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Democratic Mayor Acknowledges City’s Financial Crisis with Massive Debt

via KHOU 11
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Houston’s new Democratic mayor has admitted that the city is facing a large budget deficit due to overspending by previous administrations.

To address the $160 million shortfall, the mayor has proposed 5% spending cuts to all non-essential city services while maintaining funding for police and fire departments.

“I think we can all agree that we’re broke,” Mayor John Whitmire said.

“It was broken when I got here,” he said.

He has also hinted at potential tax increases and fees to close the budget gap.

Whitmire recently pledged to give them “$650 million for seven years of back pay,” to Houston firefighters.

“I’m not going to play games with people’s lives,” Whitmire said. “I’m not going to play politics with people’s lives. So we have a responsibility to settle with the firefighters and protect Houstonians.”

“I don’t like a 5 percent cut now, but you have to make tough decisions and the folks put me in this position to make tough decisions, and I’m going to do my job,” he said.

The mayor faces pushback from some council members who want more specific plans, but most seem to acknowledge tough financial sacrifices will be needed to stabilize the city’s finances.

“Are we going to fee Houstonians? Is it a trash fee? Are we paying for parking after 6? Are we going after Metro’s money? What are we doing?” Councilwoman Tiffany Thomas asked.

“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,” Councilman Willie Davis said.

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