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Sun-Times has a tax hike freak-out

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

* The adults need to intervene at the Sun-Times. Check out this lede

Tapped-out Chicago property owners would face yet another tax hit for teacher pensions — but their aldermen would escape another difficult vote — under a historic new statewide school funding deal now headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.

Tapped-out? Right. Chicagoans should ask their suburban and Downstate friends about their property tax bills.

* The screaming front page…

* Thankfully, the editorial board put things into perspective

But it is not unexpected news. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had hinted all along that another tax hike for the city’s public schools was likely, once he finished squeezing Springfield for more school money. And, regrettably, the hike is largely necessary. It is the price Chicago must pay for decades of past financial mismanagement. It is the price the city must pay for its future.

As unwelcome as higher taxes are, worse yet for Chicago and its public schools has been the damage done by constant borrowing and allowing unpaid pension obligations to pile up. A city that borrows to pay basic bills — spending money on interest payments instead of hiring cops or teachers — is a city living on borrowed time.

Mayor Daley and, for his first term Rahm Emanuel, allowed Chicagoans to live in a fantasy world where they didn’t have to pay for the services they received. And they were enabled by the city’s media and, particularly, its editorial boards which endorsed those guys at every turn.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:31 am:

    If CPS also maxes out its levy for pensions, it’ll be closer to $150 million increase next year. That’s a lot, but it’s also relatively tiny given that the total tax bill for Chicago taxpayers is well over $5 billion. Nobody wants an increase, but this is long overdue and completely necessary.

  2. - Almost the weekend - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:37 am:

    =Mayor Daley and, for his first term Rahm Emanuel, allowed Chicagoans to live in a fantasy world where they didn’t have to pay for the services they received. And they were enabled by the city’s media and, particularly, its editorial boards which endorsed those guys at every turn.=

    You can describe this as every governor from Walker to the present in regards to the fiscal state of Illinois

  3. - Memo From Turner - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:38 am:

    ==Mayor Daley and, for his first term Rahm Emanuel, allowed Chicagoans to live in a fantasy world where they didn’t have to pay for the services they received. And they were enabled by the city’s media and, particularly, its editorial boards which endorsed those guys at every turn.==
    That is absolutely the best summation ever. I would only add that labor did its part enabling with contracts that were not sustainable in exchange for endorsements and campaign workers.

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:38 am:

    Not only the media, but the Chicago metro biz community — including big hitter contributors like Citizen Rauner — enabled Daley and Emanuel’s reckless fiscal practices.

    With Daley especially, the media and biz community created a cult of personality of the Indispensable Man, an alleged management wizard.

    Meanwhile, he was selling off assets to pay ongoing expenses. It’s like selling your furniture to buy groceries. Can’t sustain it.

  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:39 am:

    I suggest Chicago homeowners calculate their effective tax rate.

    Divide one’s property tax bill by the value of one’s home.

    That’s one’s effective tax rate.

    In the suburbs, a 4% effective tax rate is not uncommon, up from about 2% a bit over a decade ago.

  6. - walker - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    This will ramp up the effectiveness of a property tax “corruption” message targeted at MJM and Berrios.

  7. - cdog - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    There is an omission in this description of the causes of damage in Chicago–unaffordable labor agreements.

    Chicago’s financial situations are classic examples of what happens when the tail wags the dog.

    People are waking up; this is good, even though a little painful.

    Labor needs a leash.

  8. - pundemonium - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    Cookie Monster shares his home with the Sun-Times.

  9. - let's be real - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    The nonsense that Chicagoans aren’t tapped out because their property tax bills are lower than their suburban counterparts needs to stop. We all know Daley + Rahm were/are smart enough not to constantly run up property taxes, so they hike fees and other taxes. Chicagoans shoulder the highest tax and fee burden of any city in Illinois by far.

  10. - Ahoy! - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    –Mayor Daley and, for his first term Rahm Emanuel, allowed Chicagoans to live in a fantasy world where they didn’t have to pay for the services they received. –

    That actually sounds like the rest of Illinois too. We also didn’t need to pay for pensions, someone else (my generation) will pay for that.

  11. - Fax Machine - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    Is there a housing boom in Hammond Indiana? I can imagine moving over the IL/IN border has to look very attractive to a lot of Cook County residents.

  12. - Molly Maguire - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:53 am:

    Rich, you are spot on. I live in one of those high tax burbs and happily pay 3x as much as Chicago homeowners for the good schools, parks, services, etc. High taxes mean high property values.

  13. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:54 am:

    Are we all a bunch of babies?
    We pay more for everything why would the cost of governments not go up too?

    This not just about Chicago, it’s about every government. Why did we believe that there was magical waste and fraud enough to pay normal cost of living increases? Who believes we can cut our budget enough to not increase costs?

    It’s like telling people that because you have a savings account, you can cover every increase with it, even though it only holds a $1.50.

    We’ve been told that government can meet every emergency, provide social needs, educate every child - and not cost more. Hooey. For 30 years our governments borrowed in order to spare us the real costs.

    Our governments have been run like Ponzi schemes and no elected official would reveal the truth.

  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    CDog, they’re called “agreements” for a reason. No one is forced to sign them.

    You think CTU and the police and fire unions have been lovey-dovey in their relationships with Daley and Emamuel? That’s bizarre revisionism.

    I understand you’re a proponent of the Deadbeat School of Government in which you sign and then seek to renege on contracts, but that’s not truly “conservative” by any honest definition, either in the public or private sectors.

  15. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    Oh - blaming unions is just another lie.
    Get real. Unions have been in decline since 1955.
    Do you blame dinosaurs for the turds you find on your lawn?

  16. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:00 am:

    Oh - blaming unions is just another lie.
    Get real. Unions have been in decline since 1955.
    Do you blame dinosaurs for the poo you find on your lawn? Unions could be exinct and thete would be little impact on this.

  17. - Sheesh - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:06 am:

    The big difference, which you conveniently overlook, is the return of services for the tax dollars. If the schools produced educated graduates instead of illiterates, if the roads were paved and potholes filled, if the police department was properly staffed and permitted to arrest criminals who were prosecuted and jailed, there would be no complaints. The jail has revolving doors. Sales taxes are higher in the Loop. Why is Chicago building an arena for De Paul? Other areas have higher taxes, but services are better.

  18. - Fax Machine - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:09 am:

    IPI is right about TIFs - they just need to stop using cartoons to make their point.

  19. - TR - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:09 am:

    The Sun-Times is like the Tribune in bizzaro world.

    The Trib has a knee-jerk, hyperbolic editorial board but offers sober, unbiased coverage in it’s news section. The Sun-Times does the exact opposite.

  20. - Uncle Louie - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:10 am:

    Typically when you pay more you get something. With the never ending pension funding shortfall, you pay more and get the satisfaction of knowing that a government employee will have a well funded retirement while you work forever.

    Sounds fair to me. I’ll stick around until they start taxing retirement income, which they will have to get around to eventually. There are plenty of states that got their fiscal act together years ago, and some of them have nice climates.

  21. - City Zen - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:10 am:

    Is Jorge Ramirez officially on the C-ST editorial board now or just in spirit?

  22. - Cassandra - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:14 am:

    Or the residents can move. I don’t say this in a snide way. It really is a choice. Increasingly, in a large complex urban area taxes are higher. Nevertheless, many folks are moving into large urban areas for better opportunities for themselves and their kids. My rural Indiana relatives pay much lower property taxes but the schools and other services are less rich. Not to say they are nonexistent and there are definite advantages to living in the country. It’s a choice.

  23. - Juice - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:14 am:

    let’s be real, the analysis you shared doesn’t include any property taxes for schools for any communities listed, which is a huge part of the burden basically everywhere.

    It also include a lot of taxes that Chicago residents don’t actually pay, like the hotel tax, or PPRT, and others that some may pay but by and large are paid for by businesses (lease transaction tax),

  24. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    Let’s be real - Please compare apples to apples, property tax burden in Chicago to property tax burden in the suburbs.

  25. - James the Intolerant - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    RMD, 7 for 22 in batting for paying the City’s portion of the pension pick-up, he made it all possible. And many of those years were good years, so we could have concrete planters on streets.

  26. - W Flag - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    Another question that I would ask of those living outside of Chicago is how many of you pay “street taxes” to park your cars on arterial streets? Daley did not simply remove the existing parking meters when he sold the parking ticket collections to a private firm. The number of pay to park locations expanded greatly, so ever time you run an errand to a business without a parking lot, you must pay for the privilege of shopping in Chicago.
    If you visit Lincoln Park, off of Recreation Drive, the parking lot has pay boxes.

  27. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:23 am:


    “better opportunities for themselves and their kids”

    I know you must be kidding about opportunities for their kids right ? 2016 CPS test score show that only 1 out of 4 kids reads at grade level.

  28. - Steve - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:30 am:

    Property taxes can go higher in Chicago. Who’s going to stop them ? The libertarians on Chicago’s City Council ? Can Chicago have Kenilworth style property taxes for CPS kind of schools? Stay tuned, many Chicago politicians want to give it a try. After all, public pensions have to be paid.

  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    ==After all, public pensions have to be paid==

    For a change! You can only rip people off for so long before the jig is up.

  30. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:34 am:

    ==I know you must be kidding about opportunities for their kids right ? 2016 CPS test score show that only 1 out of 4 kids reads at grade level.==

    How would you fix that without costing more - or do we all move away and leave this situation as is? Just give up? Without using magic beans, how would you fix that?

  31. - Century Club - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    Can you believe they want to raise taxes to pay for EDUCATION? When will these commie, tree-hugging Democrats ever learn? Taxes are for TIF’s, showing Wait Wait Don’t Tell me at Pritzker Pavilion and paying the parking meter company so we can shut down Halsted Street for Market Days. /s

  32. - Responsa - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:37 am:

    I’ve long been a cheerleader for the survival of at least two major Chicago newspapers. I think a city and metro area this size and diverse and important to the region needs two reasonably journalistically competent papers with somewhat different editorial POVs. But both papers have become unreadable. This is partly because the “news” that’s printed is mostly recycled and unverified AP and Reuters coverage produced from afar. And the supposedly “hard news” stories that are crafted locally are too often basically not distinguishable from what was once known as “opinion” or “commentary”. Sad.

  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    ==1 in 4 kids reads at grade level==

    Besides readiness, kids will learn to read when presented with the instruction. Those who struggle or can’t need special help ala reading specialists. Won’t even go near parental help and follow up at home……………. So, given that so many want to pay less to the schools, not more, what the heck do people expect? Kids aren’t widgets on an assembly line (unless you think of your own that way…..)

  34. - Christopher - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:41 am:

    ==public pensions have to be paid==
    Yes, they do. The City negotiated a contract with workers and received the services as specified. The Courts are in agreement.

  35. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    Want lower taxes?
    Do it the JB way…
    Remove your toilts and request a property tax review.

  36. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    “With Daley especially, the media and biz community created a cult of personality of the Indispensable Man, an alleged management wizard.”

    Or as we call it around these parts, Gravitas™.

    – MrJM

  37. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:56 am:

    Not that this is the exact same thing but this reminds of when gas prices spiked a decade or so ago. Or, to make it more Illinois-centric, when Ameren’s prices jumped markedly in early 2007 after the artificial price caps went away. When you get used to paying a certain amount for a product/service/tax for a long time and then a price jump occurs what is your first thought? Economists say such a thing is no big deal but that is not how a homeowner or consumer or business owner thinks. Their thoughts are a little more angry/bitter.

  38. - SAP - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 11:02 am:

    The 1995 CPS “reform” legislation let Chicago off the hook on CPS pension contributions. The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund went from being pretty well-funded to almost as poorly funded as the Downstate Teachers Fund in 2 short decades.

  39. - PhD - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    Interest on debt from previous decisions to keep tax revenue too low and spending too high is the real problem. The only solution is some combination of raising revenue and cutting spending. Adults should not delay painful decisions when the delay will create even more pain later.

  40. - ste_with_a_v_en - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    “Unions have been in decline since 1955″
    Private sector yes, but public sector union membership has risen. Government unionization has risen from 23% in 1973 to 36% today, while private-sector unionization has declined from 24% in 1973 to 7% today.

  41. - Harry - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    Interesting for what is now a union-run paper to be so anti-tax. Almost makes you think they are trying to take Rahm down a peg as they prepare the battle-space for 2019.

  42. - Blue dog dem - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    Simple solution. 1/4% city earmings tax. Pension crisis citywide (including CPS) fixed. Anout $1 billion by my calcs

  43. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    ===Simple solution===

    Simple solutions are usually neither. Where are you gonna come up with the votes to pass that one?

  44. - Blue dog dem - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    Rich. Good question. Maybe the same place as were they’ll get them progressive income tax votes?

  45. - Blue dog dem - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    Last year, St. LOO passed a voter referendum to keep theirs. Wouldnt it be worth a try. Fire and police. Teachers. Thats bunches of support.

  46. - Molly Maguire - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    W Flag — in our burb, we pay street taxes too. Parking meters, annual parking stickers, parking permits to park on the street for more than a few days. That’s OK, I support it.

  47. - W Flag - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    “Street taxes” applied to every retail street or a handful of selected streets? It is a real pain when you have to pay $1.75 or $2.50 for stopping at a coffee shop or visiting to barber for a hair cut.

    The parking regulations are now enforced a private company which essential purchased the parking spaces from the city for decades and the number of spaces with pay parking expanded massively. If you lived here, I doubt that you would be okay with it.

  48. - PhD - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    == 1/4% city earmings tax. Pension crisis citywide (including CPS) fixed.==

    It is much easier to raise school tax levy or alternatively increase state income tax and increase state education funding.

  49. - Chuckee Baby - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    Confused now….I thought that the Chicago Federation of Labor, and Edwin Eisendrath bought the Sun-Times last month. Do they run the Editorial Page yet or not?

  50. - Blue dog dem - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    PhD. Just trying to help Chicagos problem.

  51. - JustAGuy - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 5:49 pm:

    Christopher - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 10:41 am:
    ==public pensions have to be paid==
    Yes, they do. The City negotiated a contract with workers and received the services as specified. The Courts are in agreement.

    The courts at one point also thought Plessy v. Ferguson was OK too, and were in agreement on that. If you are bleeding out, do you put a tourniquet on to save the person - or wait for the doctor to arrive 30 minutes because you need approval from a physician to administer treatment?

  52. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 30, 17 @ 5:53 pm:

    ===The courts at one point also thought…===

    Yeah, the ILSC went 7-0 last time on this whole pension thingy and the pesky constitution.


  53. - PhD - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 12:32 am:

    ==PhD. Just trying to help Chicagos problem.==

    While Chicago may have a difficulties, the state has much bigger problems. Chicago’s pensions are better funded and Chicago has access to much greater property wealth. State income tax revenue has to increase by another $3 billion and state spending has to be reduced by another $2 billion. Increase the tax base by taxing retirement income, increase state worker deductibles for health care, and impose hiring freeze for state employees.

  54. - blue dog dem - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 5:00 am:

    PhD. I like your thinking. Exvrpt the income tax part. Since most of the wealth of the state comes out of Chicago, doesn’t a city earnings tax accomplish the same thing? Taxing retirement income needs to be a progressive manner.
    But heres the catch 22,200. That’s the net loss in the states population last year. For sure, increasing taxes on residents Will test that number again. Losing population is a very bad thing.

  55. - PhD - Thursday, Aug 31, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    ==Losing population is a very bad thing.==

    It depends on who is leaving the state. Does the state really want to keep retirees that eventually require Medicaid support for nursing home care?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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