On its current path, the Dallas police and fire pension fund would run out of money in 10 years, leaving thousands of public safety pensioners in the lurch.
Thursday, state lawmakers took a big step toward approving a deal to avoid that. After long, fraught and often tense negotiations, the Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved an agreement to drastically remake the city’s pension system.
The deal includes an infusion of cash from the city, deep cuts in benefits for retired public safety officers, and a new governance system that gives representatives from the city and unions a seat at the table.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he is “100 percent happy” with the agreement.
“To me, the fact that the deal is done and that we’re going to save this pensions fund for our police and fire makes me totally happy, it makes me 100 percent happy,” Rawling says. “Would I have liked to get this or that issue, yes, but those are in the weeds.”
Dallas police officers and firefighters will see their benefits cut by about $1.4 billion over 30 years under this deal.
Rawlings says he hopes other municipalities across Texas will learn from Dallas that the sooner you deal with a pension fund problem, the better.
“Declaring an emergency is a healthy thing, getting people around the table and doing it together is the right approach and governance — governance, governance — making sure you have the right people, not politicians, making financial decisions I think is critical,” Rawlings says.
As of this writing, the bill needs to pass the full Senate and be reconciled with the version the House passed.