Council approves plan to borrow $1.1 billion

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
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The money would refinance already-refinanced debt incurred during the tenure of Mayor Richard Daley years and payoff a lawsuit judgement.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago City Council voted Wednesday to support the mayor's plan to borrow $1.1 billion, despite the city's poor credit rating.

The money would refinance already-refinanced debt incurred during the tenure of Mayor Richard Daley years and payoff a judgement on a lawsuit filed during the previous administration.

The borrowing is an effort to repair the city's poor credit rating, but critics compare the move to using your last credit card to pay off unmanageable credit card debt.

"I believe we were backed in a corner on this one," Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, said

"I could not in good conscience vote to strap the Chicago taxpayer with $1.1 billion in additional borrowing without a sound financial plan of how we're going to generate the revenue to pay this deal back," said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward.

On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was asked about the $600 million teacher pension payment that the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools system is required to make at the end of this month.

"Obviously, deadlines have a way to focus people's minds," Emanuel said.

Emanuel still holds out hope that the state General Assembly will pass legislation to bail out CPS and not authorize bankruptcy for the nation's third largest public school system.

"What's bankrupt are the taxing ideas and funding ideas of the state," Emanuel said.

Emanuel also had some advice for Gov. Bruce Rauner, who this week launched an ad campaign criticizing Democrats while promoting Rauner's pro-business, anti-union agenda.

"Tone it down," Emanuel said. "Hear what the other side's saying. You'll find out when you listen that there's a lot more areas of agreement."

Also, the mayor gave a "full vote of confidence" to police Superintendent Garry McCarthy after a Crain's Chicago Business editorial suggested the superintendent be fired, cited rising violence.

The council's public safety chairman said he remains a staunch McCarthy supporter.

"I like his attitude, I like his approach and when he says he's doing one thing, he takes care of it and does it exactly how he plans it," said Ald. Ariel Reboyras, 30th Ward.