How Will They Pay For It All?

The Chicago Tribune is curious about how Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Public Schools plan to pay for the substantial raises they’ve given Chicago teachers as a result of the teachers’ strike:

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools leaders have come up with enough cash to pay for the first year of new union contracts, relying on a couple of one-time windfalls to patch up the spending plan.

But for the next four years, they’re taking a bit of a leap by counting on money that’s not guaranteed to materialize. The district is banking on the state to keep its pledge to increase school funding, which can change year to year. CPS also is relying on its own ability to significantly raise property taxes, which assumes a healthy economy.

CPS officials said their revenue projections are based on historical trends and noted that the state is committed by law to increasing funding. The contracts “are responsible and affordable based on conservative assumptions about our finances and anticipated revenue,” district spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement.

I couldn’t help but wonder which “historical trends” she was looking at? I doubt it was population trends. Since 1950 Detroit’s population has declined by two-thirds as has St. Louis’s, Cleveland’s, and most other Midwestern cities. The only major Midwestern cities whose populations have increased since 1950 of which I’m aware are Indianapolis and Kansas City.

Chicago’s population has declined by one-third since 1950. If it follows the patterns of Detroit, St. Louis, and so on, its population could fall below 2 million for the first time in a century. The most difficult thing about those teachers’ raises is that the fewer remaining people of Chicago will be stuck with them in the form of pensions long after those teachers have retired or been RIF’ed due to Chicago’s declining population.

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