Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x2 - Cullerton addresses issue - Now 13 *** Nine Chicago House members say they’ll vote against Lightfoot’s real estate transfer tax bill
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*** UPDATED x2 - Cullerton addresses issue - Now 13 *** Nine Chicago House members say they’ll vote against Lightfoot’s real estate transfer tax bill

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019

* Press release…

With Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot already facing formidable odds in her quest to convince the Illinois Legislature to approve an increase in the city’s Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT), nine state lawmakers said Tuesday they’re not prepared to vote for the measure unless it includes funds dedicated to alleviating homelessness.

In a letter submitted to Lightfoot, members of the Illinois House of Representatives wrote, “It is our intention to support your proposed Real Estate Transfer Tax increase only if a significant amount is statutorily dedicated to homelessness, and we believe that at least 60% should go toward that purpose.”

The letter is signed by State Reps. Kambium Buckner (D-26th); Will Guzzardi (D-39th); Aaron Ortiz (D-1st); Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th); Thaddeus Jones (D-29th); Theresa Mah (D-2nd); Delia Ramirez (D-14th); Anne Stava-Murray (D-81st); and Celina Villanueva (D-21st).

Their announcement threatens to place another hurdle in Lightfoot’s path, unless the Mayor is willing to revisit a proposal to allocate some of the tax funds to reducing homelessness – a concept that she repeatedly promised to support during her campaign for office.

While soliciting support on the campaign trail, Lightfoot touted a proposal to increase the RETT on higher-priced property sales to pay for programs that reduce homelessness and expand affordable housing. But in the wake of her election, she gutted those provisions from her plan and now is seeking legislative authorization to funnel all revenues from the tax increase into the city’s coffers to defray Chicago’s budget deficit.

On Tuesday, several of the lawmakers who signed the letter joined members of the Bring Chicago Home coalition – which has championed a measure akin to the one Lightfoot promoted in her campaign – at a news conference to say that they share the Mayor’s commitment to resolving the budget deficit, but also believe the 86,000 Chicago residents currently afflicted by with homelessness shouldn’t be a casualty to that effort.

“Chicagoans experiencing homelessness are already struggling on the margins, so we shouldn’t exacerbate their woes by leaving them stranded from the legislative support they were promised,” Rep. Ramirez said. “The proposed RETT increase is one mechanism in Mayor Lightfoot’s arsenal to rectify the budget deficit, and I would certainly favor using it for that purpose, in part. But we should do that in concert with, rather than at the expense of, Chicago’s homeless population. In fact, funding aid for the homeless is the one justification for the proposed RETT increase that has already garnered public support.”

In a 2018 public opinion poll, two-thirds of Chicago’s likely voters said they supported the proposal to increase the RETT on properties sold for more than $1 million if the money was legally dedicated to programs that relief homelessness.

This doesn’t necessarily kill the mayor’s RETT plan, but it sure isn’t a good sign. Their letter to Lightfoot is here. Lightfoot has justified her change of position by pointing to the city’s large budget deficit.

*** UPDATE ***

Rich, just an update: The number of signatures on the letter — the latest editions of it is attached — has expanded to 13. The names:

T. Jones

*** UPDATE 2 *** Senate President John Cullerton was asked about the issue today

There’s a difference of opinion in our caucus on the real estate transfer tax, we’ll see. It’s just something we need to address. […]

There’s concerns that [progressives in his caucus] raised about how the money would be spent. So we talked about the fact that our state legislation would not spend the money. We would only authorize the city to spend the money. So that’s maybe something that the progressive members of the House were not aware of.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 9:27 am:

    Ah… what a great concept… address high housing costs by further taxing housing with a RETT increase… that should work. /s

  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 9:38 am:

    The grossly inept Lightfoot Crew spent more time allowing the browbeating of the Governor instead of counting noses to get 71, or at least 60.

    It’s actually an embarrassment that Lightfoot’s Crew, and Lightfoot herself, face, here, “members in the stairs”, and they *still* think they can get help from these magically appearing allies?

    So they’re down 9 Dems already.

    Here’s the rub, for me;

    === Lightfoot has justified her change of position by pointing to the city’s large budget deficit.===

    So, here’s how Lightfoot and her Crew went about their business?

    Try to bully the governor on the graduated income tax, wait, what seems to be “forever” on the Thompson Pivot, then hold disastrous town halls that still finds the mayor exactly where she was before they began, with no allies now, and that pesky property tax like looming anyway.

    They all are a head scratcher.

  3. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    This reminds me of the teachers strike. All the purity ring progressives are making demands of Mayor Lightfoot that they never made of Mayor Emanuel in an effort to discredit her as a progressive. I have some sympathy especially here where she is just trying to balance the budget.

  4. - City Zen - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:08 am:

    From the letter:

    “New York City is spending $1.04 billion on efforts to end homelessness.”

    Part of their “efforts” is exporting homeless people to other states:

  5. - CommonSenseCary - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:08 am:

    60% going to combat homelessness, on top of what is already allocated is steep. I’m not even sure what is meant by “combat homelessness” to these legislators; more housing? Non-profit allocation? It doesn’t make sense, given the financial bind Chicago is in (I support ending homelessness as much as the next person). When did everyone become so unreasonable? Similar to the teachers strike, this seems political in attempts to discredit Lori as a progressive and make her an enemy of the working class.

  6. - Montrose - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    “All the purity ring progressives are making demands of Mayor Lightfoot that they never made of Mayor Emanuel in an effort to discredit her as a progressive.”

    Try again.

  7. - Just Me - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:13 am:

    Instead of threatening tax increases if she doesn’t get her ways, the Mayor should threaten budget cuts. Liberal legislators don’t care about tax increases but they respond really well to budget cuts.

  8. - Anon - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    It’s almost like this governing thing is hard.

  9. - ChicagoBars - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:16 am:

    “So they’re down 9 Dems already.”

    With respect OW, aren’t they down 10? Or is Rep Arroyo in Springfield today?

  10. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:17 am:

    === aren’t they down 10?===

    Walked right into that one.


  11. - Amalia - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:21 am:

    somebody please cost out the amount of money already being spent on this issue cause it’s fairly decent. and tell me how you are going to pay for police and fire if you don’t get the city more money. dreamers.

  12. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:34 am:

    Montrose, Mayor Lightfoot’s budget already increases spending on homelessness and affordable housing by $10 million. If the RETT raises $50 million, we’re really talking about difference of $20 million in the context of a huge budget deficit. I don’t understand why people don’t trust Lightfoot to make it up in the next few years.

  13. - Dybalaton - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:43 am:

    There is nothing progressive about further straining the finances of a City with an $838million budget deficit and upcoming pension ramp payments that will add over a billion to the budget.

  14. - A guy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    Anne Stava-Murray (D-81st) isn’t a Chicago House Member unless something has happened since regular session.

  15. - Montrose - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 10:55 am:

    “I don’t understand why people don’t trust Lightfoot to make it up in the next few years.”

    Because that is the refrain people have heard on this issue and other issues for years “I care about it, but just not now.” There’s an easy way to have a win-win on this one through a compromise. I don’t understand why the Mayor is so fixated on having enemies instead of allies.

  16. - Dybalaton - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 11:16 am:

    These people are not reasonable. The City has a massive deficit and they want more spending. It’s hard to be allied with people who have no concept of the severity of Chicago’s financial mess.

  17. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 11:18 am:

    - Dybalaton -

    Explain your solution(s). So it’s clear.


  18. - Looking down the Road - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 11:31 am:

    Just raise property taxes. About 400-450 million should cover the inevitable hole in the budget when the “increased efficiencies” and the like fall through. Maybe a combination of a sales tax increase plus a property tax increase. What would an additional 1% sales tax bring in? If its not done new, its just putting off the inevitable. Might as well get ahead of the curve.

  19. - @misterjayem - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    I’m sure Lightfoot’s hard-headed and bellicose style of governing is just about to pay off…

    Just you wait…

    Right around the corner…

    Any minute now…

    – MrJM

  20. - sewer thoughts - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    @Three Dimensional Checkers, I don’t believe the “increase” part of your statement is correct - the total proposed spend on homelessness will be $10 million, $5m to two existing programs. This is less than last year’s $15.5ish million spent. That is my understanding of the proposed budget, I believe your “increased” comes from a news article/PR piece headline that may not be accurate.

  21. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 12:43 pm:

    With the number “13”… that’s 61 Green? For sure Green?


  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 12:44 pm:

    === With the number “13”… that’s 61 Green? For sure Green?


    As - ChicagoBars - needed to remind me… Arroyo.

    That’s 14… 60 left.

    Whew. Tight window.

  23. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 4:08 pm:

    @sewer thoughts, well, the budget book is out so you can look it up too. I am not sure if the RETT tax in part of it. It looks like there is a reduction for homeless services in DFSS, then a new Houseshare Surcharge - Homeless Services Fund that has the same amount of money in it as was reduced from DFSS.

  24. - Enviro - Tuesday, Oct 29, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    The Mayor should keep her campaign promise to use an increase of the RETT on higher-priced property sales to pay for programs that reduce homelessness and expand affordable housing. At least 60% of the RETT should be used for reducing homelessness and expanding affordable housing. This is very much needed by thousands of people in Chicago.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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