The Chicago City Council passed a law today that will subtract a person’s outstanding parking and speeding ticket debt, and other such citations, from their state income tax return. The law is revealing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s approach toward taxes.
Emanuel has dealt with the city’s fiscal strain not by major across the board tax increases, but rather spending cuts and an array of small revenue measures. The Mayor’s first budget – which passed this November – included taxes like $2 a day for cars to park downtown, increased the fine for a car owner not getting a city vehicle sticker, and increased the fee paid by charged criminals whose cars get impounded.
Now the city has worked out an agreement with the state comptroller regarding outstanding tickets that is reported to affect more than 100,000 Illinois residents and will raise $8 million to $20 million for Chicago. The city spends $6.2 billion annually.
“Now at every level,” Emanuel said at the council meeting today, “we have protected the taxpayers of the city of Chicago, by not raising property taxes, not creating an income tax, not raising the gas tax.”
“Law abiding citizens cannot carry the weight of everybody else,” Emanuel added, berating those not paying their outstanding citations as “deadbeats.”
The measure passed 41-8. Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) was one of the ‘no’ votes and voiced objections to making someone pay an outstanding fine without looking at their individual case.
“Probably 80 percent of these we have to go after, they are good, but what about the 20 percent,” Fioretti asked. The council meeting was otherwise subdued – a stark contrast to last month’s affair that featured dozens of Chicago activists fiercely protesting ordinances related to the G8/NATO summit.
A few other key developments at the meeting:
• The council passed a ban on the sale of synthetic stimulants disguised as bath salts that has similar effects to cocaine.
• The council passed a law that gives preferences to Chicago-based companies in the bidding for city contracts when all other factors are equal.
• Ald. Rick Munoz (22nd) introduced an ordinance, which we reported on today, prohibiting police from shutting down social media devices during the G8 and NATO summits this May. The ordinance was referred to the Public Safety Committee.
• An ordinance to put watchmen at vacant buildings, which PI also looked at today, is stuck in the committee process and was not discussed in the full council meeting.