UPDATE: This statement has been updated to address a new set of false claims from Michael Negron. To be clear, the campaign has never proposed specific tax brackets, and any claim otherwise is simply a lie.

 

Over the past few months, I have enjoyed sharing ideas with a crowd of thoughtful, committed candidates. We know from our last year of engaging thousands of people across our ward that the voters of the 47th Ward are deeply committed to exploring how we can address our toughest challenges and implement policies that reflect our values. That’s why I am disappointed that Michael Negron has resorted to misleading voters and engaging in machine-style scare tactics about where I stand on revenue.

I have always been clear about the set of solutions on the table. None of them is easy, and none of them alone will solve our challenges. But I believe all of them are necessary to consider, together as a community, if we want to provide a better alternative to rising property taxes.

In four short years, our city will have a billion dollar budget gap from pensions alone, to say nothing of badly needed investment in our schools, infrastructure, and social services.

When Chicago politicians wanted our votes in 2015, they told us that they wouldn’t raise property taxes to solve the budget deficit. Since then, City Hall has pushed through significant property tax increases, new fees, and increasing fines just to keep our city afloat. That has meant Chicagoans fleeing the city and being forced into bankruptcy, all while we still have a large budget deficit to address. It’s time we tackle our city’s toughest problems head-on. We can’t continue down the path the current administration has set us on: cutting schools and mental health services, all while increasing property taxes, fees, and fines.

As we face our financial challenges, we cannot continue to rely so heavily on property taxes, which force many neighbors out of communities and place a disproportionate burden on those least able to pay. That’s why I have proposed that we look at progressive options that will allow us to reduce our property tax burden, as well as think creatively about ways our city can reduce inefficiencies through measures such as reforming our broken TIF program. Some of these solutions have been proposed by various alderpeople, and many have been implemented by cities across the country.

Below are some of the solutions that I think we should consider, together:

A progressive real estate transactions tax on downtown properties: The Apple Store on Michigan Avenue is selling for around $79 million, and approximately 42 cranes are helping erect large buildings. By increasing the transactions tax on properties in and around downtown, we can ask individuals and corporations that are doing well to help keep Chicago afloat financially.

Marijuana legalization: Gov. Pritzker and the General Assembly are poised to legalize marijuana, which, if done correctly, will bring tens of millions of dollars to Chicago while also helping reverse the many detrimental impacts of the “War on Drugs.” This is common sense and long overdue.

TIF reform: In 2017, TIFs in Chicago captured $660 million of property taxes, nearly one-third of all property tax revenue. Too often, TIFs have been used to line developers’ pockets, and have not been an efficient way to fund our schools or infrastructure. We need serious TIF reform, with an ultimate goal to phase out TIFs so that we can use our city’s property tax revenue more efficiently and effectively.

A high-speed trading tax: We could add a very modest tax on transactions at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and do a deep analysis on what the best-fit rate would be to avoid sending traders to the suburbs or out of state. People want their businesses in Chicago for a reason.

A progressive city income tax: Most other large cities are not so heavily reliant on property taxes. Instead, many of our sister cities—New York and Washington, D.C., and even Columbus and St. Louis—have some sort of municipal income tax, some focusing on corporations and others on individual residents. This would better reflect the way our economy has grown and reduce the burden on middle- and low-income residents.

As you probably know, legislators in Springfield are just beginning to roll out details about their own plan to restructure our state’s income tax to be progressive. We know this type of tax would benefit the large majority of residents because, as it stands now, ninety-seven percent of Illinoisans will receive a tax cut under Governor Pritzker’s plan. Chicago should, similarly, work to relieve the disproportionate tax obligation on everyday residents by reducing regressive property taxes through pursuing more progressive solutions.

Eliminating waste and creating more transparency: It is important to remember that we won’t be able to cut our way out of this problem. We should, though, identify wasteful spending and create efficiencies. We can immediately empower the city’s Inspector General to review programs like Alderman Burke’s worker’s compensation program, and by enforcing the consent decree, we can cut down on the $100 million we spend every year on compensating the victims of police misconduct, to name a few examples.

On February 26, we came in first place with nearly forty percent of the vote, because neighbors want bold, independent leaders. Now, instead of talking about his own record—as Rahm Emanuel’s chief of policy—Michael Negron has chosen a desperate attempt to mislead and scare voters about where I stand.

Time and time again, too many of our elected officials have given us false choices and quick-fix solutions to our toughest challenges, which have done little more than kick the can down the road. As your alderman, I won’t promise easy answers: I will fight to ensure good policy trumps politics, and to bring people together to move our city forward. As always, I appreciate neighbors who want to discuss their ideas and give feedback on mine. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at matt@matt47.com or 312-488-9345.