DALLAS – State Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van said he would consider a minor tweak to language in his bill that overhauls the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund.
Flynn, who chairs the House Pension Committee, said he agreed with councilman-elect Dwaine Caraway’s idea that the Dallas City Council, not the mayor, should appoint the five members to the new pension board.
“It’s always been the legislative intent that the council would. They’re the responsible party. Certainly, the mayor, as head of the council, would have the primary role there,” said Flynn on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning.
The bill heads to the Senate now after passing unanimously last week in the Texas House.
The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System has a shortfall of more than $3.7-billion after being badly mismanaged for years.
With three weeks left in the legislative session, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, is likely to move Flynn’s bill quickly through the upper chamber.
“Senator West is going to pick it up for us," Flynn said. "He told me from the beginning: ‘you keep it clean and we’ll pass it like you bring it to us.’ That’s what we tried to do. That was our effort."
But Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was in Austin last week lobbying against the legislation for two reasons.
“One is Chairman Flynn’s bill locks in how much we have to pay forever and ever; going up 2.75 percent every year whether we hire those police and fire [or not]," Rawlings told WFAA. "That’s not how you put a pension fund [together]. That’s a terrible strategy. And then second governance. How do you make sure taxpayers feel accountable, own it and make sure this fund never gets off the tracks again."
When asked why taxpayer contributions to the pension should be at a fixed rate rather than fluctuate with the number of police and firefighters Dallas hires, Rep. Flynn said: “They kind of refer to it as phantom employees. I just don’t agree with it.”
“I think maybe he has a misunderstanding of some of the issues in the bill. He has had an opportunity to be with us. Second, there’s going to be a board and members from the city will sit on that board. This was agreed to,” Flynn added.
He said he does not expect the senate to make any substantive changes.
“I think that unanimous vote is going to have a lot of influence on them,” Flynn said.