By Adam Schalke
Late last month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a majority of the City Council of Chicago approved a massive tax increase as part of the city’s overall budget for the coming fiscal year.
“We have to do the things necessary to build a future that is correct and honest with people and forthright with what it’s going to take to have a great city,” Mayor Emanuel said in a closing statement regarding the city’s budget.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the city of Chicago can expect to draw in $543 million dollars in revenue from the property tax hike alone, with other revenue sums coming in from various other sources, such as garbage collection fees and taxi fees.
In order to pass the tax increase, Mayor Emanuel reportedly talked to several key aldermen leading up to the vote, warning them of severe cuts to public services and large-scale layoffs of city police and firefighters. The budget ultimately passed overwhelmingly, with the Chicago Tribune reporting that 36 of the city’s 50 aldermen voted in favor of the increase.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, news of the recent tax hike stated that many households will see a 12 percent increase in their property tax bill, which did not go over well in an already heavily-taxed municipality, with many residents frustrated over the hike and anxious about potential further increases on the horizon.
“I think the tax increase was necessary given the city’s finances, but I think it’s still partly bad news as well as being necessary,” said Roosevelt University student Jesus “Chuy” Duenes. “I guess it’s for the greater good for the city, so I understand.”
David Faris, the chair of the political science department and professor at Roosevelt University, offered his take on the tax hike.
“In the United States, raising taxes is a political risk, especially in Illinois. In light of the city’s finances and the budget impasse in Springfield, Rahm Emanuel made a very difficult decision,” Faris explained. “From a social justice perspective, a property tax hike is a more progressive way to generate revenue, as the tax usually extends to higher earners instead of regressive taxes that target the poor.”
When asked about Mayor Emanuel’s reelection potential, Professor Faris stated that he still has a chance.
“Nobody can run to the right of Emanuel, at least not in Chicago. Emanuel has already showed that he can beat a progressive candidate like Chuy Garcia, so his reelection may still be possible,” Faris said.