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Dem Mayor Admits His City Is Broke with Tens of Millions in Debt, Couldn't Even Pay Firefighters

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Houston’s Democratic mayor admitted at a meeting last week that the country’s fourth-largest city is “broke.”

Mayor John Whitmire was elected in December, overwhelmingly defeating Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Now, staring down a deficit of $160 million, he is proposing spending cuts and potential new taxes to repair the damage done by his Democratic predecessors, according to KRIV-TV.

“I think we can all agree that we’re broke,” Whitmire said at last week’s City Council meeting.

The new mayor dodged any blame for Houston’s financial situation, saying, “It was broken when I got here.”

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Indeed, Whitmire recently settled a labor dispute with city firefighters in which he agreed to give them “$650 million for seven years of back pay,” KRIV reported.

“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.”

The mayor wants the city’s police and fire departments to keep their current funding but has proposed a 5 percent cut to all other areas of government in order to right the ship.

“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.

Whitmire faced some pushback during the meeting from Councilwoman Tiffany Thomas, who demanded a clearer plan.

“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?” Thomas asked.

The mayor said getting Houston back on its feet financially might involve “asking the taxpayers to step up,” as KRIV put it.

Councilman Willie Davis, meanwhile, offered a blunt assessment of the situation.

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“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,” he said.

Houston has only elected two Republican mayors in its history, with the last serving in the position from 1978 to 1981.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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