POLITICIANS TALK PAUL WORKS*

*FOR PEOPLE

Paul will work transparently to better Chicagoans’ quality of life. He will ensure children’s access to sustainably-funded, high-quality schools and veterans' access to city services, eliminate the threat of lead in the water, and improve the city’s infrastructure, from internet services to bike lanes. LEARN MORE

*FOR SAFETY

Paul will provide the Police Department with the resources and support needed to dramatically improve the low homicide clearance rate. This will be accomplished by maintaining a force of 14,000 officers to ensure beat integrity and a stronger relationship with the community. This will include a minimum 1,200 Detectives, five detective divisions, and the hiring of a minimum of 400 retired officers to provide investigative support. LEARN MORE

*FOR OPPORTUNITY

Using his experience managing billion dollar budgets and an innovative approach to potential city income sources – Opportunity Zones, TIFs, and federal funds –  Paul will finance economic opportunity for all of Chicago. LEARN MORE

*PAUL’S FIVE-POINT PLAN FOR CHICAGO

*Wage a war against violent crime to make our neighborhoods safer by getting violent criminals off the streets

*Invest in Chicago, prioritizing long-neglected areas of the city, to create economic opportunities and bring jobs to ALL of the city’s neighborhoods

*Ensure all children have access to high quality schools that are safe and secure

*Implement a long-term financial plan that will solve the city’s financial problems while capping property taxes and fees and reducing fines that are punishing families and small businesses

*Prioritize efforts to ensure that people live in healthy communities with access to critically needed community-based social services

*INVESTING IN PEOPLE

Student Loans and Debt

Paul introduced a comprehensive plan to address student debt that, as mayor, he will implement at the city level. His plan includes three different mechanisms to relieve debt and to create an easier pathway to contributing to the workforce debt-free.

Mechanisms to Alleviate Debt

A Vallas Administration will create mechanisms to help existing and former college and university students refinance their college debt, while providing new students with high-quality higher education opportunities that will not stick students with burdensome and often overwhelming term debt.

The approach will include the creation of a Debt Refinancing Program (DRP) and Consortium of Affordable Colleges and Universities (CACU). The DRP will allow individuals to refinance their existing debt. The CACU will be located in Chicago and will offer high-quality educational services at affordable tuition costs.

An important element of the plan includes creating the Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) Program that will allow students to trade future income for investor-paid tuition. Income Sharing Agreements will also enable students to avoid burdensome, and often unpayable, debt. Colleges and universities could elect to participate as part of the CACU or individually.

Both the CACU and the ISA’s will have fourfold benefits of making college affordable, helping increase the City’s college and university enrollment, directing students to in-demand studies and helping promote City overall population growth.

 

College Debt Refinancing Program

Paul will create a refinancing mechanism using the leverage of the City’s deposits and investments in financial institutions to facilitate the refinancing of existing student loans. The refinancing will be contingent on student residency. The goal will be to enable the students to refinance their debt at lower interest costs, or extend their loan payments, as to make their annual loan repayments more affordable. Certain loans could be converted to “shared income agreements.” The program will be accompanied by a College Savings Bond component, which will allow parents to invest in their children’s college education when they are still young. Long-term investments could be tied to fixed tuition costs to ensure affordability.

 

Affordable College Consortium

Paul will create the consortium of public and private colleges and universities located in the Chicago to provide affordable tuition for college and university students who are City residents. Institutions would elect to join the consortium. Through this, they agree to keep tuition affordable and participate in other tuition affordability initiatives, such as income sharing agreements. The City, in exchange, will offer a series on incentives ranging from tax breaks, infrastructure, marketing assistance and student feeder programs to institutions that will keep tuition low.

 

Income Sharing Agreements

Paul will create the Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) Program to finance college and university tuition. This will alleviate student debt burden by permitting investors to purchase university education for students in exchange for a cut of their future earnings. Purdue University President Mitch Daniels has embraced such a concept at Purdue University, seeing Income Shared Agreements as part of the answer to making college more affordable. An investment fund is created to pay for students to attend participating colleges and universities. Students then agree to pay the investors a to-be-determined slice of their post-graduation incomes for a set number of years. Such arrangements will create incentives for organizations, such as foundations and alumni associations, to support students with mentoring and career counseling, without putting tax dollars at risk. Such a program could also be financed using the Social Impact Bond concept.

The concept of income share agreements is not new. Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman first proposed it in 1955 as a way to reduce the role of government in education.

Ultimately, legislation could be sought from Congress to provide further incentives for such investments, to enact clarification of the legality of the practice and provide protections for both investors and students.

Income sharing agreements will help direct students to in-demand studies while lowering the cost of college. Firms will assign risks to different schools and majors – and students wishing to forego less of their equity will gravitate to high-paying majors. Markets will give students information that will help reduce the monumental “mismatch” problem that persists today, where huge proportions of college students take low-paying jobs, where most holders have high school diplomas.

Income share agreements pass the risk of failing to graduate college from students. These students then are stuck with likely unpayable debt to investors who will carefully pool the risk from many students to ensure net positive income flow.

Infrastructure

Paul believes in a proactive rather than a reactive approach to Chicago’s infrastructural needs. In addition to the larger line-items like road and bike lane improvement, Paul’s plan includes lead-free water, flood prevention measures, adequate parking, and internet access worthy of our time.
 

Schools

Schools are the largest victim of unbalanced budgets. If communities are to have quality schools where students can grow and prosper, Chicago needs a long-term financial plan that will bring stability, open new schools, and fund effective programs. Read more about Paul’s record with schools around the world and his plans for a balanced budget.

The Plan

1. Ensure Financial Stability And Predictability 

Bring to CPS the long-term financial planning model necessary to enable long-term financial stability and ensure that every school has the resources and supports needed to be effective educational institutions and community centers.

– This is the approach Vallas previously utilized at CPS to transform a projected structural budget deficit of over $1.2 billion into a $1 billion cash balance, resulting in the earning of twelve bond upgrades. (Attachment #1)

– With the passage of normal costs combined with the prospect that Governor Pritzker will fully fund the new School Aid Formula, a five year plan can be developed similar to the successful five year growth plan Vallas deployed while CEO of CPS.

– Beginning with the foundation of a five year plan ensures estimated available revenues and costs are balanced.

– Building school budgets and staffing models into long-term financial plans ensures that there is equity and schools are provided the sustainable resources needed to support, improve and expand instruction and neighborhood program offerings.

2. Expand High Quality School Choices

Implement a strategy of expanding and supporting access for high quality education options, including ensuring students in every high school are provided full access to AP courses, Dual Enrollment and Early College, and by placing magnet-type programs – like International Baccalaureate (IB) – in neighborhood schools.

– Placing dual enrollment and early college programs, and placing IB and other magnet-type programs in neighborhood schools is a simple and cost-effective way to expand new program offerings throughout the city. 

– Full program roster expansion is not completed over a single year; the infrastructure and number of options is ramped up over multiple years. This plan is more reliant upon and enabled by an effective staffing strategy.

– Accomplishing this is a matter of strategic scheduling (e.g., a student may take a college-level course as an alternative to a core class)

– This will provide students the opportunity in their junior and senior years to enroll in early college/dual enrollment programs

– Success comes down to course offerings and planning.

– Making programs attractive makes schools attractive, which draws in students and results in more money for the district.

3. Implement Strategies That Will Eliminate The Achievement Gap

Expand early childhood programs, amend K-8 curriculum and implement instructional strategies and supports to close the achievement gap and ensure that all students are ready for high school. This strategy will include universal “Pre-Natal to the Classroom” services and expanded extended day and extended year interventions to close the gap

– These initiatives increased academic performance every year of Vallas’s tenure at CPS, more than doubled reading and math scores during his tenure at the School District of Philadelphia and resulted in Recovery School District of New Orleans leading the state in growth for six consecutive years.

– The growth in each district under Vallas’s leadership was largely accomplished by providing superior curriculum instructional models and by having extended day and extended year time dedicated to academic interventions and increased instructional time on task

– This is less an increased funding issue and more a budget prioritizing issue and the effective coordination of all available public and private resources toward programs that accomplish specific educational objectives

– This program becomes a part of MTSS (academic intervention; formally RTI)

– At CPS and in Philadelphia, schools were open an additional two hours a day during the school year and an additional six weeks over the summer. Instructional time for New Orleans schools averaged one third higher than mandated by state law

– Pre-natal to the Classroom is one of the least expensive and most effective programs for closing the achievement gap.

– The identified annual amount the Emmanuel administration needed for its Universal Four Year old preschool program could cover the additional costs of the Pre-Natal to the Classroom program and much of the cost associated with after school/extended day programming and expanded magnet programs.

– The long-term savings from the Pre-Natal to the Classroom program is immense in reduced costs for children with special needs and other costs associated with the failure to close the achievement gap.

4. Ensure Schools Are Modern, Safe And Superior Learning Centers

Ensure that all school buildings are modern, safe and environmentally healthy, and that all classrooms are superior state-of-the-art learning environments offering the technology needed to enhance instruction, education offerings and supports.

– The CPS Capital Plan will be reprioritized to focus on repairing and modernizing existing schools.

– Effective use of technology will expand teacher resources and educational offerings and choices

– Modernizing and maintaining state-of-the-art classrooms will ramp up over a five-year period through standardization, strategic sourcing and leasing.

– Safety will be further bolstered via restoration of the School Patrol and gradual conversion of CPS Safety and Security positions into CPD positions. CPS will pick up current costs for security while CPD will cover the difference. This will make over 500 additional CPD Officers available for special duty ~165 days of the year when schools are not open, saving additional tens of millions in overtime for CPD. 

– The plan will restore the student safety protocols and infrastructure implemented during Vallas’s tenure, and dismantled after he departed, including a 24/7 reporting and crisis intervention system.

– Utilizing emergent technology will enable a modern school digital social/safety net.

5. Make Available System-Wide Career And Technical Education 

Implement system-wide Career and Technical Education and Work Study programs available to juniors and seniors in every neighborhood high school.

– All high schools will offer Career and Technical Education and Work Study opportunities, with a primary focus on the junior and senior years.

– Work Study will utilize the Cristo Rey Model and include Student Entrepreneurial Programs.

– The intent is to provide all students with dual track opportunities, prepare them for the workforce and incentivize them to complete school. This will enable students to transition more easily to college or employment. 

– These programs can be made affordable with the effective use of technology, the right business and training school partnerships and a smart staffing and course offering strategy.

– Funding can be further supplemented by other available private and public funds.

6. Revitalize Declining Schools And Repurpose Closed Buildings

Develop a long-term plan to right-size the system by reinventing struggling schools and repurposing schools that have closed or on the verge of closing. 

– Prior to Vallas’s tenure at CPS, the district lost 110,000 students from its peak year in 1979. During his tenure from 1995-2001, enrollment grew by almost 30,000. Since then, it has lost over 30,000 students. 

– The long-term plan will include considerations for right-sizing the district to reflect demographic changes. It will also implement a strategy to make the school system more attractive and grow.

– Existing schools with declining enrollments need to be reinvented by adding high quality magnet programs, like IB, or giving them a new focus. For example, a declining school on the West Side could be converted into an already-needed Agricultural Science school, or a struggling high school could be reinvented as a First Responders Academy.

– Closed schools or schools on the verge of closing could be repurposed as Adult High Schools via funding available under a new state law or Alternative Schools.

– The primary strategy for shuttered buildings will be to reopen them as community centers that will offer Adult Education and Occupation Training to the tens of thousands of displaced adults, mostly men of color, age 17-50, who are high school dropouts, chronically unemployed or ex-offenders.

– There is readily available and likely funding for such initiatives; federal WIOA and WOTC funding is available for both the training and hiring of the aforementioned population, and the new governor indicates the state will fund the Adult High School Program.

– Any decision to close or repurpose a school will be made with the input and approval of the community.

7. Create A Pipeline Of Quality School Leaders And Teachers

Restore the CPS Leadership Academy to guide education policy and help recruit and train the next generation of school leaders, while establishing an apprentice program that will expand school supports as well as recruiting and training of the next generation of teachers and support staff candidates.

– Creating the Chicago Teacher Apprenticeship Program will expand the pool of diversified, highly qualified teacher candidates by incentivizing teacher candidates from all over the country.

– Establishing the CPS Career Changer teacher program will be enabled by entering into public-private partnerships with institutions already offering high quality programs. 

– Establishing CPS own Troops to Teachers Program and Alternative Teacher Certification Program with HBCU’s will further diversify and improve the quality of the teacher candidates pool.

– Any alternative certification programs will be developed in full partnership with the Chicago Teachers Union – and not without such a partnership.

– Restoring the old CPS leadership training programs (such as LAUNCH and LIFT) in partnerships with CPS’s and Northwestern or an alternative University will provide infrastructure for the pipeline. 

– Apprenticeships could be expanded to include nursing, counseling, psychology and business students, who would be trained like first time employees and could provide immediate supplemental support to CPS teachers and staff. This is meant to supplement, not displace existing personnel.

– Maintain the National Teachers Academy, which was created by the Vallas administration, and work in partnership with the CTU to improve and expand the program.

8. Implement A Governance Structure That Ensures Accountability 

Appoint a hybrid Chicago Public School Board of Education by appointing board members who are elected by the public, not the Mayor. The Board will have at minimum seven members with three appointed and three elected; the President will be appointed by the Mayor.

– Publicly elected Board members could be elected in “at large” elections or by Local School Council members. 

– All Boards that have oversight of public funds and have critical public service responsibilities need to have civilian representation, and civilians need to be selected by the public at large.

– Public representation needs to be accompanied by complete, convenient and expedited public access to all relevant information, especially financial and information related to performance.

– Information needs to be available digitally and in a format that can be easily navigated and understood. Public representation must be matched by public access to information and transparency.

 

Ticket Reform

Chicago is increasingly balancing its budgets on fees and fines which are disproportionately falling on the backs of those least able to pay. It's time to end Chicago's draconian fees and fines practices.

While the question raised in recent studies of whether or not the City of Chicago is disproportionately writing tickets in poorer communities is an important one which needs comprehensive answers, a larger problem is that fees and fines are spreading when Chicagoans, like the majority of Americans, can least afford them. A total of 48 states have increased their fees and fines court since 2010. Local governments have increasingly turned to fees and fines since the Great Recession. Yet, at the same time as cities reach into the pockets of its citizens for fees revenue, almost half of all Americans lack the savings to cover a $400 emergency expense. Shame on the City for designing budgets that are increasingly reliant (now 7% in Chicago) on such regressive revenue generating measures.

Excessive fees and fines that exceed people’s ability to pay create unnecessary barriers to employment, mobility, and opportunity. When people cannot pay fines, fees, or tickets, their credit can be downgraded or their driver’s license suspended, making it hard to get a job or a place to live. Late fees and other penalties can monumentally grow the debt and dig people into holes that are impossible to get out of. Consider the facts that, in Chicago, there were over 10,000 fees and fines-related bankruptcies in 2017, 80% of them in predominantly African American communities, and that 21,000 drivers licenses were suspended in 2016 alone, the majority of them low income drivers. Those statistics demonstrate it clearly – the system must be fixed.

It’s time for City Hall to stop Chicago’s unrelenting “Loan Shark” tactics of collecting fees and fines. Even the fictional Rocky Balboa knew in the first Rocky movie: if you break a debtor’s thumbs they can’t work to pay of their debts.

It’s time to remove any Red Light Camera that does not demonstrably show improved public safety.

It’s time to establish a policy that limits ticketing on vehicle stickers to one per car, voiding multiple violations on the same plate.

It’s time to end driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fees and fines.

It’s time to assess ticket writing patterns to determine the real reason for disparities, and to fully examine our fees and fines policies to determine their full social-economic impact.

It’s time for action to end Chicago’s draconian and unfair fees and fines practices.

Clean Water

While many large cities see a degree of lead in the water, Chicago’s water problem is compounded by that fact that it permitted lead water piping until 1986. To avoid the devastating neurological effects associated with lead, Paul proposes an ambitious city-sponsored service fund that would replace water supply service connectors between homes and city water mains while working with homeowners to establish clean water supplies in the interim.

What’s the deal?

Chicago has more lead service lines than any other city in the country – 80% of homes use lead pipes to connect to the main line. That’s 385,000 remaining lead pipes. As these lines age and are disturbed by road construction and main water line replacement, risk of lead exposure only increases.  This is a serious health issue with lasting, severe consequences for children.

To date, the city’s policy has been to replace the main lines and leave it to the property owner to replace the connecting lines. This financial burden has an outsized effect on working class and low-income neighborhoods. Chicago’s citizens shouldn’t be exposed to lead because they can’t pay for the city’s mistakes. It also undermines the ability of depressed neighborhoods to increase their property values and attract and retain families and businesses.

What has the city been doing to address it?

Well, not a lot. Chicago and other cities haven’t been required to replace service lines because there is no federal limit on the amount of lead in tap water in your home, only the main lines. A water utility can be ordered to make repairs, but only once it repeatedly exceeds a systemwide benchmark intended to gauge the effectiveness of anti-corrosion treatment.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago officials consider corrosion control in the city effective, basing their safety assurances on 50 federally-mandated lead tests conducted every three years. The Tribune reported in February of 2016 that “few of the tests were carried out on streets where a water main has been replaced, the vast majority of the homes tested were owned by people who work for or retired from the City Water Department and none of the tests were conducted in areas of the city where childhood lead poisoning remains a problem.”

The city currently advises residents affected by water main replacements to flush their taps for a few minutes any time water hasn’t been used for several hours. “Informational” mailers have not included references to lead and have merely suggested that homeowners flush taps once after water main work is complete. The city offers free water testing via test kits that can be sent to a lab for analysis, however, arrival of such kits are never certain and are rarely timely.

Paul’s Solution

Paul’s solution is to create a Neighborhood Conservation Fund that will secure and leverage accessible federal, state, and local revenues to help finance the replacement of homes and small businesses’ lead service lines.

It will be a revolving fund that will be replenished to give Chicagoans long-term access to property improvement capital. This initiative will also help create a neighborhood-based water purification industry that will contribute to local employment opportunities.

Steps

1. Initiate a Public Education Campaign to alleviate residents’ concerns, explain offerings, and inform them of immediate actions they can take to limit lead exposure.

2. Offer free testing services and develop a plan to test all properties connected to lead service lines.

3. Pre-qualify vendors to ensure residents are receiving effective water filtration systems.

4. Develop an aggressive program for installing lead free pipes in new and existing properties.

Replacement Priorities

– Provide public access to affordable, effective, and subsidized water filtration systems.

– Replace lead pipes connected to day care centers and schools. Address lead paint.  

– Replace lead pipes connected to parks and other public places.

Paying for it: The Neighborhood Conservation Fund

Access the Federal and State Loan Program to pay for lead pipe replacement.

Galesburg was the first community in Illinois to secure funding for lead pipe replacements through the federal-state loan fund. To date, they have borrowed $4 million to replace half of the 10,000 lead pipes in the city.  

– End the state’s Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax diversion. 

This would restore approximately $100 million in previously constitutionally dedicated annual revenues to Chicago, a portion of which could be used to finance NCF lead abatement projects.

– Dedicate an annual percentage of current and future TIF surpluses and Developer Fees to the NCF to extend loans.

– Pursue the creation of a State Homeowners Property Tax Credit Program to partially offset the costs of lead pipe removal and replacement for homeowners and small businesses.

– Create a local property tax abatement program to partially offset the cost of lead pipe replacements and lead removal from property.

Plan for City Colleges

The City Colleges of Chicago can become a beacon of success, known for the the excellent quality of their programs. Paul is committed to work with the well-credentialed CCC faculty to create a college system of the future that is at the service of the all constituencies of the city.

The Issue

The issue with Emmanuel’s strategy for the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) that has each college specialize and limits occupational training offerings at each institution is that it significantly reduces options for many Chicagoans while picking and choosing which communities will have access to the more attractive programs and the more durable professions.

 

Plummeting Enrollment

Specialization and CCC system of centralized recruitment as opposed to unleashing individual colleges to aggressively recruit on their own is causing enrollment to plummet.  Consider that overall CCC attendance has been plummeting, from 119,417 in 2010-11 to 82,384 in 2016-17.   This is a decline of over 37,033 students or 31%.  The fact that other suburban community colleges with smaller geographic and demographic service areas have similar offerings of thriving, quality programs suggest the Emmanuel specialization approach is ill conceived.

 

Case Study: Nursing

The absurdity of the Emmanuel approach can best be seen in the handling of the Nursing Program.  There is no greater evidence of enrollment decline than in the Nursing Program.  In 2010-11 there were 1,239 students enrolled in the program while only 380 last year.  This is a decline of 859 students or 60%.  So much for specialization.

CCC is only successfully preparing about half as many students to pass state registered nurse licensing exams than it did prior to consolidation of the nursing program at Malcolm X College.  This is deeply troubling.  It is especially troubling in light of the fact that the new Malcolm X College cost taxpayers more than $250 million to construct, and was to be a state-of-the-art facility that would have been expected to significantly boost successful student outcomes.

This situation begs the question of why the Program is significantly failing to meet its goals. Students and taxpayers deserve a thorough explanation of what is going wrong.  It also begs the question of how the other specialty programs are faring throughout the City Colleges of Chicago.

It is important to point out that when the decision was made to consolidate the program at Malcolm X College, they closed two programs that were performing well with high passage rates (Truman and Wright) and one that was improving (Daley) while keeping open CCC’s worst performing program at Malcolm X.

CCC could have worked to improve the existing nursing program while moving to establish a high quality Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) Degree program at Malcolm X. Which is something that other institutions have done to take advantage of the growing market.  More and more hospitals are requiring BSN’s.

It is also important to note that other Community Colleges in the suburbs (Southwest, Prairie State, Moraine Valley, Harper, and Ivy Tech in West Indiana)offer similar core programs like Nursing and have not suffered enrollment declines.

Financial Impact

By emphasizing centralization and specialization the Mayor’s Office lost sight of the needs of the community and ignored the realities of the funding formula, specifically, state reimbursement which is still based on enrollment.  CCC loss of funding will ultimately diminish its programs and its long term ability to hold down tuition costs. This also means that CCC will be dipping more heavily into the reserves for operational dollars and to pay off the pension contributions for retirees, further financially destabilizing CCC.

The Reality of CCC Improvement

Emmanuel’s search for headlines and emphasis on numerical outcomes was highlighted in BGA’s devastating investigation into CCC’s practice of manipulating graduation rates and awarding invalid diplomas.  CCC also effectively created a two-tier degree award system where the emphasis was on non-transferable degree awards.  The increase in the total degree awards made national headlines and was touted as a great achievement but the bulk of those degrees were non-transferable paper according to Illinois State Law.

How was the Associate In General Studies Numerical Reinvention Outcome achieved:

Student records were culled for those receiving over 60 credits and no degree award

Course substitutions were used to make the individual course fit the program

Degrees were granted for said coursework retroactively, and

New undeclared/undecided students were shunted into the AGS program for an easy numerical win, thus keeping up the aggregate number of awards

In the year the initiative was begun, 2012, there was an AGS spike.  It reached its apex in 2014.  The increase continued until 2015 when two transfer level courses were added to the degree requirements.  Then, the AGS degree awards plummeted, and there was a noticeable decrease.  Not only was the degree non-transferable, it was an “academically soft degree.”

While touting operational efficiency under the Reinvention, he effectively dismantled CCC and centralized programs. Which ultimately disenfranchised students who were no longer able to pursue their program studies at the local college.  While claiming operational efficiency, he created a centralized administrative structure that was as large, or larger, than the budget of the individual colleges.

CCC has touted gains in adult education based on an increase in the number of students taking college courses.  This begs the question as to how many students completed degrees, which is the ultimate measure of Reinvention.  Further, note that in 2009 total Adult Education enrollment was 43,842, in 2014-15 the number had decreased to 28,466 under increased centralized management from District.  The Adult Education Program was “On Watch” during the entire period of Reinvention, and even today, because it was not meeting State Goals. (define on watch for those who do not know – specifically the possible negative consequences)  There was no real marketing for this program emanating out of the District office. Oh YES, REINVENTION, at the expense of the taxpayer and to the detriment of the community and the student.

My Vision for the City Colleges of Chicago

My strategy will be that each College should have the same core of high quality programs so that no area of the City is discriminated against.  Each College will be granted broad autonomy and be encouraged to recruit students aggressively and establish relationships with potential feeder schools and business and industry partners.

 

My approach to CCC will be guided by the following principles:

A CCC the respects and supports the unique identity of each of the seven colleges as expressed in the concept of “independently accredited colleges”

Programmatic offerings that are nationally recognized for excellence

Colleges that students and parents consider first choice colleges for their excellence in career and transfer programs

Full transparency and honesty with respects to student achievement and program importance.

Colleges that are connected to the community and responsive to its needs, with each college delivering a quality set of core programs and by promoting essential community programs; such as that of First Responders

All students will have the “soft skills” employers need to make them successful in the workplace

Faculty are active participants and collaborators in the shaping of curricular offerings and respected for their academic achievement and recognized for their efforts for innovation and excellence.

Budget, Enrollment, and Recruitment

A new report on higher education titled the Hechinger Report predicts a significant downturn in higher education enrollment by 2025 of more than 15%.  This projection in addition to the already unbelievable decrease in enrollment at the City Colleges of Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership presents a gloomy picture for enrollment in regards to the impact on faculty load and funding.

One of the three legs of community college funding is State Reimbursement.  The State Reimbursement is based on headcount (enrollment-loosely) and comes to the City Colleges of Chicago from the State two years after the enrollment is evidenced. The result is that the reimbursement amount is a predictable variable for forecasting budgets.  In light of the already continuous drop in enrollment, one can only expect the continuation of a chaotic process leading to the development of a yearly budget for the next year.  It is noteworthy that the City Colleges of Chicago has received kudos from the Civic Federation for coming in balanced.  This is, of course, a laudable outcome, but does not reflect the process that was used to obtain it.  Nor did it foresee the massive number of cuts that were evident when the new administration came in 2017.120 staff members were laid off, mostly at the District level.

In the early stages of Reinvention (2010-11), the District provided templates for the seven “independently accredited colleges” that superimposed the Reinvention business model.  Operational efficiency caused a clash of cultures between academe and the superimposition of District dominance.  The end result as policies of centralization were put into effect was that the budget was increasingly centralized at District. Thefinal college budget was finalized at Districtand was subsequently moved forward without individual College approval. The budget also showed a significant skewing pattern of dollar distribution across all colleges.

The above enrollment and lack of inclusiveness in budget preparation speak to the lack of collaborative long-term economic planning at City Colleges of Chicago. Reinvention under Emanuel’s leadership was quick to develop a five-year plan for outcomes and targets without developing a parallel budget plan to meet the long-term exigencies of the City Colleges of Chicago.  This type of approach led to an unbridled bloating of the District Administration and an unequal per capita distribution of the College’s budget.

It is my vision and plan for the City Colleges of Chicago to deliver a budget:

Whose development is inclusive and collaborative,

That recognizes the supports the individual achievements of each college

That recognizes the exigencies of the funding formula and reflects a strategic process of long-term planning to meet projections from forecasting.

But most importantly, I am committed to developing a student recruitment process that is community based and leads to a balanced approach to budget maintenance. Irrespective of doom and gloom predictions, we, Chicagoans, can overcome any obstacle if we are committed to creating a world class community college system at the City Colleges of Chicago.

Expanding City Inclusiveness and Access for LGTBQ+ Individuals 

Chicago must be just, equitable, and accessible to all residents regardless their sexual preference, sexual identity, or gender.

It important that the next mayor of the city of Chicago fosters an environment that is truly just and equitable for all Chicagoans free of any forms of bias. A Vallas administration will ensure the city has the following necessary components:

  • Ensure that LGBTQ+ individuals and business owner are represented in all city hiring and contracts – Inclusion of people with different backgrounds and experiences is an important and basic first step of building an effective team, and providing a seat at the table/in the room is tantamount to building this inclusion. Part of running a city that is equitable for all is ensuring input and representation from all members of the community. As mayor, Paul will ensure that the City hires diverse staff, including representation from LGBT+-identifying individuals. This approach will extend to the City’s philosophy for contacting, in which we will strive for diverse (preferably local) contracting companies.
  • Promote inclusive education in all CPS schools – As mayor, Paul will work closely with community organizations and the CPS to develop a curriculum that teaches students in the schools the importance of civil and human rights. This includes teaching students what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community and that by identifying within the community does not change how someone gets treated. Paul will work with community organizations to develop safe spaces within communities and schools where students who need assistance within the LGBTQ+ community can receive it, such as the Gay/Straight Alliances and LGBTQ+ clubs Paul’s help foster in my career as an educator in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Bridgeport.
  • Work to create police officer training that prepares them to assist on calls within the LGBTQ+ community – Many individuals that identify within the LGBTQ+ community feel as if officers responding to calls in their community do not understand the needs and dynamic of the community. Paul will provide resources to train officers and ensure that all CPD officers are trained and prepared to deal with issues such as crisis de-escalation, violence against transender persons, and domestic violence in non-heteronormative relationships. It is important that we protect the most vulnerable in the city and part of the most vulnerable are within our transgender community, especially transgender individuals of color.
  • Ensure compliance within city infrastructure – It is important that we ensure state equality laws are being followed within the entire city. As mayor, Paul will continue to ensure equality in the employment practices of City Hall and will work with community member to ensure that all business within the city are being equitable in the hiring process. This also involves working and partnering with community organizations to provide access to resources to individuals within the LGBTQ+ community that may need them.

 

As mayor, a Vallas administration will bring all these clear and necessary changes, ensuring that people not only today but for the generations to come are free to be their most authentic self.

We don’t need special protections; we need human protections. And it all starts with the basic respect for human dignity.

*INVESTING IN SAFETY

Police Accountability

Accountability starts at the very top, and the mayor sets the tone. It is about more than just sound bites; it is about leadership, trustworthiness, transparency and partnership.

As the father of two officers and the husband of a former officer, Paul knows that the police force is an integral part of the community. However, he believes the police must act with integrity and compassion in order to best serve, and therefore, strongly supports a zero tolerance policy for corruption and excess force.

Police Staffing & Support

“Even the best supervisor can’t properly account for the actions of 30 individual officers. We need to restore a 10 to 1 ratio.” Chicago’s police department is grossly understaffed. Without the strength of larger numbers, the police force cannot devote the necessary time to a single neighborhood and cannot maintain an adequate supervision hierarchy. Paul’s plan is to develop a state of the art training academy and to increase the force to 14,000 sworn officers. This new staff will include an increased number of supervisors as well as a specialized school unit trained to best serve the needs of at-risk students.
 

Restoring Detectives

74% of Chicago’s homicides go unsolved endangering the city with unprosecuted violent offenders. This issue is solvable. The low rate is in large part due to the police department’s lack of staff and resources. For example, other major cities, like Los Angeles and New York, have more than double our number of police detectives. Paul proposes that the city hire back retired detectives, a common practice, to restore the force to a minimum of 1200. This would not threaten an existing officer’s job, but would offer instead the necessary support to ensure cases are effectively handled.

The Background

Clearance rates on violent crimes, shootings and homicides are at an abysmal all-time low. The detective rank has shrunk to below where it once was, overburdening detectives who are already struggling with limited resources and larger spans of territory to cover.  Judges and prosecutors are demanding more than ever before from law enforcement in criminal cases. Standards for charging a criminal are higher now than ever before.

Because the Bureau of Detectives has shrunk, you have detectives doing “assembly-line” homicides investigations. Assembly-line homicide investigations occur when you have too many cases and not enough detectives or support. If there are enough leads that could result in an arrest, detectives will continue to work the case. If not the detective will move on to the next case leaving the previous case unsolved. This is the casualty of the lack of detective manpower and resources. By hiring back retired detectives or officers with detective experience, the current assembly-line homicide investigations can stop.

The hired back detectives will provide investigative support in the following areas:

– Case review and case management

– Witness follow up

– Subpoena support

– Obtaining digital evidence and evidence coordination

– Transporting of witnesses for interviews or Grand Jury.

– Social media investigations

While there is no substitute on the part of the State’s Attorney’s Office and the courts for aggressive prosecution and long sentences for violent offenders and gun law violators, it begins with an arrest.

To qualify for the position, the retiree would have to have left the department in good standing and be free from any Internal Affairs or Cook County State Attorney investigations upon their retirement. Retired Detectives who return to these investigative support positions would be required to undergo continual training to ensure understanding of current department practices and procedures as well as the most up to date state and local laws.

The are no obstacles to hiring retired detectives

Hiring retired detectives and officers with detective experience would be a fast way to provide the Bureau of Detectives with the additional support and experience the need during these challenging times. These are not replacement employees and will not be filling existing vacancies. There are no obstacles to bringing seasoned experienced and accomplished officers back into fold.

Facts:

– Government agencies, including the CPD, have been hiring back retired employees for years. The retirees do not displace existing employees or fill existing vacant positions but serve to supplement existing resources.

– Major police departments engaging in hire back programs include Denver, Dallas, New York and even London, were the city hired 400 Constables. New York’s public safety surge back in the 90’s included the hiring of over retired 400 detectives.

– City rules regarding residency could be waived as the retirees would be part-time contract employees.

– Health insurance can easily be extended.

– There are no union issues if there is no displacement.

Remember, these are supplemental positions designed to provide additional support. There are no excuses or obstacles for taking this common-sense approach to quickly enhancing detective resources. The city’s response to everything seems to be to cancel more days off, pay more overtime and to move more officers off their beats.

 

Emergency Services

The need for emergency medical services has increased but the number of responders and emergency vehicles has not. Paul will substantially increase the ambulance fleet to meet the demand for service and will create the Chicago Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services within the CFD under a separate command, similarly to New York. Read more about this proposal and its funding

Why is there a shortage of EMS services?

The EMS lacks trained personnel and funding for emergency service vehicles.

These are some of the systemic issues:

– There are a limited number of EMS personnel because of an age cap for EMS-aspiring firefighters. Firefighters can only cross-train for EMS at age 38.

– No preference is given to already-certified EMS candidates applying for open CFD positions.

The CFD needs a Community Home Health Program. Empirical evidence demonstrates it significantly increases the quality of life for patients and reduces the costly use of 911 and emergency room services. This could also be an income-generator for additional EMS ambulances and crews.

– There is a shortage of EMS funding because the CFD has been unable to recover more than 37 percent of its billable revenue.

– CFD does not charge for biohazard clean-up after a motor vehicle accident. This has been a significant source of revenue for several other fire departments nationwide for many years. CFD has failed to adapt.

– CFD has forgone other income-generating opportunities because it does not have the means to compete with private EMS providers that offer services to private events such as concerts, festivals, sporting events, etc.

Paul’s Solutions

– Create a Bureau of EMS Services within the CFD, similar to the existing programs in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston.  This will be led by an EMS Commissioner who will set priorities, develop budget recommendations and manage EMS services.

– Address the inadequacies of the position of “Paramedics in Charge” which would include testing for the position and a pay raise commensurate with its responsibilities.

– Enter into lease agreements with companies to secure and expand the number of modern ambulances available to the CFD EMS unit.

– Immediately lift the age limit of 38 on the training of EMS personnel, expand cross-training and target firefighter candidate recruits who are already EMS qualified.

– Establish an EMS Special Operations unit that will respond to active shooter calls and any calls involving violence or possible violence.

– Introduce full-time EMS Special Operations motorcycle teams to determine if paramedics on motorcycles have value.

– Expand EMS income-generating services by establishing a Community Health Center program to provide federally reimbursable health services to indigent and isolated communities.

– Require that city-supported private events like Lollapalooza, sporting events, etc. use city EMS services when available and feasible.

CTA Safety

Crime on the city’s CTA is at an all time high. In addition to an increase of cameras and “panic” buttons, Paul’s proposal includes a plan to fund a boost in the number of Mass Transit Officers.

Student Safety

To address student safety and the widespread abuse reported by the Chicago Tribune's recent expose, Paul's platform includes are overhaul of the CPS's current safety protocol. Paul calls for a specialized School Patrol Division that would be comprehensively trained, from deescalation tactics to the identification of sex trafficking. He also proposes leveraging current technology and social media channels in order to provide students with confidential abuse reporting and intends to harness the assets of state and local organizations for aggressive crisis intervention.
 

*INVESTING IN OPPORTUNITY

Resolving the Pension Funding Issue

Paul's plan will fully fund the city’s pension systems while balancing the budget and capping property taxes while freezing fees and fines. The plan does not reduce benefits for either new or old employees.

The Plan

While there is much talk of a “grand compromise” to be reached with labor, state and local governments and the business community to amend the Constitution to address the city’s pension funding needs, it is unlikely to happen even if Governor-elect Pritzker had not voiced his opposition to such an amendment. As for the talk of changing the benefits for new employees who would not be protected by the Constitution, that has already been done. Employees hired after 2010 became Tier 2 pension participants at far lower benefits. Tier 2 employees contribute much more than what it takes to pay their own benefits and are, in fact, subsidizing Tier 1 retirees. This, in itself, could create future legal problems. It is highly unlikely there would be support for a further diminishing of new employee future pension benefits. Paul oppose any changes to new and old employee benefits.

The underlying pension funding problem is in large part the result of inequities in State funding which discriminated against Chicago Teachers and the city’s irresponsible decision to secure, through State legislation, a “Pension Holiday,” that allowed it to skip payments to all city-funded pension systems. The Police, Fire, Municipal Employees, and Laborers were all victimized by the pension holiday. The city also secured a pension holiday for the Chicago Teachers Retirement System. (It is ironic that the leadership of a number of unions’ leadership has orchestrated the endorsements of candidates who supported the underfunding of the systems.)

Paul’s Pension Record

During Paul’s tenure as City Budget Director, municipal workers pension funding levels were above 90%. City laborers had enough assets to cover 133% of their liabilities. Even City police pensions, which had been traditionally underfunded, hovered around 70%, and on the upswing. During my six-year tenure as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Teachers Retirement System’s (CTRS) pension funding level rose from 80% funded to 104%. Along with building cash balances of almost $1 billion when Paul left and keeping debt service on long-term debt obligations at only 5% of the systems annual revenues, the system was considered a national model for effective financial management and fiscal health. The rating agencies acknowledged this by awarding an unprecedented twelve bond rating upgrades in just six years. We also had an agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union that was backed by State statute requiring the district make the payments needed to keep the system fully funded on an “actuarial basis.” That agreement was not fully adhered to after 2004 when the funding level fell below 90%, and was totally ignored when the City successfully pursued legislation after the 2008 Great Recession to defer employer pension contributions to not only the CTRS but to all City employee systems, Police, Fire, Municipal Employees, and Laborers.

 

The Pension Funding Obligation

Currently, the city contribution to employee pensions stands at $1.228 billion. State statute requires that City funding is ramped up to $2.161 billion by 2023. This is almost a billion dollars more than the City is contributing now. The City must meet its obligations because the State Constitution mandates promised employee benefits. There can be no changes unless the Illinois State Constitution is changed. Nothing short of City bankruptcy would circumvent this mandate, and any bankruptcy route will be a prolonged process that would do serious damage to the City’s business climate and be subject to years of expensive litigation.

The city has four years to ramp up to their funding level. This gives Chicago time to implement a financial plan that will include a practical, reasonable agenda to secure more State support and to take a series of actions that can secure reasonable savings in the city and city-controlled agency budgets that can be freed up to meet the pension payment obligations.

 

The Four-Year Ramp-Up

Paul have developed just such a plan. The plan includes supporting a legislative agenda that protects the statutory local government share of any increase in the State Income Tax that Governor Pritzker and the legislature enact, restores the illegal diversion of Corporate Personal Property Tax revenues that occurred during the previous administration, and phases in, over ten years, full State funding equity for the Chicago Teachers Retirement System. The first two items are things every municipality and county will be supporting and could be phased in over the next four years during the pension ramp-up.

 

The Springfield Agenda

This Springfield agenda alone will cover more than half the funding needed to complete the statutory pension funding ramp-up. The remaining obligation could be met through savings realized in the city budget. Paul has identified a number of specific budget areas where the growth in city non-pension spending could be reduced over the next five years to provide the balance of what is needed to meet the city’s pension obligations. These areas include overtime, contractual services, worker’s compensation, healthcare, and more. Just a five percent reduction in base spending over the next five years would enable the City to meet the balance of the pension funding ramp up. By 2023, the State mandated annual increases in pension contributions will be much more moderate and financially manageable – not only as a result of the almost doubling of contributions, but because of the increasing numbers of Tier 2 employees in the system.

While some have advocated for the earmark of revenues from a City Casino or a tax on cannabis to fund pensions, Paul would be cautious about making pension funding contingent on uncertain and unproven revenue sources that would at very best provide barely a fourth of what would be needed to meet the city’s pension funding obligations. Furthermore, we have been waiting for casinos for years and, even if finally approved, the full the revenue impact would be uncertain and not immediate. Funding for pensions should not be tied to unreliable revenue sources. Pension funding should be in the form of a “direct intercept” in the budget of the actuarial determined annual amount needed to ensure the system’s pension funds are on a 30-year full funding schedule.

 

The TIF Pension Funding Option

As a contingency against delays or partial success in implementing the Springfield agenda and a hedge against unanticipated expenditure increases the city could consider issuing a Pension Obligation Bond financed through the revenue windfall from expiring TIFs. This would protect the city’s existing revenue base from further securitization, while providing a substantial increase in the amount invested in the retirement systems, thereby significantly reducing the increase in the annual contribution.

A city-wide TIF would be created to capture the revenue from expiring TIFs, the revenues of which could be dedicated to pension funding. The city would have the flexibility of using the revenues to immediately finance the POB to immediately improve the health of the system the unfunded. Even if the TIF was not used to finance a POB, the dedication of future TIF revenues would have a positive impact in the calculation of the long-term unfunded liability. Given the city’s direct funding of the Chicago Teachers Retirement System, the Pension TIF could earmark all but the county’s share of the revenue from expiring TIF’s.

 

Reforming Pension Investment Practices

Resolving the pension funding issue must also include reforming pension fund investment practices. This involves creating a Pension Investment Board of local investment professionals and taking the pay-to-play politics out of investment decisions. Often politicized and all too often lacking in real investment expertise, pension fund investments have historically produced disappointing returns and have sometimes been scandalous. There should be a consolidation of pension investments for cost efficiencies and to ensure the highest rate of return. Although data from the pension funds are hard to compare because returns vary across time periods, it is not unreasonable to think that if all the big pension funds in Illinois paid fees and produced investment returns that were achieved by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), which is 90% funded, the additional earnings would approach $1 billion statewide. If you had a board of Chicago’s most accomplished local investment professionals making investment decisions, do you think they would have been the recipient of tens of millions of dollars in substandard investment strategy that cost the police pension $54 million?

 

Outcomes

With Chicago’s pension funding issue addressed and its commitment to its public employees met, the city’s “non-pension” expenditure obligations needed to fund city services could be secured through natural revenue growth allowing property taxes to be permanently capped for homeowners, landlords and businesses, at no more than 5% or the rate of inflation whichever is less. Fees could be frozen, and fines reduced to no more than the cost of the license or ticket. Additional revenues from a casino, sports betting and video poker could be dedicated to neighborhood infrastructure improvements, and services and proceeds from the tax on cannabis could be dedicated to rebuilding the critically needed social service infrastructure in poor communities like mental health and wellness, health care, legal aid, family counseling, drug and opioid addiction.

 

Ethics Reform

Paul will end pay-to-play culture at City Hall and ensure transparency, accountability, and integrity in governance.

Paul Vallas’ decades long reputation as a highly ethical, transparent and honest public servant has been reinforced with every position he has held, from his position as Executive Director of the Illinois Economic and Fiscal Commission all the way through each of the school districts he had led. He has presided over multi-billion dollar budgets funded by taxpayer dollars with complete integrity. He is highly qualified and can be fully trusted to implement the ethical reforms he has been discussing since the very beginning of this campaign – prior to the entry into the race of candidates who declined to challenged Rahm Emanuel and the political status quo. Unlike other candidates, he has no need to attempt to “reset” his campaign with a last minute “ethics plan” – ethical checks and balances run through his plan on every subject. Specifically, to clean up city government and restore the public’s faith in both its public servants and their processes, Vallas will:

  • Institute term limits for both City Council and the mayor. Vallas actively participated in former Governor Pat Quinn’s Summer 2018 petition campaign to get a ballot referendum on term limits. Vallas was the first mayoral candidate to demand term limits for all Chicago elected officials.
  • Implement rotating committee chairmanships for City Council committees to avoid the consolidation of power that contributes to City Hall’s current immoral pay-to-play culture. Each Alderman would be limited to no more than four consecutive years as committee chairman.
  • Audit all committee chairmanship assignments to determine which chairmen should remain and which chairmen should be replaced and with whom, ensuring appointees reflect the diversity of the city and have the support of the community.
  • De-politicize zoning decisions and the issuance of building permits – just as he did when he was CEO of CPS − by removing the authority to award construction contracts out of the highly publicized Public Building Commission.
    • Specifically, Vallas will remove aldermanic privilege that allows Alderman to have political power over zoning and licensing issues in their wards.
    • These are administrative tasks that for decades have been influenced by “clout” and favoritism and that practice will end.
  • Remove workman’s compensation from the Finance Committee to the executive branch of city government. All executive functions will be placed in the executive branch where they can be executed with full transparency to the public.
  • Institute rules prohibiting outside work or business for elected city officials and for those serving on any board of directors that oversees public money.
  • Require officials and board members abstaining from votes due to “conflicts of interest” to detail those conflicts, and make them available to the public.
  • “Revolving Door Ban” – prohibition on lobbying for two years following the termination of an elected or appointed position – including city employees departing Shakman exempt positions.
  • Prohibition on hiring family members to Shakman exempt positions.    
  • Greater transparency in the city’s procurement process and contracting – with full transparency on all contract awards.
  • Change the culture in the city’s FOIA office – from one of routinely fighting FOIA’s from the media or private citizens to a culture of immediate and complete compliance except as prohibited by law or personnel regulations. This includes providing additional resources to ensure FOIS requests are timely answered.
  • Continue to study best practices for municipal governments and strengthen ethics rules and quality management systems for ensuring Chicago meets or exceeds the standards of any major U.S. city.

 

 

 

Transportation Plan

Paul will focus on maintaining and enhancing existing infrastructure. We will ensure that Chicago’s transport systems are safe, reliable, affordable, seamless and equitable to support the city’s changing needs.

Effective public transportation is vital to Chicago’s economic success and will be one of Paul’s core priorities for growing the city. Each Chicago neighborhood has different and ever-changing needs, as demonstrated by the arrival of ride-sharing programs and scooters, for just two examples. We cannot waste limited resources on unrealistic ideas that will only serve a limited few.

The Vallas Administration will focus on maintaining and enhancing existing infrastructure. We will ensure that Chicago’s transport systems are safe, reliable, affordable, seamless and equitable to support the city’s changing needs.

Goals

Creating an environment where customers feel safer and more comfortable, free from any threat of crime or harm.

Improved  travel time on the Blue Line to and from O’Hare Airport.

Relaying relevant  information that gives customers accurate, real-time information about  delays and options for alternate transit.

Improving paratransit (Pace) in Chicago.

Creating a rigorous East/West Bus Improvement Program, by examining and addressing the root causes of negative trends in ridership and finding low-cost solutions that would increase bus speeds, and improve on time performance and reliability. The solutions must be tailored to the uniqueness of each bus route. For example, on Route 79 (Western to the 79thStreet Red Line station) potentially placing a “pop up barrier” to prevent cars from pulling into the bus lane and blocking/delayed bus embarkation and disembarkation during rush hours could be one such relatively low cost solution.

Prioritize expanded transit service to the Far South Side of Chicago must be priority. Expansion of service on the Chicago Metra Electric line is the most feasible and cost-effective way to make that happen. The Vallas Administration will insist that CTA and Metra put aside any turf battles and work together to create a viable plan to make this happen. Meanwhile, we should continue to explore options for extension of the Red Line. However, given the $2.3 billion price tag and the need for roughly half of that money to come from the Federal government, it is unlikely that project can come fruition any time soon.

Contemplate and coordinating the city’s economic development objectives with all investments in road and transit infrastructure.

Relieve congestion and creating opportunities  on the West and South Sides.

Insisting that each agency create performance metrics  to track improvements and challenges in their operations that are not just focused within each agencies’ own procedures, but consider the system holistically  to address integration and ease-of-use for  customers who use multiple modes.

With the growing popularity of ride and car sharing, bicycling, other non-traditional transportation modes, Chicago should do all it can to encourage transportation options that reduce Chicago’s carbon footprint.

 

Making Chicago’s Public Transit System Safe

A Vallas Administration will:

Test and implement next-generation intercoms, such as the type adopted by the  New York City Transit system.

Deploy a “help point” to allow transit riders to contact the police or station agent with the push of a button.

Invest in more “creature comforts” through the L system and high-traffic bus facilities to improve lighting, signage and amenities.

Dedicate $10 million from the City’s budget and leverage it with other State and Federal funds to increase overall capital resources. These funds will go towards making our streets safe for the most vulnerable road users and continuing the Vision Zero program to decrease roadway deaths due to traffic crashes.  Capital safety measures would include protected bike lanes, bump-outs for sidewalks to shorten the distance pedestrians need to cross (this is particularly useful in areas heavily trafficked by seniors, disabled individuals and children), and speed bumps and round abouts, among other traffic calming devices.

Making Chicago’s Public Transit System Reliable

A Vallas Administration will:

Work with CDOT and CTA to increase capacity for city buses and bus on-time performance.

Pilot low-cost pop-up bus lanes, off-board fare payment and traffic signal priority programs in targeted overcrowded areas and at transfer stations where there are large numbers of bus-to-train riders.

Support CTA’s Blue Line Modernization.

Study the feasibility of reinstalling skip-stop services, initially on the Blue Line to O’Hare. Based on results, this could be effective on the Red Line as well.

Initiate a public relations campaign to implement better queue management practices and culture on buses and especially trains.  A dedicated campaign to create a ridership culture where the public understands the value of staying back on the platform, to step all the way into cars and buses and staying clear of doors will speed embarkation and disembarkation to keep trains moving faster and get travelers to their destinations faster.

Improve proactive communications between CTA and CDOT headquarters.

Making Chicago’s Public Transit System Seamless

A Vallas Administration will:

Work with CTA, CDOT, Divvy Bike Share, RTA, Airports, Amtrak, rideshare services and parking lots and insist that all investments are better coordinated to meet customers’ needs.

Ensure that all mayoral appointees to all transportation-related boards boards include a customer and community advocate.

Conduct a comprehensive study of dockless bike share and scooter share services.

Create a CDOT Director of First-Mile/Last-Mile Mobility to ensure that accessibility.

Consider all opportunities to improve paratransit for our customers, while we ensure that customers of all physical abilities are able to use these new opportunities.

Convert available space in L stations and bus transfer stations to community spaces by building mixed-use retail and civic space.

 

Making Chicago’s Public Transit System Equitable

A Vallas Administration will:

Invest fare revenue in a rigorous East/West Bus Improvement program.

Increase off-peak service frequency on the South Side Metra corridors (Metra Electric and Rock Island).

Coordinate economic development objectives and investments in road and transit infrastructure.

Ensure community leaders provide input.

Incentivize compact mixed-use, walkable and equitable transit-oriented developments that improve access for residents and businesses to all areas of Chicago and suburbs.

Making Chicago’s Public Transit System Affordable

A Vallas Administration will:

Work with transit advocates and CTA to pursue strategies that ensure transit service is affordable and accessible to Chicago residents throughout the city.

Integrate a discounted/free transit fare program in a wraparound social service program for workforce development and housing insecurity.

Incorporate “ability to pay” evaluation into fare evasion enforcement.

 

 

A Balanced Budget

“For Chicago to succeed, it is critical that city leadership creates, empowers, and maintains long-term stability.” While budgets aren’t the flashiest of campaign topics, a balanced city budget is critical for the support of programs essential to Chicago’s growth and ultimate success. Utilizing his experience as both Chicago’s Budget Director and Finance Director, Paul has put together the most detailed budget proposal of any candidate to date.

Roadmap to Fiscal Stability, pt.1

Structural Deficit (by 2023) $1.05 billion
Our Target of New Revenue and Savings (by 2023) $1.75 billion

State Agenda
• Ending CPPRT Diversion: $121 million
• 10 year plan to secure fair funding for CTRS: $250 million
• Fair share from Local Gov. Distribution Fund: $100 million
• Casino and Gaming Tax Revenue: $250 million
• Cannabis Tax Revenue: $50 million

Total: $771 million

Roadmap to Fiscal Stability, pt. 2

Total Target (by 2023) $1.75 billion

City Agenda -$771 million
Remaining Target $979 million

City Agenda Savings
• Property Tax Increases (capped at 5% or rate of inflation*): $250 million
• Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs): $100 million
• Tax Increment Financing: $100 million
• Natural Revenue Growth: TBD

Total: $450 million

Roadmap to Fiscal Stability, pt. 3

Total Target (by 2023) $1.75 billion

State and City Agenda -$1.221 billion

Remaining Target $529 million

Income Generating Activities
• Investment Equity Funds (Awards, contracts, grants, tax breaks, TIF): TBD

• Monetizing the City Departments (eg Fire/EMT): $50 million
• Enterprise Funds: $50 million
• Total: $100 million

Expenditure Reductions
• Expenditures: $330 million
• Contractual: $100 million

Total: $430 million

Total (by 2023): $1.751 billion

 

 

 

Opportunity Zones

One universally-applauded program to emerge from the controversial 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act is the Federal Opportunity Zone Program. This new program will offer tax incentives to encourage businesses to invest in underfinanced regions. Paul is ready to make full use of this program in order to benefit Chicago’s most neglected neighborhoods. With a creative use of TIF funds, he plans to make Chicago the premier city for Opportunity Zone investment, and he confidently estimates an investment of $10 billion within his first term as mayor.
In the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress included a program that holds massive potential for spurring real investment in economically challenged communities around America. The program is called the Opportunity Fund, or the Qualified Opportunity Zone Program.

This bipartisan program provides massive tax benefits to investors that invest in designated, economically-challenged areas throughout the U.S. Chicago has designated 133 zones that are approved in the national program, out of a total of about 8,700 zones nationwide. Investors around the country are very excited for this program. It is designed so that the federal government provides all the attractive incentives, not the states or our city.

Chicago possesses great potential for this program. With a growing core downtown, a vast public transportation system, and 133 designated zones for investors to consider, there is a wealth of opportunity for our city under this program. An issue we face is that our 133 zones in Chicago currently compete for investor money and subsequent projects against the other 8,700 zones in the U.S. That said, we have something that is much more valuable that we can commit to make sure that this program produces $10 billion of new investment.

Affordable Housing

Very little has be done to create new affordable housing in Chicago. Even more damaging has been the city’s failure to help homeowners and renters find ways to afford to stay in their long-time communities that are undergoing rapid appreciation. To address this, Paul pledges to boost affordable housing throughout Chicago by facilitating the creation of tens of thousands of new affordable and accessible housing units through an overhaul of city building and zoning codes. He also plans to shield existing homeowners, renters, and businesses in communities threatened by gentrification by protecting them from dramatic increases in property taxes and fees.

Vallas Plan For Accelerating Construction of New Housing

Paul’s strategy is simple: spur affordable housing by accelerating the construction of new housing citywide. This will be done while capping property tax increases for existing residents in gentrifying areas.

Despite the hard work of numerous affordable housing groups and advocates, Emanuel has failed to produce a workable comprehensive strategy to address the affordable housing needs in Chicago, which must include managing affordability in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods.

Chicago has been ignoring a vast untapped potential for a major expansion of housing options all over the city. This is a major housing opportunity whose infrastructure is already largely in place and could benefit both prospective tenants as well as current property owners who are struggling to pay the skyrocketing property taxes, water and sewer fees, and other expenses that have mushroomed under Mayor Emanuel.

A centerpiece of the Vallas plan is to provide new affordable housing to make it easier for landlords to convert unfinished or unproductive spaces to apartments. According to analysis of Cook County property records, Chicago is home to as many as 130,000 apartment buildings, ranging from two-flats to multi-unit buildings of 24 apartments or more. The overriding majority of those properties have unfinished garden-level space which are ideally suited for conversion that could provide upwards of 175,000 new housing units throughout the city.

 Further, the city has more than 700 linear miles of vacant ground-level retail space. Many analysts believe that this space will never be occupied by retailers due to the shift to internet retailing. The city needs to lead efforts to explore how amendments to the zoning ordinance could facilitate converting these spaces to residential use.

Paul proposes that the initial stage of the garden unit apartment program be limited to the city’s transit-oriented development (TOD) zones around mass transit stations. Traditionally, parking availability has been the greatest concern for aldermen and residents when discussions of increasing housing density is proposed. By initially limiting these units to existing TOD zones, we can carefully assess the impact this program is having on communities and adjust, as needed, as we expand. 

Also, the benefits of the city’s current TOD policy generally accrue to major developers, typically developments of 25 units or more. By comparison, the Paul’s proposal would help spread the financial benefits of TOD to a large number of smaller property owners.

Affordable housing is not only a problem for poorer communities but is becoming a major problem for middle and upper-middle income communities as well. Regardless of the number government initiatives to expand affordable housing in Chicago, the City’s long- term needs cannot be accomplished without removing the obstacles and barriers currently restricting new construction.

With an establishment of a City Housing Trust (CHT), the opportunities to provide expanded affordable and specialty housing would secure unoccupied and abandoned buildings, making them available to community based organizations, local developers and faith based organizations. This trust would be available if the space is used to provide affordable housing, special housing for veterans, the homeless, veterans, displaced youth and young adults, victims of domestic violence. The CHT could also provide financing for rehab and award temporary property tax abatements during the rehab and for an extended period depending on the buildings residential use. The city would retain an equity share in the property. 

Vallas Plan for Capping Individual Property Taxes

The highlight of Paul’s proposal to protect existing homeowners, renters and businesses from the adverse effects of sudden large increases in property taxes would be to cap and defer property taxes on existing homeowners and landlords to prevent them from being priced out of their homes just because their neighborhoods are rapidly appreciating.

Chicago Property Owners and Small Businesses are about to get hammered by what will amount to be the biggest property tax increases in our 185-year history.  This will result in tremendous pain for all Chicago property owners as well as the overall Chicago economy. These increases are draconian, and what’s worse is the lack of transparency. 

 Property owners have received their property tax reassessment invoices from the office of Assessor Joe Berrios.  Many people are shocked to find that the assessed valuation of their properties have gone up between 20 to 50%, and some as high as 70% from just 3 years ago.  

 In February taxpayers are going to get another shock when they receive their final tax invoices showing their actual property tax numbers with even greater increases in the actual amounts they owe.  

 While everyone will suffer, our homeowners, the middle class and small businesses will be most directly affected.  

 Regardless of what Assessor Berrios says our homes are worth, the reality is that home prices are stagnant or declining, leaving more than 116,000 Chicago homeowners owing more on their mortgages than their home is worth – more underwater mortgages than New York,  Los Angeles, and Boston combined.

 The first step in addressing the skyrocketing real estate taxes is to give the citizens of Chicago an honest explanation.  That simply hasn’t happened.  Chicagoans deserve transparency into how these numbers are being calculated and when this will all end.  People cannot plan for massive uncertainty.  

Vallas Plan for Addressing the Skyrocketing taxes:

1. A cap of 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, on property taxes on owner occupied residences, apartments and businesses.

– Rate of inflation is commonly 2-3%, meaning this is in effect a 2-3% cap a majority of the time.

– This would protect Chicago homeowners and renters in rapidly gentrifying areas.

– Enactment of a cap would not have the adverse impact of shifting the tax burden to other non-residential property owners, as increasing the homeowner’s exemption has often done.

– This is because the cap does not reduce the taxable base but merely limits the tax increase to an affordable level.

2. Allow seniors to freeze their property taxes until the property is sold.

– A major problem in gentrifying neighborhoods is that low-and moderate-income seniors are choosing to sell because they cannot afford rising property taxes in gentrifying neighborhoods and cannot afford the upkeep on their homes.

– An existing State of Illinois Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program, available for low-income seniors, could be expanded and vigorously marketed in gentrifying neighborhoods.

– The program could also be extended to seniors at higher income levels who own and live in multiple family homes in at-risk areas, who keep their rents affordable.

– Prioritize keeping families in their homes and simplifying the process for accessing and renewing available tax relief programs.

– Priority should be given to keeping residents in their homes by amending tax delinquency and providing support to avoid forecloses. One way would be for homeowners and landlords to exchange equity share in lieu of taxes or to allow to secure the property at tax sale and allow the residents to remain.

– There is also an already existing array of programs designed to reduce the impact of property taxes through exemptions, credits, grants or deferrals. The process for accessing these programs is both cumbersome and confusing and the programs currently must be renewed annually. This imposes a hardship on the elderly especially. I will simplify access and make renewal automatic.

3. Partner with nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups to provide support and infrastructure for homeowner appeals. 

– Unlike the infrastructure of income tax clinics that help many low-income families prepare their tax return and claim the EITC, there is no similar infrastructure to help low-income families appeal their property tax assessments. 

– The assessor’s office does outreach, but fact remains that low-income homeowner’s appeal less frequently than upper income taxpayers. 

– Be aggressive in opposing property tax appeals by large commercial property owners and  challenge under-assessments of large commercial properties.

– As Crain’s, the Chicago business magazine pointed out, many downtown commercial properties are shockingly under-assessed. 

– The real estate tax system is a prime example of an industry of politically connected lobbyists and attorneys who have set up shop making hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to appeal their client’s property taxes, shortchanging schools and shifting the burden to homeowners. 

– Accurately assessing commercial properties would help shift the tax base away from homeowners.

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