Mayor Emanuel Will Deliver Budget To The City Council A Month Early
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a departure from previous years, has announced that he will present his budget to the city council a month early to help with the city's pension crisis.
Emanuel plans to introduce his budget to the City Council in September, rather than October, so more voices can be added to the debate over the city's finances. CBS2 reports Emanuel said in a statement:
"I think it's important for the city of Chicago to seize the moment, and - as best it can - determine its own future, and not have it held somewhat by Springfield, and their inaction, There's places to find additional savings, and I encourage everybody to make sure that they bring forth serious ideas. Look under the pillow on the couch, find the last quarter, everything that you need to do, and I've instructed a number of aldermen - I've instructed all of them - bring forth your ideas. You want to present an entire budget? I welcome it."
Last year, Emanuel waited until October to release his budget, which resulted in grumbling amongst the Progressive Caucus in the City Council. At the time, Alderman Scott Waguespack questioned the Chicago Police Department about the budget for police overtime, even asking Superintendent Garry McCarthy for specific, month-by-month breakdowns of costs. While the superintendent and the budget chairman agreed that was a request that the police department could potentially fulfill, he never received any information. Waguespack told WBEZ then:
"What we're just gonna vote yes, even though we don't know about $100 million worth of budgeting and specifics on it? That is unacceptable. We actually have to vote on it, which really puts us in a horrible position."
Additionally, there were complaints regarding the budget's dealing with the city's very real pension crisis. At the time, Emanuel told reporters "The court has gummed up the works" for working on a solution to the city's financial problems, referring to pending court cases that would later determine the future of Illinois' and Chicago's pension deals. Despite the public and private grievances, the budget ended up passing with only four dissenting votes.
After receiving criticism of the recent $1.1 billion debt restructuring plan, Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown said that new revenue ideas would be incorporated into this and future budgets. Brown told the Sun-Times that new revenue "has to be part of a larger discussion around — not just this year’s budget, but budgets going forward."
"I understand the frustration," Brown told reporters. "But what the administration has to bring to this body is a responsible plan that addresses all of the upcoming obligations of the city. That’s what the mayor is committed to doing."
Now, with what appears to be a clearer and accelerated roadmap ahead for the city, it might be an all hands on deck moment for local government. This could also be the first sign of Rahm's famously aggressive demeanor changing. As the Tribune reported after his re-election:
Pressed again on whether he had heard the voters and would change his often brusque style, Emanuel responded with just one word:
Reporting by Jim Bochnowski and aaroncynic