What had been politically damaging for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner for months may have been resolved last week with the swipe of a judge’s pen.
Last week, a district court ruled that Proposition B, the ballot measure last November that granted firefighters and police equal pay, is unconstitutional.
The ruling comes after months of fighting between the City of Houston and the Houston Firefighters Union.
Newly elected Texas District Court Judge Tanya Garrison ruled that Prop. B violated the Texas Constitution. Her reasoning was that Texas law dictates firefighters and police must receive pay comparable to private sector employment, not each other.
Following the ruling, which the Houston Firefighters Union has appealed, Turner said there will be no firefighter layoffs and he is committed to a pay raise.
“Are firefighters deserving of a pay raise? The answer is, ‘Yes,’ he said. “Is this administration committing to offer a pay raise to them? The answer is, ‘Yes.’ Are there going to be any layoffs? No.”
More than 60 new fire cadets were sworn in late last week.
During his state of the city address Monday at the Greater Houston Partnership, Turner said his “door is open” to discussing his offer of a 9.5 percent increase for fire fighters. He also expects the city’s credit rating will improve as a result of the court ruling.
Political observers believed Prop B was causing political headaches for the mayor. A source close to the mayor’s office said Turner, with the ruling behind him, is more likely to sail to re-election in November.
“The issue has gone away,” said the source, who requested anonymity. “It frees the mayor up to discuss his record of accomplishment and vision for the city.”
Former Texas Southern University political scientist Jay Aiyer tweeted that the ruling “potentially lifted @SylvesterTurner’s prospects this November.”