Governor Pat Quinn signed a pension reform bill into law Monday forcing some Chicago workers to pay more in benefits and to retire when they are older. It also forces Chicago residents to pay more in property taxes.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel says he will not raise property taxes in the first year, a consolation, he suggests, albeit a small one. Meanwhile, for the governor, his gesture of goodwill working with city government to allow the tax hike comes at a high price when he runs for re-election in six short months.
Chicago is second only to Detroit when it comes to horrible credit rating. The mayor, with big dreams of righting the financial wrongs, explains that the governors blessing in the form of pension reform today is a good thing.
Quinn is running for re-election in November and raising property taxes on city homeowners and businesses leaves a blemish on the career Democrat’s resume. After signing the bill he said in a statement “As the mayor and members of the Chicago City Council work to identify savings to meet their obligations under Senate Bill 1922, I urge them to rule out a property tax increase on Chicago homeowners and businesses … I recognize that Chicago’s mission to find real solutions to its financial challenges will not be easy. It will require hard work, creative solutions, and difficult decisions.”
Meanwhile opponents of governor’s action sounded off.
We Are One Chicago, a coalition of labor unions affected said, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pension-slashing plan, now signed by the Governor, is wrong for Chicago. This is no victory for the Mayor, but a huge, missed opportunity to find a truly fair, constitutional solution.
And Republican Bruce Rauner didn’t miss the chance to launch on his political opponent saying, “I would have vetoed this law but Pat Quinn likes to raise taxes and left homeowners holding the bag again. This should have been a no-brainer – veto the bill, don’t squeeze Chicago families even more.”
The contract doesn’t deal with police, firefighter or teachers’ pensions.