These headlines are ALL too frequent in Chicago. Read the op-ed that explains why you should sign our petition...
Submitted to Crain’s Chicago Business – 10/21/17
Mayor’s 2018 Budget Lacks Civic Imagination
We’re all familiar with the headlines.
“For the 6th time in 7 years, Emanuel budget raises taxes.”
“Emanuel’s short-term budget solutions will cost $1 billion in interest.”
“CPS borrows $275 million at sky-high interest rate.”
Now that Mayor Emanuel has let us in on his 2018 budget plans we need to step back for a bigger picture.
In 2016 The Chicago Tribune estimated that all of Mayor’s taxes and fees amounted to about $1,700 a year for an average family. With the newly announced taxes and fees that number goes up by about another $150.
We’re raising money for our city the wrong way. We’re constantly using regressive methods to raise money – whether it’s through red light cameras penalties, usages fees, property taxes or other imaginative surcharges.
We need desperately to expand our civic imagination and open up a broad-based conversation on new, sustainable and progressive sources of savings and revenues for Chicago.
We break the ideas into three large buckets: (1) Money lost to use due to corruption, bad bank deals and police abuse; (2) Money hidden from us via the Tax Increment Financing Program, and (3) Money we are NOT collecting, but we should be.
All of the ideas in the book are in practice in America right now. Most of the solutions offered in the book can be enacted by Chicago without external permissions. But a few, like the progressive income tax for the state and a financial transaction tax on LaSalle Street trades, require state legislation.
Let’s discuss these ideas.
In the past (at least up to 2016) there were always a series of large public forums where the mayor and his top financial managers presented their plans to the people and listened to public comments. These were tightly scripted but at least people heard the mayor’s plans and had a chance to speak out.
I did not see any city-sponsored budget meetings last year or this. The 2017 budget passed 48-0. It looks like there will be little or no debate in City Council AGAIN.
Meanwhile, the book has triggered 55 public meetings since it was published in 2016. No major media outlet here (including Crain’s) has reviewed the book or covered the civic work surrounding it. Over 6,200 people have attended these meetings and they would like to know why the ideas in the book have not been discussed or are likely to be.
I would urge all aldermen to vote “NO” on the mayor’s 2018 budget and to schedule a robust series of town halls to hear new ideas about how to pay for a Chicago that works for EVERYONE.
Tom Tresser CivicLab Chicago October 2017
The "Chicago Is Not Broke" book project is building on the research and insights gained from three years of research and community meetings via the TIF Illumination Project.
We are distributing this book widely so as to impact the discussions around Chicago's budget and debates over the future of the city. Despite not being covered or reviewed by the major Chicago media, the book has triggered 54 public meetings since it was published in July of 2016!