Houston Mayor John Whitmire says city is ‘broke’ after decades of overspending that has stopped them from being able to pay firefighters

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Mayor John Whitmire proposing a 5% cut across the board, except for fire and police departments
  • Tax hikes and increased fees for parking and city services are likely  

The Mayor of Houston says the city is ‘broke’ after overspending for decades. 

Democrat John Whitmire, who was elected in December, gave the bleak warning at a City Hill meeting this week where he proposed a five percent cut across all city spending to alleviate the cash-flow problem. 

‘I think we can all agree that we’re broke,’ Whitmire said, before proposing the planned cuts. 

‘This gives us a chance to discuss the financial picture of this City. It is broken! It was broken when I got here, ‘ he said. 

America’s fourth largest city is spending more money than it’s taking in, leaving it with a $160 million deficit, according to FOX 26 Houston. 

‘We are broke!’ Houston Mayor John Whitmore, who took office in January, issued the warning this week at City Hall 

Experts say the problem has existed for years, but COVID handouts from the federal government helped mask them. 

‘COVID really silenced the conversation because we got so much money from the federal government that we were able to make our budgets work, but really, this problem started 20 years ago, almost a quarter of a century ago, with the pension funds,’ John Diamond, Center for Public Finance Director at Rice University, told KTRK. 

A tax hike through a bond is expected in November. 

‘That’s very likely what we’re looking at, going to the voters this November and saying, “Here’s the plan, here’s what it’s going to cost, and we’re asking you to chip in,”‘City Controller Chris Hollins said

The city has been struggling to make firefighters whole, from meeting its contractual obligation to their pension, to paying backpay and wage hikes that have been promised years ago.

A 5% across the board cut in city services has been proposed, but it will not impact fire and police service

A 5% across the board cut in city services has been proposed, but it will not impact fire and police service

Whitmire’s plan to settle with the first responders will cost taxpayers $650 million for over the next five years. 

‘I don’t like a five percent cut now, but you have to make tough decisions, and folks put me in this position to make tough decisions, and I’m going to do my job,’ Whitmire stated.

The city also gave away some of its revenue to the public transit system that used much of it build a light rail system that’s not making any money. 

Houston's population is growing and is expected to rival Tokyo's with 31 million inhabitants by 2100, if current population trends hold

Houston’s population is growing and is expected to rival Tokyo’s with 31 million inhabitants by 2100, if current population trends hold

MoveBuddha projected what the top ten cities in America will be in 2100 based on current migration patterns.

MoveBuddha projected what the top ten cities in America will be in 2100 based on current migration patterns.

H-town’s money problems come at a time when the rest of the Lone Star State is swimming in cash.

The Republican state, well-known for having no state income tax, saw a nearly $33 billion surplus last year– more than the state budget of South Carolina.

Much of that is due to the hordes of people moving to Texas– with projection saying Dallas could overtake New York as the most populous city in the state by 2100.

If population trends hold, Houston would replace Los Angeles as the second largest city in the US. 

Despite all the newcomers, local leaders haven’t been able to cash in on the new arrivals, like other cities and town. 

Dallas and surrounding suburban cities are expected to be home to nearly 34 million people by the turn of the century-- making it the largest city in the nation

Dallas and surrounding suburban cities are expected to be home to nearly 34 million people by the turn of the century– making it the largest city in the nation

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