous Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Mr. Turner, who left office in January, claimed he had left the city with a $420 million surplus, but critics say this was a smokescreen. Local columnist Bill King accused Turner of spending vast amounts on failed projects, such as the city’s light rail system, that he describes as “performing horribly.” The system cost the taxpayer $3 billion.

Houston, predominantly led by Democrats, faces financial hardship while the rest of the Lone Star State enjoys economic prosperity. Texas ended 2023 with a $33 billion surplus – more than the annual budget of South Carolina.