Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget passed smoothly Tuesday with an overwhelming approval of an $8.6 billion spending plan. The proposal includes higher taxes on telephone bills, ride-hailing, and large-venue amusements, along with previously approved taxes on property and water and sewer bills.
The only City Council votes against the 2018 budget were cast by Aldermen Scott Waguespack (32nd), John Arena (45th) and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).
Ramirez-Rosa accused Emanuel of digging into “the pockets of those who can least afford to have their pockets picked.”
“Working and poor Chicagoans are tired of being nickel-and-dimed. I’m voting no because there’s a different path…Let us, instead, ask the rich and powerful corporations to pay their fair share,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
Waguespack also chimed in on the class warfare theme as he discussed the need to come up with more than $600 million in 2020 and $1 billion by 2022 to keep all four city employee pensions funds on the road to 90 percent funding.
“We’ve got to get down to Springfield…and fight for a progressive income tax, for a city income tax that’s going to put us on the right track,” he said. “We cannot sit here with these kinds of budget and think we’re gonna make it five years from now. We simply won’t.”
Waguespack also addressed the mayor’s plan to hand over perpetual subsidies to the CTA and Chicago Public Schools without giving the City Council legal oversight over those agencies.
Emanuel’s plan calls for raising ride-hailing fees by 15-cents-a-ride next year and by another nickel in 2019 and shipping the $16 million and $21 million in annual revenues to the CTA to bankroll $180 million in capital improvements.
An additional $80 million would go to CPS to pay for security, Safe Passage and after-school programs, with $66 million of that money coming from a tax-increment financing surplus. The remaining $14 million would come from the corporate fund.
“We’re gonna give $16 million carte blanche to the CTA from our city coffers with zero Council oversight. And we already know how the CTA treats us when it comes to bus stops . . . and the routes that our constituents need,” Waguespack said. “Likewise, giving CPS additional funds without oversight cannot be justified under the current budget and current unelected and unaccountable school board.