CHICAGO (Sept 25, 2019)– As City Hall prepares to begin the process to create the FY 2020 City budget, the City Council Progressive Reform Caucus announced its largest membership to date, with 18 members from communities across the city. The Progressive Caucus is hopeful the council and administration can work together to focus on fair and modern revenue measures to address the city’s budget gap, as well as investments that promote social and economic justice for all Chicagoans.
“Chicagoans elected the most progressive council in our city’s history, and we were elected on platforms that promote fairness, equity and responsible law making,” said Progressive Caucus Chair Ald. Sue Sadlowski-Garza (10). “We will approach the budget with these values in mind.”
The progressive caucus prioritized investment in affordable housing and homelessness, increased support for social workers in our schools and expanding access to mental health services. The caucus urged the Mayor and City Council to raise the minimum wage to $15 to spur economic activity and stabilize our communities. The caucus noted these are responsible investments and initiatives that payoff in the long run.
Additionally, the Progressive Caucus supports comprehensive reform of the tax increment financing (TIF) program, which directs hundreds of millions of dollars annually away from public schools, parks, and other departments into development projects. The Progressive Caucus called for both declaring a TIF surplus and reforming the eligibility for TIF.
“TIFs have not been an efficient way to improve our schools or infrastructure, and too often they have been used to enrich large developers at the expense of working class and poor residents. This can’t continue,” said Ald. Matt Martin (47). “We are encouraged to see that the administration is closely scrutinizing our TIF program and look forward to working with the Mayor on comprehensive TIF reform to ensure these funds are invested where they are most needed.”
The Progressive Caucus also pointed to sales tax modernization as their Springfield priority and will be exploring service taxes as a potential source of revenue. By taxing services like accounting, tax prep, bookkeeping services, portfolio management and others we could generate hundreds of millions annually.
“Modernizing our sales tax is long overdue and is a fair, stable and responsible way to generate revenue,” said Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22) “Taxing consumption of these services asks those with the most resources to chip in. When Springfield acts on this, municipalities across the state can reduce their reliance on regressive property taxes. Even with only modest growth in use and cost of these services, the economic benefit to Chicago and cities across the state could be substantial.”
Additionally, the Progressive Caucus is encouraging the mayor and council to proactively explore payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). PILOTs are voluntary payments made by tax-exempt organizations such as universities and hospitals. These institutions don’t have to pay property taxes, so PILOT agreements are negotiated between the city and each institution. Other cities have generated hundreds of millions of dollars annually from these agreements.
“Major universities and hospitals put a real burden on our infrastructure and benefit from city public safety services every day yet they don’t pay a dime in property taxes,” said Ald. Maria Hadden (49). “These institutions have massive endowments and resources that enable them to fully pay their fair share. We encourage the mayor and these institutions to negotiate a more fair and just relationship with the city.”
The caucus also indicated support for the corporate head tax and studies of congestion and rideshare taxes. The full list of priorities can be found here.
The Progressive Reform Caucus includes Ald. Daniel LaSpata (1); Ald. Sophia King (4); Ald. Leslie Hairston (5); Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6); Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10); Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16); Ald. David Moore (17); Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20); Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22); Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25); Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29); Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33); Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35); Ald. Felix Cardona, Jr. (31); Ald. Scott Waguespack (32); Ald. Andre Vasquez (40); Ald. Matt Martin (47); Ald. Maria Hadden (49).