The will of nearly 300,000 Houston voters was nullified Wednesday by a state district court judge, who ruled that Proposition B is unconstitutional under Texas law.
Judge Tanya Garrison of the 157th Civil District Court said in a written final judgment that Prop B, the voter-approved referendum granting the city’s firefighters equal pay to police officers of corresponding rank and seniority, is “preempted in its entirety by Chapter 174 of the Texas Local Government Code.” That was an argument made by the City of Houston and Houston Police Officer’s Union, the latter of which filed a lawsuit in November after Prop B was passed.
Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a statement released Wednesday, said the city would rescind the 60-day layoff notices it had issued to 220 firefighters, 67 fire cadets and 47 other municipal employees. The city had planned the layoffs as a means of covering the cost of 29 percent firefighters raises associated with the implementation of Prop B and on May 10 said it mailed checks to firefighters totaling about $31 million, which represented pay raises effective Jan. 1.
But Wednesday’s ruling voided those raises.
“This is a tremendous positive ruling for the city as a whole, for keeping the city on solid financial footing and moving the city forward and quite frankly, it is my hope, pulling the city back together,” Turner said. “(Firefighters) are deserving of a pay raise that the city can afford. I do look forward to sitting down and talking with them about what would be an acceptable pay raise within the confines of the city’s financial capability.”