Chicago Mayor Richard Daley does not appreciate criticism--whether it's coming from the media, Democrats or Republicans. On Tuesday, he made this abundantly clear.
"Everybody wants to raid something," Daley said Tuesday, according to the Chicago News Cooperative. "I'm not going to listen to state government for financial advice. I'll tell you one thing: The city of Chicago should not listen to the federal or state government for financial advice. We would be bankrupt today. We [should] not listen to them, your state senators or representatives. No way. Look what they've done with the state budget and now they're telling us what to do with the city budget. No way."
Daley was likely responding to recent criticism from State Rep. John Fritchey, who on Sunday held a press conference to discuss his plan for reforming Chicago's tax increment financing districts, or TIF districts. Tax-increment financing is a system for parsing out tax dollars from valuable property and spending it on development projects. (Learn more about TIFs here.)
With Chicago Public Schools facing a budget crisis, many people have come forward asking that this money be funneled into the struggling school system. Fritchey said Sunday that his legislation would require that all TIF funds not specifically appropriated for projects be returned each year so that they may be redirected to the taxing bodies on a pro rata basis. Meaning the money could fund classrooms and more police officers--without raising taxes.
"If you take the numbers based on 2009, this program, this legislation would have resulted in $500 million going back to the Chicago Public Schools," Fritchey said of his proposal Sunday, according to ABC 7. "That's enough to wipe out $370 million deficit plus a surplus."
Fritchey's plan drew support from Raise Your Hand, a fairly new coalition of Chicago public schools and organizations associated with or advocating for public education. The group sent Daley a letter on August 1 urging the mayor to "take a closer look" at the TIF program and its "annual diversion of more than $250 million in CPS property taxes away from education."
Daley may not want to hear it, but the public will be given a chance to weigh in on the city's budget in a few weeks. According to the Chicago Tribune, public hearings will be held on Sept. 9, Sept. 10 and Sept. 16 and residents can tell the Daley administation what they want the city budget to look like. Currently, there is an estimated budget shortfall of $655 million.
One thing Chicagoans can be confident about when Daley gives his budget address in October is that a tax hike is not in the works.
"You cannot raise a fee. You cannot raise taxes," Daley said. "I don't care what people tell me. You can't do it. They cannot afford it."