THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that public policy pundit Bill King testified to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday on the state of Houston's finances:
A longtime critic testified that during White's six years as mayor, Houston masked an operating deficit by issuing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of pension bonds.
Nearly half flowed through its general fund, which would have run out of cash last year if not for the borrowing, William E. King of Houston told the Senate Finance Committee.
"It's a way to kick the can down the road and not have to pay for your current expenses," said King, a small-business owner and lawyer.
Bill White's gubernatorial campaign was quick to assert that Bill King previously had little interest in the issue, until he decided to run for political office, even though he ultimately didn't run for political office. That's certainly a muddled talking point, but then again, even the best talking point can't change facts.
The fact is, Bill King has been a frequent -- and frequently sensible -- commentator on area public policy, did not run for any office in the last election cycle, and is not running for any office at the moment so far as we know. So the notion that a self-serving pol would accuse King of being a self-serving pol is more an amusing distraction than a rebuttal of what King had to say.
The other fact is, the City of Houston under Bill White did punt tough financial decisions down the road, as fellow Democrat and current Mayor Annise Parker made clear yesterday:
“For years now, we have spent more money than we have taken in,” she said. “You can't spend more than you earn. It is a very unbusinesslike approach to running things.”
We have not seen any variant of the DMN story in the Chronicle. Perhaps the Chron editorial board will offer the promised "rebuttal" for their man in a few days!
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