In May, 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled our State constitution
that the current level of government pensions cannot be changed.
I, and many other public servants, disagree with this ruling.
Further, a law passed in Springfield in 2010 (SB 3538, also called Public Act 96-1495), says the City of Chicago is
mandated to raise the property tax levy
so police and fire pension plans reach 90% funding for the current level of benefits.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruling and the funding law are the reason why property tax increases are being proposed this year to cover the $12 Billion underfunding in Chicago police and fire pensions.
To raise $428 million in pension payments for 2015 and 2016, the Mayor's budget proposes a 7% property tax hike this year (and a total of 12% increases spread over the next four years). To moderate the impact, the Mayor has proposed to double the homeowner exemption. But the exemption requires the approval of Springfield, and it has little impact on the long term homeowners of our ward who have seen the "paper value" of their homes skyrocket just as they transition to living on a fixed income.
I strongly believe that if homeowner tax relief is offered in the budget, it must be fair, equitable, and it must reach our long term homeowners.
this week I introduced an ordinance to protect vulnerable home owners
. Eleven other aldermen joined me in calling for
a rebate for those homeowners
. A rebate does not require approval in Springfield nor can it thwarted by a gubernatorial veto.
While the situation is dire, I believe the fight for pension reform at the State level will continue.
Modest changes to pensions could lessen the financial burden on our city's taxpayers and allowed the state, city and county to recover economic vitality and still secure the retirements of city workers.
I entered government to promote a more responsible way of governing. Chicago must meet its obligations, but taxpayers deserve government that works smarter for those who pay for it. In the coming days, I will continue to fight for fairness in tax relief as well as seek a budget that puts our city on a solid footing.
As always, I appreciate and welcome your feedback.