Financially Sound Chicago
I am a Pro-Business Progressive. I believe that the City can support the business community and foster economic growth while also prioritizing progressive forms of revenue that don’t increase taxes. Unless we get serious about our city’s financial situation, Chicago will continue to struggle to reduce crime and support vital social services, fall short of affordable housing needs, and put too few dollars towards investing in communities. No one wants this level of dysfunction, which means we need a Mayor who can bring diverse stakeholders to the table to find equitable solutions.
First and foremost, we need to stop the cycle of short-sighted quick fixes and focus on long-term stability and planning so that we can afford to fund the things we need to make Chicago a better, safer city for all.
The current Mayor has touted improving the financial situation in the city but has neglected to mention that she’s been able to fund those improvements with once-in-a-lifetime federal Covid dollars. My administration will seek out sustainable, long-term solutions to manage city finances and set up future generations for success.
From my work as a State Representative and my previous work at the federal level, I know that Chicago is leaving money on the table simply because of poor communication, siloing, and the current administration’s fundamental inexperience with how the different levels of government operate. I know what it’s going to take to work with the State and Federal levels to get that funding and use it to build a better Chicago.
A pension is a promise, and I’m committed to doing the work we need to get Chicago’s pension system back on track. A healthy pension program is funded at 80%, but in Chicago we’re way off the mark – Labor is only at 43% funded, Police at 23%, Municipal at 21% and the Fire Department at just 19%. We have to do better.
To better leverage the resources available to us, we need a Mayor with the experience and the knowledge to do it, and in order to implement progressive forms of revenue, we need a mayor who will work toward ‘yes’ instead of getting stuck at ‘no.’
Leverage Existing Resources
- Work with Springfield to get the Local Government Distributive fund back to 10%. Since 2011, it has been down to 6%. Recouping these funds will bring in $200 million in additional revenue to build out programs without putting additional burden on taxpayers.
- Work with Springfield to change the school funding Tier System so CPS gets the funding it needs.
- Make sure the City and its sister agencies are getting 100% of money that’s been appropriated to them by Springfield. Every year there’s grant money on the table that the City misses out on due to bad communication and dysfunctional bureaucracy.
- Work with the Federal government to allow airport revenue to be used towards operating and maintaining transportation to the airports.
- Look into historical tax exemptions and reevaluate their relevance.
- Do a complete forensic budget audit to find efficiencies and savings in the current city budget.
Reform the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Program
- Declare a TIF surplus on downtown TIF districts to bring in an incremental $400 million per year for schools, parks, libraries, city budget, and other projects.
- Reprioritize TIF funding to move to under-resourced communities and bring in new investments and good-paying jobs to the areas with the greatest need.
- Increase transparency around TIF funding so taxpayers have visibility into where funds come from and how they are used.
- Create more inclusive and diverse TIF review boards that are representative of all stakeholders to ensure the eligibility criteria is met.
Explore Instituting New Fees
- Apply a Bad Business Fee to companies who fail to pay their employees a living wage, fail to operate in a way that’s inclusive for people with disabilities, and other violations.
- Place a “stormwater stress fee” on business giants that put pressure on the sewer system.
- Implement wear and tear fees for delivery and logistics companies.
- Commission a task force to look into additional potential revenue sources, including congestion fees and land value taxes.
Get Pension Payments Back on Track
- Re-amortize the City’s pension debt so our annual pension obligation is reduced.
- Explore ways to create a level-dollar payment schedule that grows the pension funding ratio every year to bring it closer to 80%.
- Look into pension obligation bonds (POBs), which are not new debt but would transfer pension debt to bond debt, typically at a lower interest rate.
- Establish a clear plan to leverage long-term savings from pension reform to fund key programs.