Bill Daley on Wednesday unveiled a strategy to grow Chicago out of its financial crisis — to a population of 3 million within the next decade — even as he opened the door to a commuter tax and constitutional amendment to solve a looming pension crisis.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has emphatically and repeatedly ruled out a commuter tax for fear it would put the kibosh on his efforts to lure corporate headquarters downtown.
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bill Daley’s brother, also opposed a commuter tax.
But in a luncheon address to the City Club of Chicago, Bill Daley argued that the $42 billion in unfunded pension liabilities at the local level — $35,000 for every Chicago household — will require the next mayor to consider the previously unthinkable.
“We must find new revenues and everything must be on the table. Marijuana, casinos, commuter taxes, real estate transfer taxes and reforms to the system must all be on the table,” Daley said to the applause of his standing-room-only audience of movers and shakers.
Daley said the only revenue source he’ll take off the table is yet another property tax increase after a $1.2 billion avalanche of them under Emanuel and the double-whammy of skyrocketing assessments.
“I am determined to avoid new property taxes next year and, over my four years, I promise the taxpayers of Chicago that, for every dollar of new property taxes, there will be a dollar of cuts first,” he said.
“We will overhaul every agency of government with the objective to cut the waste. … Government does not exist for the insiders. That’s the old way. … If existing programs work, great. If they don’t, we will end them because we do not have a dollar of taxpayers’ money to waste.”