Chicago Mayor Lightfoot has gotten her budget passed. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Chicago aldermen on Tuesday narrowly approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $12.8 billion “pandemic budget” for 2021, a package that will fund city government through the next fiscal year while closing a projected $1.2 billion budget deficit spurred by coronavirus pandemic-driven revenue losses to municipal coffers.
Among other things, the package includes a $94 million property tax hike, as well as increases in fees and fines. Aldermen voted 28-22 in support of Lightfoot’s property tax increase and 29-21 to pass her budget.
I’ve read through the budget. It relies primarily on borrowing and a generous application of smoke and mirrors to balance.
Borrowing implies one or all of three things:
- You believe the city will grow.
- You plan to consume less in the future.
- You plan to tax more in the future.
It is a terrible strategy for a shrinking city like Chicago. And it assumes that the credit rating agencies won’t lower Chicago’s bond rating to junk, effectively cutting off the spigot. Does anyone believe that Chicago’s elected officials intend to spend less in the future? It’s absurd on its face—they have shown no such inclination in the past. That suggests that the plan is to tax more forever and ever amen.
No public employees will be laid off as a result of this budget. No union employees’ wages will be cut as a result of this budget and non-union employees will be required to take five unpaid furlough days, a nominal reduction.
To place this in some personal perspective over the last ten months I have worked harder than at any time in my career. I have taken a steep pay cut. Every single day I have wondered whether I would be laid off. My house is worth about what it was 20 years ago. During that period our property taxes have more than tripled.
The clear message is that we’re not all in this together. If you’re a public employee you’re prospering, safe, and secure. If you’re not a public employee, not so much.
To my newly-elected alderman. You had one job: hold the line on taxes. Instead you voted with the mayor. Don’t expect to be re-elected.