CN Jan. 15, 2015

(note: we’ve included time markers, so you can go directly to that point in the video).

Fox 32 Chicago’s Mike Flannery is Fired Up.

He was in Springfield for Bruce Rauner’s inauguration on Monday. He tells us that he spent some time combing through the transition document Rauner’s team prepared, and it looks like there are some tax increases in store for service providers.

Here’s how Mike describes it:

13:00 He campaigned last year promising that he would consider and probably propose an extension of the sales tax to services. The boom in downtown Chicago has in large part been driven by these corporate headquarters – Mayor Emanuel boasts that thirty of them have relocated downtown since 2011 when ho took office – one of the things that attracts them to Chicago is the corporate headquarters ecosystem that’s downtown. The lawyers, the accountants, the human relations people, the business consultants, the merger and acquisitions experts – they’re all right there, within walking distance. And they’re also largely untaxed.

In his transition report, released last week, they talked about the kind of money that could be raised from the different categories. If the State sales tax were applied to lawyers, to attorney fees, something like $167 million dollars could be raised each year. And they listed eight or ten other services in descending order of revenue – something more than $600 million. So the question becomes, would local governments also apply their sales taxes? In downtown Chicago it’s about 9.25%. That would be a source of revenue for the Board of Ed, for the City, for the pension funds. So there’s a lot of money at stake.

18:01 I think we’re gonna get this service tax. We’re gonna get the sales tax extended…Governor Rauner has indicated that he doesn’t want to add to the big pile of unpaid bills. he wants to balance the budget. It’s a couple of billion dollars or so out of balance and next year its gonna be even worse, in the fiscal year that starts in July.

And if the lawyers and their clients will have to pay, so will a lot of other people, Flannery thinks.

19:00 I’m sympathetic to the teachers’ union argument, and the other public employees’ unions argument that it’s the pension theft bill. Quinn referred to it when he signed it as a pension reform bill. But something is coming from Rauner. He’s talked a lot about sacrifice. I think he used the word about 5 or 6 times in his inaugural address. So we’ll see.

Pat Quinn left on a sour note as he issued a slew of executive orders on his way out the door. 

10:20  There was one raising the minimum wage for the employees of state contractors to ten dollars an hour. Really? You’ve been governor for almost eight years and you did that in the last eight hours. That said, the one that really requires more discussion is the one that requires the governor of Illinois, every May 1, to disclose his or her complete income taxes. It’s been done voluntarily by, I believe, all of the governors that I’ve covered since Dan Walker. It is disgraceful that Bruce Rauner has refused to disclose his full income taxes…He’s the richest guy ever to be elected to office in Illinois – ever to be the State’s Chief Executive. He owes that to us.

That said, he’s in. He’s got tough, tough decisions to make.

We talked at length about the public hearings this week regarding  the building of an Obama Library in Jackson or Washington Park. 

3:01 The people I talk to on the south side – white, black – they’re desperate for that Obama Library. And the idea that it would go in the general area where the president worked and lived- the South Siders really want it.

And the University of Chicago, which is pushing the south-side proposal, explained why it wants the parks option.

7:30 The University says that they heard from the community -we don’t want residents displaced. The University does indeed have a ton of dough – they’ve got billions and billions in endowments. They’ve got these smart Nobel Prize winners who help bring in billions and billions of dollars. So they could have bought up any part of the neighborhood.

The University’s gotten a bad rap – In Woodlawn there have been generations of complaints about displacement there, and they don’t want to repeat that to the north of the campus.

So the parks option seemed easier for the U of C, Flannery says, because it wouldn’t displace residents. But the quietly-nagging question involves the Obamas themselves.

3:51 It appears they’re not going to be living here. I think they’ve moved on. That’s the sneaking fear everybody’s got, and it’s the old Chicago paranoia. But Bill Clinton didn’t go back to Little Rock. Didn’t go back to Hope.

Turning to the Chicago elections, can Rahm Emanuel grab the 50% + 1  vote he needs to avoid a runoff?

24:10 I don’t know. I think it’s really hanging in the balance. And I think the fact that he agreed to five debates showed that he’s feeling heat. Let’s give him credit. Rich Daley didn’t do any at all in the last elections.

24:40 To know Rahm Emanuel is not necessarily to love him, is it? They talk about Ronald Reagan having been a “Teflon politician”. And maybe Richie Daley to some degree. Nothing sticks. Somehow Rahm is a Velcro politician. Everything sticks…the idea that he’s the one – that it was Rahm in 2011 who suddenly made Chicago two different cities.



About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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