Chicago aldermen and community groups are pressing for city council action on a resolution in support of directing tax increment financing (TIF) surplus funds to the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools system.
Aldermen and the Raise Your Hand education coalition plan to hold two separate press conferences in support of the resolution Tuesday morning ahead of the council's budget committee meeting, during which the TIF surplus measure is scheduled to be considered. The resolution is being proposed as CPS grapples with a $480 million budget hole in the current fiscal year and other financial challenges.
Members of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Parents 4 Teachers, Communities United, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Northside Action for Justice are expected to join Raise Your Hand members Tuesday morning to "demand that the TIF funds be declared as a surplus for short-term relief" at CPS.
They will also "call on the city and state to work together for sustainable revenue to address the structural deficit that has been ignored for years," according to a press announcement.
"Our system is relying on unprecedented borrowing with exorbitant interest rates and we need to put a stop to this," Raise Your Hand Board Member Brenda Delgado said in a statement. "It's time for solutions, and a short-term solution is the TIF surplus. This should have been done prior to the recent borrowing of $725 (million)."
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) is the lead sponsor of the non-binding TIF surplus resolution, which is cosponsored by a total of 34 aldermen, according to his office. He and other aldermen will speak in support of the measure before the budget committee meeting.
"[I]t is in the best interest of our city, its public schools system, and the youth it serves that an immediate new TIF surplus action, in addition to the surplus declared in August 2015, be utilized to mitigate any program cuts, layoffs of staff, and reductions in services in the Chicago Public Schools," the resolution reads.
UPDATE (2:43 p.m.): The TIF surplus resolution did not get a vote Tuesday in the budget committee. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), who chairs the budget committee, used a procedural move to send the measure to the finance committee.
The TIF surplus resolution's lead sponsor, Ramirez-Rosa, released following statement:
I'm very disappointed that the Budget and Government Operations Committee voted to stall R2016-21 on a 10 to 8 vote. The Mayor's Budget Director - Alex Holt - was prepared to testify in Budget Committee on a TIF surplus, and 18-percent from any TIF surplus returns to the City's budget; the Budget Committee was the place to hear this matter, and today's procedural tactic is nothing more than an unnecessary delay. Despite today's delay there is nothing preventing Mayor Emanuel from beginning the process of structuring a TIF surplus that can be voted on in March. Governor Rauner has made it clear that he will not act to protect our schools and our children. As a City, it is our responsibility to protect our children from dangerous layoffs and cuts by taking TIF surplus action and moving some of the $1.38 billion TIF balance to our schools ... We cannot play politics with our children's future.