Houston voters pass Proposition B on equal firefighter pay

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The fight over Proposition B, which passed Tuesday night, concerns pay for Houston firefighters.

It boils down to firefighters seeking pay that matches police officers of equal ranks. The fight is a long time in the making, including a huge effort to get it on the ballot in the first place.

But it's something Mayor Turner says the city just can't afford. He's even said layoffs are possible if it passes.

Turner is so opposed to Prop. B, he spent some of his own campaign funds in the ad push against it, as did the Houston Police Officers Union.

This issue has gone on for months, firefighters saying their pay is not on par with other cities of similar sizes.

These issues are among the many that all come down to what voters decided Tuesday night.

"This apparent vote result presents city government with a new set of huge obstacles. The costs will be steep, as I have warned for months," Mayor Turner said. "Under our city charter we don't have a way to raise taxes to pay for this. The only way out is cuts in spending, and by far our biggest spending is on payroll."

"I hope and trust the residents of Houston will bear with us as we work to balance the city's budget with an an additional $100 million a year added to our expenses," he continued to say.

The Houston Police Officers' Union released the following statement following the passage of Prop. B:

"After this misleading 'pay parity' proposition started this election cycle two months ago with nearly four-to-one support, we are encouraged that many Houstonians clearly trended in our direction after being introduced to the basic facts about this truly bad deal. No doubt, many voters were misled by fraudulent messages and posts, or at least confused by the convoluted ballot language - which the firefighters' union wrote. We will now research appealing to the court system to help protect Houstonians and our officers from the irresponsible actions by some in the Houston firefighters' union."

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