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Stupidest controversies ever

Thursday, Sep 29, 2011

* Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he’s against this tax hike idea proposed by the Chicago Inspector General, but that hasn’t stopped the fear mongering

Chicago officials this week tossed around the idea of a commuter tax — charging suburbanites who work in the city of Chicago a 1 percent income tax — as a way to bring in additional revenue.

The idea was one of a list of potential cost cuts and money makers compiled by the city’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson that could reduce a budget shortfall.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ruled out tax hikes for now, but some aldermen favored the commuter tax notion.

The idea didn’t sit well with commuters, however, nor potential commuters.

Andrea Laue of Mokena, who has been commuting to Chicago for 15 years for work, said she thinks the income tax idea is “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Since I work in the city, I am already buying food and drinks, retail items, and eating out at restaurants, and paying the higher city and county taxes that are imposed on most of these items. By working in the city, I am already generating revenue for the city, and now they want to penalize me for it,” Laue said. “This on top of Metra talking about raising the cost of train tickets. I’m not going to be able to afford to work downtown anymore!”

Not gonna happen. Period. End of story. Stop frightening people, for Pete’s sake.

* And after increasing the income tax and voting to raise electricity rates, how much chance does this tax idea have in Springfield? Slim to none

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is floating a unique plan to help solve the city’s budget problems. He is pushing a proposal to lower the sales tax, but the mayor also wants to increase the number of items and services that are taxed.

Under the mayor’s proposal, everyone from barbers to lawyers will have to pay the sales tax.

“I’m not for a toll on Lake Shore Drive, I am not for a citywide income tax, I’m not for increasing property taxes, I’m not for increasing sales tax,” he said. […]

Any change in the sales tax formula would require approval by the Illinois General Assembly and the governor’s signature. The mayor revealed Wednesday morning that part of the process is already in motion.

“I have advocated and I’ve talked to the speaker and Senate president about lowering the sales tax by expanding what is, in fact, taxed,” Emanuel.

First of all, even if they do a service tax, it won’t include barbers. They’ve killed just about every attempt to tax their services in the history of the republic. No way will that happen. Also, this

…it’s one of those ideas that’s been kicking around the State Capitol literally for decades. But it’s gone nowhere. Retail store owners dream that the rate affecting them might actually go down, making them more competitive with Indiana. But a man who represents 23,000 stores across Illinois is skeptical.

“Mayor Emanuel’s been very successful in his first 140 days in office. But I’ve been around here a long time. People have talked about broadening the base for the 35 or so years I’ve been around. And it’s not gotten done yet,” said David Vite of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

And then there’s this bit of passive aggressiveness

A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton confirmed Cullerton did speak with the mayor and supports the concept of reducing but expanding the sales tax. In fact, a similar bill actually passed the Senate two years ago, but was never called in the House.

Emanuel would have to use all of his chits for a very long time to get this passed. Don’t bet on it.

* And check out the Chicago Tribune editorial today. No over the top tea partyesque ravings, no threats of massive retaliation, just a fairly reasonable editorial about the Inspector General’s revenue ideas

Give [Inspector General Joe Ferguson] credit for serving up a pile of options. And give the mayor and aldermen credit, this time, for not rejecting them out of hand. Last year, departing Mayor Richard Daley conjured up a package of cheap fixes that he knew would leave a mess for the next mayor, and the City Council let him get away with it. Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke, 14th, dismissed Ferguson’s suggestions then as “nothing new.” Daley’s better ideas included raiding the rainy-day fund and declaring a TIF surplus. A complete punt.

But this time it looks like aldermen are listening. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed spending discipline and an end to the one-time gimmicks. Emanuel said Wednesday he’s against tolls on Lake Shore Drive, but he backed some of Ferguson’s cost-saving ideas. He also revived his campaign idea to lower the city’s sales tax rate and broaden the base on which the tax is collected. Ferguson included it in his idea menu.

So … tolls on Lake Shore Drive? Nobody seems to like that one. That’s fine. But Ferguson has offered plenty of other ideas. Emanuel is cooking up plenty of his own. Anybody else? Speak up.

Just imagine what that editorial would read like if somebody close to Gov. Pat Quinn had proposed these ideas. Oh, the humanity.

It would be nice if we could get reasonable editorials like this on everything, but I’m not holding my breath.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Dirt Digger - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 7:55 am:

    *I* like tolls on LSD :(

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 8:20 am:

    I still don’t get why the inspector general is putting all this stuff out there.

  3. - reformer - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 8:46 am:

    Look for Rahm to jack up water rates.

    He doesn’t need legislative approval, this would sock suburbanites since City residents lack water meters, and it’s below the radar, unlike other proposed taxes on suburbanites.

  4. - Lycurgus - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 8:47 am:

    Ditto, Wordslinger. Since when did the Inspector General become the king of the forest?

  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 8:48 am:

    Why is the Inspector General proposing various tax increases or new taxes? Isn’t his job rooting out illegal or unethical behavior of employees?

  6. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 9:24 am:

    I think the idea of expanding the services covered and lowering the overlal rate has a lot of good merits and fundamental fairness.

    Like making people pay the same income tax if they work for a living or invest money.

    BUT keep in mind if you exand those who are required to collect a sales tax, you will need to expand the governemnt regulators who collect and monitor thse taxes, and the ones who make sure the money is being handed over and paid.

    I recall a recent story about gas stations collecting the tax from us butnot handing it over which prompted the Department of Revenue to go after them to collect.

    here is another idea for raising money, maybe we hsould expand the revenue departments enforcement/audit sections so they can go after the people who are not paying or turning over money. No need for new taxes or revenues, just some enforcement of whats on the books. It seems fundamentally flawed that we generate new fees and taxes, but we cut the government sections charged with making sure those fees and taxes are paid.

    You can raise taxes and implement fees all you want, but if we dont employee people to collect them and make sure they are paid whats the point

  7. - Exhausted - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 9:36 am:

    St. Louis has been taxing commuters 1% of the their income earned in the city for at least 40 years. I quess they still do? I used to pay it when I lived onthe IL metro side but worked in the city. Helped to pay for their wonderful(hah)roads. Rich has the pulse but watch out for this one. Easy to vote on a tax increase when they don’t vote for you…

  8. - really? - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 10:10 am:

    re: I.G. proposing budgetary additions/subtractions. Joe and David before him did it under the part of the I.G. ordinance that allows it to ‘root out inefficiencies’.

    Seems like a big stretch to me. I doubt when this ordinance was passed they had this in mind.

  9. - Retired Hack - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 10:14 am:

    @ wordslinger -I still don’t get why the inspector general is putting all this stuff out there-

    The IG’s office says that Section 2-56-030 of the ordinance creating the IG’s office, gives them the authority to offer these recommendations.

    Also, if you watch the 9/27 Chicago Tonight interview with the IG, it might give you more of an idea of where the IG is coming from.

  10. - soccermom - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 10:40 am:

    Before they raise water rates, they should make sure that everybody is metered properly. Water bills are insane — some people pay too much, while other people (and well-connected organizations) don’t pay anything.

  11. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 10:58 am:

    I don’t mind that the IG is coming up with ideas and putting some cost estimates with them. If we waited for the City Council to do this type of alternative policy analysis, we’d never see anything of substance emerge. Sometimes elected officials lack the guts to propose controversial ideas, and by “sometimes,” I really mean “almost always.”

    The IG has nothing to lose politically and at least it gets a debate going around specific proposals. That’s a positive in my book.

  12. - whetstone - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 11:21 am:

    I still don’t get why the inspector general is putting all this stuff out there.

    I’m ok with it. His status as an ostensible third party allows him some cover to lay out a massive menu of budgetary options without getting blasted for supporting or rejecting them.

    And it also means he can float weird, unpopular, and even bad ideas without the political risk faced by elected officials. I like the idea that the public is being given a broad look at what *could* fix the budget deficit. If no one wants to do *any* of it, that’s fine, but it’s refreshing to see ideas floated beyond trimming at the sides, which is what we’re getting at almost every governmental level, not just Chicago.

  13. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    Its a politicians favorite tax. Benefits the local packetbook while taxing those who do not vote for them.

    Hotel tax, car rental tax…….

  14. - QC - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 11:56 am:

    That service tax idea is partly responsible for Laurel Prussing’s defeat in 1994. For those old enough to remember, her service tax initiative would have put a new tax on something like 97 new services. The House Republicans had a field day with that one.

  15. - Cook County Commoner - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 12:16 pm:

    On behalf off all communities abutting Chicago, we encourage the Mayor to tax every profession and service in Chicago. We will gladly make room for them on our side of the border.

  16. - mokenavince - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 2:46 pm:

    Anything a Chicago Alderman proposes will either
    be used to line their pockets or it’s stupid. Their mantra will always be where’s mine. Joe
    Fergunson has more brains than the whole lot.

  17. - walkinfool - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 3:07 pm:

    Rahm, like Toni, asked for everyone to suggest possible ways to help balance the buget. I am glad Ferguson threw his two cents in, even though many suggestions won’t happen.

  18. - Just Me - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 4:50 pm:

    Watch for Ferguson to announce he is running for office. Trust me.

  19. - 2912 worker - Thursday, Sep 29, 11 @ 4:53 pm:

    Frankly, I’d rather have the Inspector General spending his time rooting out fraud and catching bad city workers. Or, are we to conclude that there are not many investigations going on, given that they had the time to prepare this 160+ page report?

    Many of the “suggestions” are based on erroneous information. For example, the I.G. says that AFSCME represented workers “only” work 35 hours a week and that they should work 40 hours.

    Wrong. Most, if not all, AFSCME represented employees work from 8:30am-4:30pm every day (8 hours). Yes, officially it states they only work 7 hours. How could this be?

    Well, they are given one hour for lunch, and at least according to the city, they are not paid for that hour. They are on salary - so it really makes no difference. (I have no idea why they account for it this way, but thats what it is)

    They should have looked further into this before making that recommendation - fools!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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