Chicago's minimum wage will go up gradually to $13 an hour by 2019 under a mayor-backed plan that cleared the full city council by a 44-5 vote at a special meeting Tuesday. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the council debate and vote.
Chicagoans involved in the hard-fought campaign to close the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants in the city are demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel pull from the airwaves his first campaign commercial touting his role in shuttering the facilities.
Chicago mayoral candidate and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia stressed his support for a graduated state income tax at a Thursday morning University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) panel discussion on race and inequality.
Garcia said property taxes, which are a major source of revenue for public education in the city and state, are "very regressive in terms of how they affect the general population" and are "not the best source to fund schools."
"A fairer system of taxation would be a graduated state income tax, or something that is more progressive tied to an income tax," Garcia said in a follow-up with reporters after the talk, which was sponsored by UIC's Great Cities Institute. "I think that is a much more sustainable funding source for schools, for human services and things of that nature. I think it's one that we really need to look at. States that have that type of progressive taxation tend to have better-funded school systems and less disparities in education."
Although a citywide advisory referendum asking Chicagoans whether they support switching to an elected school board has been crowded off the ballot for a third time, education activists have a backup plan.
Parents, teachers and community groups are banding together to place a separate, non-binding question about an elected Chicago Board of Education on the February municipal ballot in each of the city's 50 wards. The coalition, which is unhappy with the policies endorsed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked school board, officially launched their ward-level referendum drive on Monday.
"While the mayor makes his moves by squashing democracy and disrespecting parents, we will make our moves by knocking on doors and by giving the people [the ability] to do the one thing the mayor's afraid of. We are going to give people the chance to vote for an elected school board," Action Now's Executive Director Katelyn Johnson said at the referendum drive's kick off, held in front of Ronald E. McNair Elementary School in the city's Austin neighborhood. (Back in April, the Chicago Board of Education voted to "turnaround" McNair, which involves firing and replacing all school staffers, to improve its academic performance.)