My No Vote on the 2018 Budget
Today, I voted no on Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2018 budget because it falls far short of what the working families of Chicago need and deserve.
First and foremost, it continues to use regressive taxes fees and fines that burdens our lowest income and vulnerable households for revenue.
Over the last few years, we have asked residents to honor the commitment to our public safety workers and shore up our pension systems. Because of the long abdication of this responsibility by the Daley and early Emanuel administrations, the ask was great: a $500 million property tax increase ramped over 4 years. We are still seeing those increases on our property tax bills, our water bills, and our phone bills.
Yet, this budget asks for an increased phone tax that will cost a family with four lines an additional $52.80 on top of the $187.20 they already pay every year.
This budget also relaxes regulation on ride-share companies while imposing an additional 20¢ per-ride tax that will be paid by our residents. With ride-share companies only paying $10,000 for the right to use our infrastructure while extracting hundreds of millions of dollars out of our economy, the new budget and regressive taxes disproportionately put the burden on our city’s residents. Despite being a multi-billion dollar industry, many drivers are not even earning minimum wage.
$16 million generated by this increase will be handed over to the CTA with no oversight by the City Council. The CTA has some of the highest contracting costs of any public service. Without oversight, we cannot count on checks and balances being put in place to assure that money will be spent on important infrastructure and service improvements.
While I support the trend of increase surplussing of TIF funds, this budget picks up costs of security in our CPS schools and Safe Passage routes by giving CPS $14 million from the City, again with no oversight. This practice sets a dangerous precedent, both with the lack of oversight, as well as how it might expose the City’s bond rating to further downgrades.
I am not comfortable with these dollars being diverted unless I can be sure taxpayers are getting the most in return.
Finally, we are far behind on instituting police reforms and oversight in the police department. For years we were told that our force was the correct size and an exploding overtime budget was an effective policy. After all these years, we learned from the Inspector General’s report of potential overtime fraud and abuse in the department. And we know that retirements have far outpaced hiring, and the murder rate is over 600 to date.
Our aggressive hiring with a focus on diversity within our police force is a reason for optimism. But, if they are trained into a system that protects the status quo, we are just reinforcing sins of the past.
The administration has failed to fight for ways to make sure the very wealthy and big corporations are paying their fair share, and that we aren’t balancing the budget through more regressive, burdensome fees and fines on working families. For those reasons, I voted no.