About one-dozen locally administered pension plans have some or all of their systems enshrined in state statute, making it difficult for community stakeholders to enact good governance changes at the local level. These systems have, effectively, put up a bureaucratic state barrier to local control.

This issue and the need to restore community oversight was explored more in-depth today in a Houston Chronicle article by TPPF Board Member Windi Grimes. The piece calls on lawmakers to “restore local control of these state-governed pension plans with sweetheart deals.”

More from the article:

Intentional or not, the net effect of freezing these local systems in state statute has been to shut out community leaders and city officials who don't have the right political connections in the Legislature. It has become almost irrelevant that affected communities work and pay taxes to support the retirement systems or that fewer services are available as officials shift scarce city resources from potholes to pensions.

This sweetheart setup is bad policy. Allowing such a great, big roadblock to local control is fraud on our community. It's common sense that people paying taxes into and being affected by a local pension plan should have a clear voice in how the system operates.

Removing these state-governed pension plans from state law is an important policy position to see advanced this session, especially as many of these systems are in need of fiscal reforms. Fortunately, legislators seem to have taken notice and a bill that would restore local pension control—HB 2608—is already making its way through the process.