By the time the cash register stops spitting out receipts later this year, Chicago area residents will have been hit with more than $1 billion in higher city, county and state taxes. That includes a new sales tax in Cook and the collar counties and a new real estate transfer tax in Chicago. Both went into effect Tuesday morning to keep the trains and buses running.
The sales tax in Cook County is only a quarter of a cent higher Tuesday, but over the course of a year it'll add up to a few hundred dollars for the average person. That money is being used to keep the trains and buses running on CTA, Metra, and PACE without the public transits raising fares, cutting service or laying people off.
"As long as they're putting the money toward good use and the service improves, then yeah, I think it's a good idea, " said Thomas Peppers, taxpayer.
"There's a lot of different ways they can come up with the money besides coming out of the taxpayer's pocket," said Mary Thomas, taxpayer
But at least Thomas can ride free when she reaches the age of 65. Bill Brauer does.
"For me it was not essential. I'm doing it because it's there," said Bill Brauer Senior Rider
The transit bail-out also includes a higher transfer tax on people who sell their homes in Chicago. That'll cost Kenwood resident Edward Hamburg a few thousand dollars.
"I'm not happy about it, but on the other hand I am a strong supporter of the C.T.A. And if this is part of the solution to the problem, then I'm willing to accept that," said Edward Hamburg, Chicago homeowner.
In addition to $380 million tax for mass transit, Chicago residents are already paying $276 million more in Mayor Daley's 2008 budget and the Cook County sales tax will be going up another $420 million a year in July.
Therefore the Governor Blagojevich, who demanded free rides for seniors before signing the transit bail-out, is pledging not to raise taxes in Springfield this year to pay for the multi-billion dollar infrastructure repair plan that lawmakers, including the mayor of Chicago, are demanding.
"So there's a lot of creative ways of thinking. You don't have to live in the past when it comes up to financial tools for the state or federal government," said Mayor Richard Daley
"We have enough tax money and we need to be smarter about operating government and use those assets we have. And, as Mayor Daley has suggested, in a more creative way," said Governor Rod Blagojevich
The governor wants to pay for a multi-billion dollar infrastructure repair plan by leasing the state lottery. An increase in gambling may also be necessary. But Blagojevich said he'll veto any higher taxes the general assembly imposes on working families.
This is also tax day in neighboring Indiana, where the sales tax is a penny higher. The tolls are up to 72-percent higher.