LINCOLN SQUARE — Just weeks after outlining his plan to spend $16.5 million in Tax Increment Financing dollars on public projects at parks, libraries and playgrounds, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) is pulling the plug on those proposals and offering the funds as surplus to help close a near $500-million Chicago Public Schools budget gap.
"I'm stopping the process. We're not going to allocate those dollars unless there's a budget solution," Pawar told DNAinfo Chicago. "What I'm saying is 'Here is the 47th Ward TIF.' It's all on the table."
Along with Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) and Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), Pawar is introducing a resolution into City Council on Wednesday that will call on all aldermen to identify a TIF surplus by ward and TIF district.
The resolution works as a companion to legislation previously introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), which called for the city to funnel unallocated TIF dollars back to CPS.
Rather than allowing Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his budget office to decide where to sweep for TIF surplus dollars, Pawar said aldermen should be leading the effort, stating which TIF projects they're willing to give up.
"Let's do that locally and let's make sure we do it in an equitable way," he said. "My bigger point is, let's lead with the districts that have more."
Having prioritized education in the 47th Ward since taking office in 2011, Pawar said he's not willing to see deep cuts hit CPS classrooms.
"I've spent my entire aldermanic career working on k-12," he said. "The schools are the starting point for everything we do."
The resolution also squarely places blame for the budget crisis on Gov. Bruce Rauner, who Pawar said is thriving on the chaos created within CPS.
The resolution reads, in part: "Governor Rauner's recent actions to sabotage CPS bond issues and constant calls for bankruptcy will force draconian cuts to classrooms, programs, and deepen the divide between working families in Chicago and the ultra-wealthy donor class Governor Rauner seems to favor."
Pawar acknowledged that declaring a TIF surplus will only slap a band-aid on a systemic funding issue, which is why the resolution also directs council's independent budget office to present options including a graduated state income tax and a Chicago corporate tax.
"Let's also recognize we need a ton more revenue," Pawar said. "We all have to unite and go to Springfield."
Read the entire resolution:
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