October 15, 2018 — From the City Club of Chicago, Paul Vallas, a candidate for Mayor of Chicago, discusses the financial challenges facing the city, and what he sees as the path forward. Vallas’ approach would be a combination of spending cuts, and revenue increases over a five-year period that would restore financial stability to Chicago, raising over $1 Billion and having the funding do make its pension payments.
Vallas said he wants to cut city spending by $500 million a year by 2020. He also wants to legalize sports betting, add a casino, and have the state restore about $50 million annually that the state cut from the funds to Chicago.
Vallas points to his experience running school systems in Philadelphia and Louisiana, noting that he has never seen a budget he’s not able to cut by 5-10%.
Vallas says he would cap property taxes at 5%, and aggressively looking at commercial tax appeals. He said he may do what Boston does, and ask nonprofits — such as hospitals — to make a voluntary payment to help cover some of the costs of emergency services. He suggests that could raise $100 million or more.
“We need to stop punishing people” Vallas said He noted the city attacks taxpayers and those in the business community with red light cameras and other charges and does so in a way that makes paying fees difficult on citizens.
Vallas said the approach he wants to follow would generate $1.7 Billion annually, and that would address the pension problem. He pointed to his history of balancing budgets over his career.
We need to set clear and definable goals, and begin investing in areas that stimulate economic development.
He notes there are great advantages within the Federal tax system that the city is not taking advantage of — such as investing in Opportunity Zones.
“Imagine if we invested TIF funds as an equity investor!” He says such an approach over years could bring the City $10 Billion and do so without raising taxes, while improving areas of the city.