Chicago mayor hopeful Paul Vallas advocates multi-year budget plan
Paul G. Vallas, candidate for Chicago mayor, believes that Chicago can come back from financial disaster with a structured multi-year budget plan.
Vallas recently was featured on the radio talk show (AM 560) Morning Answer, with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson. In an in-depth discussion, Vallas shared his budget plan for Chicago.
"What I did was look at three things: First of all, my approach in all of my budgets is to lay out multi-year budgets — like 5-year plans — that's how I turned a billion dollar structural deficit in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) into a billion dollars in cash balances when I left," Vallas said.
Vallas was previously the CEO for Chicago schools, where he shouldered a great deal of responsibility.
Vallas' financial plan includes $250 million in additional property tax increases over the next five years, instituting a cap at 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
Vallas explained that the state will need an agenda that is not only real but also practical and can be phased in over five years.
"The things I've articulated are things that are doable, and I've also laid out a whole series of measures to bring spending under control over the next five years, so that instead of asking property tax payers to finance the remaining pension obligations, which are well over a billion dollars because funding for pensions will have to increase because of the state mandates," Vallas said.
"What I'd like to do on the state and spending side is to essentially limit property taxes to 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, and that's individual increases."
Vallas explained that the design of his system is meant to be doable for property owners because you won't see property taxes rise more than the rate of inflation, which he stated hasn't been more than 2-3% regularly.
"I think this is a reasonable approach to take over a five-year period," Vallas said. "That's the way we have to approach this and what I've tried to do is be very articulate in the areas I will cut and some of the ideas I have at the state level, as well as what I would do on the revenue side."
Negotiate pension funding compromises
Vallas explained that while it is possible to bring in revenue without raising property taxes more, it would require a constitutional amendment.
“Getting a constitutional amendment to have the ability to negotiate pension funding compromises and have them stick and not have the very political Supreme Court overrule them time and time again is the most direct way to do that,” Vallas said. “Short of that, you’ve got to be realistic and practical.”
Vallas explained that he is trying to limit the tax increases while still bringing in the funding needed to keep the current infrastructure in place.
“I have never been one to present proposals that were not substantive, so worst case scenario, these are the conditions that I can create, I believe,” Vallas said.
Vallas is running against Lori Lightfoot and Garry McCarthy for the position of Chicago Mayor.