My promise to police and firefighters
I will deliver a workable pension solution for those who stand to protect Dallas
Two years ago during the last legislative session, I authored a bill to provide a 25-foot halo of protection around police officers so that when they were working to protect our community they would not be assaulted or harassed by freelance video journalists. The bill did not prohibit filming, nor did it limit in any way the use of footage acquired by such activists.
It did, however, incite thousands of people from around the country to proclaim me an enemy of free speech. During that time, my family and I received more than 100 death threats. Most threats were the benign musings of angry bloggers. Some, however, were quite specific, such as the threat to nail my newborn to a tree.
During those moments, as my wife and I prayed for peace and safety, a member of the Dallas Police Department was parked in front of my house ensuring that no harm would come to me or my family. For several weeks, the Dallas police stood vigil over my house so that my wife and my little ones might live their lives, never knowing that they were under constant threat.
My story is unique. But all residents of Dallas rest comfortably in their beds tonight because of the sacrifices of men and women in blue. You will never know their names. You will never have the opportunity to thank them for all they do for our families and our community.
Dallas made a promise to these men and women. We asked them to sacrifice everything, including sometimes their lives, so that we might sleep peacefully at night. So that we, by merely pressing three digits on our telephones at any hour of the day or night, might summon them to protect our property from fire or ensure that our mothers and fathers can get to the hospital before their bodies expire.
I’m going to keep my promise to our first responders. And no accountant, lawyer, fancy businessman or mayor is going to keep me from doing so.
Three months ago I asked the city and representatives of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System to come together to craft a workable solution to the rapidly depleting fund. I noted that if it ended up within the purview of the Texas Legislature, where I am a member, no party would be happy with the outcome.
Rep. Dan Flynn, chairman of the Pensions Committee of the Texas Legislature, never received a viable plan.
Flynn and others, including me, have worked for more than two years to come up with a credible and actuarially sound solution. After thousands of hours of negotiation, countless drafts of proposals sent to the city and the pension fund, and long whiteboard sessions with accountants from all sides, Flynn and the Dallas delegation to the Texas Legislature have found a plan that works. The plan we have crafted:
Keeps Dallas’ promise to our first responders. Is actuarially sound. Protects the fund for more than 30 years. Is not a taxpayer bailout. Ensures that management of the plan will be conducted by seasoned third-party investment professionals.
Has been developed with the best and brightest accountants and financial specialists in the country.
No doubt, there will be naysayers who claim this plan is a bad deal for Dallas taxpayers or is a taxpayer bailout.
To the naysayers I say this: I was born and raised in Dallas; I represent Dallas in the Texas Legislature; I watched every one of my babies being born in Dallas; and I will most certainly die a resident of our city.
I keep my promises to those who sacrifice everything for my family, and you can be assured that this plan is the best, most responsible proposal submitted.
Fellow Dallasites, sleep in comfort tonight knowing you are safe and you have done the right by our first responders.
Jason Villalba is a Republican member of the Texas House representing Dallas County. Email: email@example.com
COMING MONDAY: Dallas Citizens Council Chairman Jere Thompson on why the pension bill is a disaster. Can't wait? Read it online at dallasnews.com/ opinion.