3 months ago from Chicago Tribune
Urges aldermen not to raise property taxes
From from Chicago Tribune:
Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a pension measure backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that would cut benefits and raise the retirement age for workers in two of the city’s pension funds.
Today was the deadline for Quinn to act on the legislation, and he had been mulling it over since lawmakers sent it to him in April. The bill presented a bit of a political quandary for the re-election-seeking Quinn. That’s because it requires the city to make higher yearly pension contributions, which Emanuel has said he would seek to pay for through a property tax increase. Quinn has campaigned on reducing the property tax burden.
In a rare signing statement, Quinn noted that he opposed an earlier version of the bill that would have required the property tax increase. It was later removed and the bill he signed today leaves the funding source up to Emanuel and the Chicago City Council. Still, Quinn urged city leaders not to raise property taxes to come up with the money.
“Chicago’s finances can and should be set on the track to long-term stability in a way that does not hit homeowners the hardest,” Quinn said in his signing statement.
Quinn received political cover to OK the measure in the form of a separate bill he signed last week that will allow the city to raise 911 fees on land lines and cellphones by up to $1.40 a month, to $3.90. If the City Council increases the fee by the full amount, it would generate an estimated $50 million a year – which could put off the need for a property tax increase until after next year’s city elections.
The pension bill requires the city to make additional annual payments into the pension systems, adding $50 million to the total in each of five successive years, equaling $250 million in the fifth year.
Meanwhile, city workers would pay more toward their retirement – a total of $1,500 more a year after five years for the average city workers. Retired workers would get smaller cost-of-living increases.
The bulk of retirees would get annual increases of half the rate of inflation or 3 percent, whichever is less, based on the amount of their annual pension payments upon retirement. The plan also includes a cost-of-living increase of at least 1 percent every year for retired workers who are getting pensions of $22,000 or less. Currently, all retirees get 3 percent, based on their previous year's pension income.
Quinn’s Republican challenger, Winnetka businessman Bruce Rauner, had called on Quinn to veto the measure. Rauner contends the bill didn’t go far enough to move employees into a 401(k)-style plan.
“I would have vetoed this law – but Pat Quinn likes to raise taxes and left homeowners holding the bag again,” Rauner said in a statement today. “This should have been a no-brainer – veto the bill, don't squeeze Chicago families even more.”