Report co-author Saqib Bhatti said Chicago can no longer be “held hostage” by businesses that “want to be showered with tax breaks” and “threaten to leave when asked to pay” more.
A new report outlines how Chicago can raise $12 billion in revenue with a slew of tax increases as well as some budget cuts.
The money would fund an array of services and tax relief.
The report, issued Wednesday, was co-authored by Saqib Bhatti, a member of Johnson’s transition team, and Gabriela Noa Betancourt, a senior research analyst at the Action Center on Race & the Economy. Bhatti is a member of the transition team’s Economic Vitality & Equity Subcommittee.
Bhatti said Chicago can no longer be “held hostage” by businesses that “want to be showered with tax breaks” and “threaten to leave when asked to pay” more.
“The greatest tax burden right now is on small businesses and poor families,” he said, “because we don’t make the wealthy and major corporations pay their fair share.”
Bhatti made no apologies for aiming high and including controversial ideas that demand what he called “political courage” to pursue.
“We’re not gonna win these things without a fight,” Bhatti said Wednesday. “Entrenched interests and the business community are aligned against us in a major way. So, the idea that we shouldn’t be ambitious, to me, is just political malpractice.”
One of the recommended cuts is reducing the Chicago Police Department’s $1.94 billion budget by 9%, or $174 million — and not filling about 1,700 department vacancies.
“Over the past 10 years, 38 percent of Chicago’s budget has gone towards policing and it hasn’t actually made us safer,” Bhatti said.
“If throwing more money at the police department made us safer and safer, we’d be one of the safest cities in the country. We would have seen crime plummet over the last decade or so. That hasn’t happened.”