HOPE, the city of Houston’s employee union, has been at the forefront when it comes to the City’s budget battles. Beyond any city committee’s politically expedient budget proposals, HOPE makes suggestions that would actually strengthen the city’s position, rather than just punt the ball to the next budget cycle.
So, it was not a surprise to see Good Jobs Great Houston and HOPE make a strong statement after a city committee made their budget proposals. Here is the organized group’s list:
Good Jobs Great Houston, of which the Houston Organization of Public Employees is a member, held a news conference outside Wednesday’s City Council meeting to get their own ideas out. They claim that some of the ideas they had submitted to the Task Force did not make it onto the draft list. Among the union’s ideas distributed Wednesday:
- Raise the city’s tax rate;
- Establish a higher property tax bracket on homes with a value exceeding $500,000;
- Establish a 1 percent income tax on city residents who make more than $30,000 a year;
- A “blight tax” on foreclosed homes that banks would pay on vacant properties they let deteriorate;
- End the practice of double dipping — remaining on the city payroll while collecting a pension;
- Put a cap of $100,000 a year on annual pensions for new hires;
- Review all outsourced services to see if they can be done more efficiently in house.
There are a lot more, but the Good Job Great Houston and HOPE officials said they want the conversation to include more than what’s already on the Task Force’s 229-item draft list.
The union leaders also pointed out things they don’t like on the draft list: eliminating the property tax homestead exemption for the elderly and providing tax abatements and other incentives to lure biotech companies to Houston. The latter, a Good Jobs Great Houston release states, equates to “tax giveaways for big corporations.”
The responsible thing is to put everything on the table, including our city employees’ ideas.
Heck, I would add a commuter income tax (for those who reside outside of the city limits and use our roads and infrastructure while providing little return to our coffers), too.