Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas responds to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago budget plan, announced this morning.
“I would hope that given his lame duck status, Emanuel would have put forward a budget that at least begins to address Chicago’s serious financial needs. Despite massive and unprecedented tax increases during the past few years – and with more already authorized to come — the city is no better off than it was eight years ago. This ought to be a wake-up call to all Chicagoans that the next mayor needs to be someone who is prepared to directly address this crisis on day one. This is why I offered my blueprint for bringing lasting reform to city finances.”
Despite whatever is said about this budget and a strong national economy, Chicago’s debt is up 250% since the mayor took office. The reason for this has been the complete absence of any long-term planning.
Here are the casualties after eight years:
- $28 billion in stated pension debt based on return estimates that the City has never hit.
- A police department that remains far short of full strength and desperately-needed resources.
- No plan to generate meaningful investment in 80% of Chicago, especially communities on the West and South sides, many of which are in depression-like conditions.
- Runaway tax and fee increases, the largest in the city’s history, with the biggest increases not yet seen and still on the horizon.
- Despite a raging national economy, Chicago’s employment growth is half the national rate and black unemployment is at 16%.
- CPS enrollment is down 15 percent and City Colleges enrollment is down 30 percent.
- Residential property values are down 17 percent since the last recession, despite property values nationally being up eight percent.
- Chicago is the fastest-shrinking big city in America.
As Warren Buffet and the great investors of the world have noted, the power of compounding is the eighth wonder of the world. When you do not plan and your a debtor with the worst credit rating of all big cities in the country, your financial situation spirals out of control.
This is bad for everyone: business, labor and neighborhoods.
It outlines solutions for:
- Resolving the long term pension funding issue;
- Providing the police department with the resources, infrastructure and support needed to be effective and accountable;
- Making a real investment — $10 billion – in the neglected neighborhoods of the South and West sides, without increasing taxes;
- Addressing the city’s most pressing infrastructure needs: affordable housing and clean water.
All of this will be accomplished while capping property tax increases and removing the punitive red light cameras.