Houston Democrat Mayor John Whitmire Declares City is ‘Broke’

Houston Mayor John Whitmire admitted last week that the city is "broke."
Houston Mayor John Whitmire admitted last week that the city is “broke.” (KRIV-TV / screen shot)

Democrat Mayor John Whitmire delivered a sobering message to the citizens of Houston, declaring that the city is “broke.”

I think we can all agree on that, we are broke. This gives us a chance to discuss the financial picture of this City. It is broken! It was broken when I got here,” Whitmire claimed according to FOX 26.

Houston, the fourth-most populous city in the United States and seventh in North America, has a history of predominantly Democratic leadership, with only two Republican mayors since its founding in 1837.

Now, facing an estimated current deficit of at least $160 million, Whitmire is proposing a 5% across-the-board cut to all aspects of city government, excluding essential services like firefighters and police.

“I don’t like a 5% 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 said.

The city’s financial woes stem in part from a long-standing labor dispute with firefighters, which was recently settled at a cost of 650 million for back pay and 180 million for annual wage hikes.

City Council Member Willie Davis believes that the settlement is a significant compromise, stating, “This is going to come down to a financial sacrifice by the City. Now we can either be 1.2 billion broke or we can be 650 million broke.”

The increasing financial burden has alarmed other council members, including Tiffany Thomas, who questioned the next steps for generating revenue. The mayor has indicated that part of the solution may involve requesting more taxpayer support.

However, critics have accused the city of financial mismanagement. Bill King, a local columnist and businessman, criticized former Mayor Sylvester Turner, stating that the city’s financial issues have been apparent for over a decade and were only masked by a temporary influx of federal dollars, according to Daily Mail.

With the necessity of a tax hike looming, City Controller Chris Hollins mentioned a potential bond measure for the November ballot, where taxpayers may be asked to contribute more to address the shortfall.

Daily Mail reported:

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 not having a 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 projections saying Dallas could overtake New York as the most populous city in the country 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.

Critics say the city should not default to taxing residents when they could raise the money but cutting the fat inside city hall and selling an expensive art collection owned by the city.

‘The first thing we need to do is find where the money is first as opposed to the typical liberal answer to every problem: raise taxes on the people,’ conservative political analyst Gary Polland suggested.

One idea is charge for services like trash collection, which are currently free.

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