Mayoral candidates on the budget deficit

February 14, 2011 4:14:33 PM PST
One big question ahead of the mayoral election is how the candidates will deal with a $654 million deficit in Chicago.

Cutting waste and fraud and making government more efficient is a common theme among all six mayoral candidates.

Even though some candidates have detailed budget plans, experts many of the plans are unrealistic because they not include ways to raise revenue or cut services.

"My view is no new taxes," said candidate Carol Moseley Braun. "We need to do it based on efficiencies "

"What I propose to do is merge departments, cut, consolidate, leverage partnerships with other agencies that do it better than we do," said candidate Gery Chico.

"Cuts are definitely going to be needed, we're going to have to look at personnel - we're going to have to look at the top management layers," said candidate Miguel del Valle. "That is where I would start."

"I believe you have to ask some fundamental questions, should the city still be doing this and if... yes, is this the best way to deliver that service for the most effective cost of dollars," said candidate Rahm Emanuel.

Patricia Van-Pelt Watkins believes cutting corruption will save the city millions and William "Dock" Walls says cutting profit margins for government contractors, vendors and suppliers will do the same...while a more efficient government is a priority for all mayoral it enough to balance the budget?

"On the finance side, it doesn't seem that any of the candidates really are willing to step up and say 'this is what needs to be done,'" said Michael Pagano, dean of the UIC Urban Planning Department.

UIC professor Michael Pagano says that what needs to be done is raising revenue, meaning raising taxes and or deep cuts in services.

"Every single budget has to put on the table," said Del Valle. "There cannot be any sacred cows."

All candidates say garbage collection is ripe for reform. Braun and Chico say picking up trash ward by ward is unaffordable. Emanuel says establishing a price per ton will save money.

"After you establish that price, I go to the city workers and management and say, 'OK, you come up with the savings, you achieve the savings, you got six to nine months to do it,'" said Emanuel.

After the parking meter controversy, none of the candidates are talking about selling off assets any time soon.

"If it was a bad deal, it needs to be renegotiated," said Braun.

"You are going to have a tough time selling a privatization from here on in," said Chico.

Although Chico said he is not opposed to privatizing public assets as long as it does not include the 9-1-1 center or the water supply.

Rahm Emanuel is in favor of placing a moratorium on privatization until a formal policy is adopted by the city council.

Watkins and Walls are against the sale of assets.