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City Council Progressives Unite to Call for Independent Budget Office

By Ted Cox | May 8, 2013 11:21am
 Ald. Ameya Pawar and Ald. Michele Smith have joined forces with other progressives to push their proposal for an independent budget office.
Ald. Ameya Pawar and Ald. Michele Smith have joined forces with other progressives to push their proposal for an independent budget office.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Rival groups of self-proclaimed progressives in the City Council united to put forth legislation to create an independent budget oversight agency Wednesday.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said they were "cobbling together an independent budget office" by uniting proposals put forth by members of the Progressive Reform Caucus and the Paul Douglas Alliance. Pawar is the only member of both groups, which have sometimes been rivals.

Basically, the united proposal would create an Office of Independent Budget Analysis, originally put forth by Pawar and Aldermen Michele Smith (43rd) and Pat Dowell (3rd) in December, and pay for it by eliminating the Office of the Legislative Inspector General, an idea put forth by Ald. Will Burns (4th) of the Paul Douglas Alliance. The independent budget office has previously been mired in committee.

Eliminating the LIG and giving all investigative powers to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson would save the city $300,000 budgeted for 2013. Pawar proposes putting half of that to creation of the independent budget office, along with $250,000 from Chicago's Innovation Loan Fund.

The groups say they expect Emanuel to support the independent budget office, based on his commitment to transparency and independent analysis.