City Council passed $7 billion budget

The Chicago City Council passed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $7 billion budget on Tuesday by a 45-5 vote.

A small, but nonetheless controversial part of the budget was the elevation in the cigarette tax, and the tougher restrictions placed on electronic or e-cigarettes.

“This is consistent with everything I have ever done in public life. What are called ‘e-cigarettes’ are as addictive as what are known as regular cigarettes. I want them behind the counter and not available to easy access,” Emanuel said.

The mayor had proposed a 75-cent levy on the already highest cigarette taxes in the country, but lowered the amount to 50 cents in a last-minute deal with aldermen.

“We still think the cigarette tax is high but at least it shows a sense of compromise,” said Ald. Howard Brookins, Ward 21.

That money has to be made-up somewhere. So, the fines for parking next to a fire hydrant will go from 100 to $150. But some aldermen say, banking on cigarette tax revenue is not guaranteed.

“Our residents will continue the migration out of the city into the suburbs and out of state to get cigarettes, and while they are there, they’ll buy gas or buy groceries,” Brookins said.

Emanuel said his budget is solid and doesn’t rely on any gimmicks or smoke and mirrors.

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