State lawmaker criticizes Dallas mayor for failing pension fund

The state lawmaker in charge of pensions says he is deeply concerned about the hemorrhaging Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund and is calling on the mayor to take responsibility for the problem.

The chair of the Texas Pensions Committee called Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings out for not offering any city money to prop up the failing system. FOX 4 was at the state capital last week when Rawlings warned lawmakers the pension crisis might force his city into bankruptcy.

“Shame on me. Shame on you. Shame on all of us if we allow that to happen,” Rawlings told state leaders.

By phone on Thursday, the chairman of the House Pensions Committee responded to the mayor's comments.

“To suggest we're going to go bankrupt, that's disturbing they would consider that as an alternative. This is Dallas, Texas,” State Rep. Dan Flynn said.

In a letter sent to Rawlings, Flynn criticized the mayor with allegations the city has been ducking its responsibilities for years and warned the crisis could prompt "approximately 20 percent of your police and fire to leave and cause a loss of leadership that would be devastating to the city."

“I've spent all my adult life on the streets and as a commander, and I never dreamed I'd be worried about paying my bills,” the retired lieutenant said.

To write a law that could help right the sinking pension ship, Flynn needs a plan from Dallas.

“It seems like maybe the city wants to get out of the plan instead of adhering to its commitments,” Flynn said. “That's disturbing to me.”

In exchange for any money from the city, Rawlings has said the city would want control of the board to protect taxpayers. Houston Senator John Whitmire warned against that.

“Don't take your pension plan and give it to a local city council,” the senator said. “I know all of them. They have different pressure points than the legislature has."

Flynn also sent a graph to the mayor. He says it shows during years of bad investments, city council members on the pension board were absent from board meetings more than 90 percent of the time.

Payne worries public safety will be in jeopardy if the city doesn't save the pension system soon.

“There will reach a point when they call 911, it will be like calling an appliance repair shop,” said Payne. “What day do you want them out there?”

Rawlings was unable to be reached for a response. He was traveling in Japan to promote tourism to Dallas and unable to respond.

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