While the Mayor’s finance staff are set to begin a series of private budget briefings for aldermen this afternoon, the Council Progressive Caucus plans to advance its own budget ideas in a press conference this morning at 11:30 a.m. in City Hall Room 201A. The plan will raise, “millions of dollars in an equitable manner,” said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) on Chicago Tonight last night.
The City budget is typically introduced and voted on in September, so today’s presser and budget briefing marks the beginning of a process overshadowed by Springfield’s own stalled and broken budget process. Because Chicago’s budget gap is so yawning, with a shortfall in the billions of dollars and much of the gap coming from unavoidable debt and pensions service, the city will ultimately have to turn to major new revenue sources, like a big property tax increase (think 25-40% increase), a financial services tax or creation of a services sales tax, all of which would require approval from the state legislature and Governor Bruce Rauner.
In addition, large fund transfers from state government, such as the municipal portion of state sales tax for the city and the state portion of CPS’ budget are likely to remain in the air through August and into September. Since major portions of the city’s and CPS’ operating budgets will be unclear for some time–as well as Gov. Rauner’s likelihood of approving major new taxes–the city will be forced to devise and maybe even vote on a budget that will become one more pawn in the Springfield budget fight. One scenario discussed is that Council votes on a budget with major portions unfunded by the state, and then fill them in later as part of the larger Statehouse budget scrum.
In short: The Cloud Tax introduced earlier this month is a harbinger of what’s to come, as city budget leaders struggle to find as many home rule taxes and fees they can, so the city can reduce the amount of money–and political capital–needed from Springfield. Expect a lot of ideas to come over the transom this month.