For Immediate Release

Grassroots Collaborative Responds to Mayor Emanuel’s Budget Address

Aiming Property Tax Increase Downtown is a Good Start, But More Fundamental Shift Needed to Fix Chicago Budget

CHICAGO - This morning Mayor Emanuel delivered his first budget address since being forced into a runoff election.  Emanuel laid out various taxes, fees and fines to address the city’s budget deficit, with a focus on a property tax increase.  The Mayor estimated 1 out of 4 dollars of his proposed property tax increase would come from the central business district. This is the right direction. For Chicago to be financial sound we need to put a greater burden on downtown and commercial interests, a group that has not had to pay their fair share in previous Chicago budgets.

However, regressive revenue solutions such as the $9.50 garbage collection fee and more privatization such as outsourcing 311 service are exactly what we have seen in previous city budgets that have led to devastation in Chicago neighborhoods. Mayor Emanuel and his predecessors have built Chicago’s budget on disinvesting in black and brown neighborhoods and targeting working families with fines and fees. Meanwhile Chicago has refused to go after the big banks and Wall Street that have taken over $803 million in Chicago taxpayer money through city toxic swaps as of spring 2015.

Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative responding to the Mayor’s budget address stated, “The last few Chicago budgets have been a one-two punch aimed at our communities. One hand closes schools, shutters mental health clinics, and dismantles affordable housing. The other hits with increased utilities, red light cameras, and taxes aimed at those least able to pay. This has proven to be a disaster for both Chicago’s neighborhoods and Chicago’s finances.”

“We need a truly progressive property tax, one that shifts the burden from longtime homeowners and renters to commercial property owners that have not been paying their fair share. To do this, we need an alternative minimum property tax to close the backdoor to huge tax breaks that clouted downtown corporations enjoy. Mayor Emanuel should drop regressive revenue like the proposed garbage collection fee and instead pursue new bold solutions like suing Bank of America to get our money back and work with other cities to collectively bargain a reduction in fees paid to the banks.”

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