Emanuel Looks to Raise Property Taxes for Teacher Pensions, Sooner Than Later

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is promising to raise the city’s property taxes – possibly by $170 million annually – to help fund teacher pensions.

The plan has been in the works for months, but there was an added twist this week: now, Emanuel plans to move forward with the tax hike even before state government decides whether to get involved in the school system’s finances.

The proposed hike comes just months after another big property tax increase.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

[Emanuel is] promising to forge ahead with the school property tax increase even before Springfield does its part.

And he’s vowing to deliver the 26 votes needed for City Council approval of that increase, even though aldermen voted four months ago to raise property taxes by $588 million for police and fire pensions and school construction.

[…]

A top mayoral aide said Tuesday that a City Council vote may not be required after all. It all depends on how state legislation reinstating the teacher pension levy is worded.

If the language is the same as it was before the teacher pension levy was abolished in 1995, the City Council would be off the hook. The appointed Chicago Board of Education could wear the jacket.

As for Emanuel’s promise to forge ahead with the school property tax increase even before the state holds up its end of the so-called “grand bargain,” City Hall pointed to the commitment made by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) to revise the state school aid formula in a way that delivers $200 million in “pension parity” to Chicago Public Schools. In his State of the State address, Rauner promised to work with Cullerton.

“The state is working on it. The governor is working on it. The speaker is not opposed. The pieces don’t line up in order the way you want them to. But it’s part of an agreement being negotiated with the teachers,” the Emanuel aide said.

Several alderman quotes by the Sun-Times were starkly opposed to approving another property tax increase.

 

Photo by bitsorf via Flickr CC License

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