Mayor Emanuel criticized for proposed property tax hike

April 24, 2014 (CHICAGO)

While the mayor had good news to report on the public education front, he acknowledged mounting criticism of his plan to raise property taxes to pay for pensions.

At a news conference earlier Thursday to address Chicago Public Schools' improving graduation rate and the new plans for a selective enrollment high school named after the president, Emanuel responded to his critics, inviting them to propose their own solutions.

"I'm not in any position where I'm going to vote for a property tax increase when no other ideas have been explored," said Ald. John Arena of the 45th Ward.

"If people have ideas, bring them forward, but they have to be sustainable and consistent," said Emanuel.

Arena is one of a growing number of aldermen who are revolting against the proposed tax increase. Gov. Pat Quinn, who has included property tax relief in his budget, is taking more time to consider the pension reform bill that authorizes the city to raise taxes.

Quinn's Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, has responded to the proposal with a series of robo-calls to Chicago residents.

"We're putting the problem of the mismanagement of our pension system in our government on the backs of homeowners and taxpayers, and that's wrong," said Rauner.

"He hasn't even gotten into the Governor's Mansion to measure the drapes and he's already acting like a career politician," said Emanuel.

"They're going the wrong way on taxes and I'm going to protect the taxpayers in our state," said Rauner.

Mayor Emanuel said he remembered a time when his Republican fishing buddy Rauner would have supported his pension reform plan.

"Once he was for it, now he's against it when he's running for office," Emanuel said. "He's acting like a career politician in my view."

The governor's office contacted some city aldermen directly to discuss alternatives to the mayor's plan to raise property taxes. The campaign for Illinois governor is clearly a major complication in the city's pension reform effort.

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