Rahm presents 2013 budget plan
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 10:10
Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented the 2013 budget to the Chicago City Council Oct. 10. The mayor’s proposed budget balances the finances of the city “without raising a single tax or introducing a single new fee.”
“Chicago is known as the City that Works,” said Emanuel. “This is our opportunity to deliver a budget that works for our taxpayers."
The key to Emanuel’s budget is that rather than raising taxes it emphasizes reforming government.
“Our goal is to reform where we can; cut where we must; and invest in where it matters: providing greater opportunities for our children, better services for our neighborhoods, and stronger growth for our small businesses,” said Emanuel.
Some of the major changes for small business in the budget include the opening of a “Small Business Center” in the Department of Business and Consumer Protection (BACP), as well as completely eliminating the Employee Head Tax, that taxes employers a monthly fee for each employee, by the end of 2013.
Emanuel believes that Chicago is a leader in job growth. “When it comes to job creation the Second City is second to none,” said Emanuel. “Chicago led the nation’s large cities in job growth in the past year and the largest drop in unemployment.”
As Emanuel stated the budget also allows greater opportunities for children. The budget includes 5,000 additional early education slots, 3,000 additional afterschool program slots, as well as 1,000 additional summer job slots. One of the largest increases in investments in children comes from eye exams and glasses now being made available for 23,000 children, a marked increase from the previous 7,000.
In order to provide better services for neighborhoods, the budget allows for recycling to be expanded citywide by the end of 2013. The budget also takes aim at the Emerald Ash Borer, an Asian beetle that has been destroying ash trees in Chicago since 2003, by hiring an additional 18 crews to deal with the invasive bug as well as trim trees.
Emanuel also has the city partnering with non-profit food pantries so that the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) can provide 150,000 additional healthy meals at almost 400 “Emergency Food Box” locations throughout the city. Emanuel also plans to open up DFSS service centers that will allow the city to provide services to an additional 3,000 victims of domestic violence.
The budget additionally allows for the city to enhance public safety by providing funding for the Chicago Police Department to hire additional officers and always be at full force. The budget also proposes new allocation of police resources to districts that need them the most.
In his address to City Council, Emanuel not only urged Council members to approve this budget, but also urged Springfield to take on the issue of pension reform.
“In less than four years, payment to meet our pension obligations will comprise 22 percent of the City’s budge – one out of every five dollars,” said Emanuel. “We must come together to ensure the security of both our city retirees and our city taxpayer. And what we really need is for our representatives in Springfield to step up, take their share of responsibility and not miss this critical opportunity once again.”