Where 14 candidates for mayor stand on taxes and money — their full responses

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Twelve mayoral candidates (joined later by a 13th candidate) face off at a forum on Jan. 10 at Steinmetz College Prep on the Northwest Side. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

Fourteen of the candidates for mayor responded to our questions about Chicago’s finances. Among our questions was this one:

Revenue: Of the following often proposed sources of new revenue for Chicago, which do you favor, and why?

  • A Chicago casino
  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana
  • A LaSalle Street tax
  • A commuter tax
  • A property tax increase
  • A municipal sales tax increase
  • A real estate transfer tax increase
  • A video gambling tax

We also ask: What other sources or new revenue do you favor or oppose?

Here are the candidates’ full and unedited responses, in alphabetical order:



  • A Chicago casino YES

To increase revenue for the City, I favor building a casino in Chicago or a neighboring suburb with an intergovernmental agreement to share revenue. I favor this source of revenue because casinos have proven to be a great source of revenue. Many Chicagoans already go to casinos in other states, even all the way to Las Vegas. In addition, it would be a good attraction for convention business. I would, however, ensure that proper programs for gambling addiction would be available.

  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana. YES

I would support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes after conducting a study of the positive and negative effects that have occurred in the states where legalization has been enacted. Also, I support measures to include entrepreneurs from minority communities in the planning and licensing of new marijuana dispensaries to increase jobs in for those  communities most neglected. Lastly, I would earmark marijuana sales tax revenue for public schools, law enforcement and drug treatment programs.

  • A LaSalle Street tax YES

A “LaSalle Street Tax” or financial transactions tax (FTT) is a very small tax on the trading (buying/selling) of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies and derivatives (futures and options) based on these assets. It is essentially a sales tax, such as when we buy/sell shoes or computers. “LaSalle Street” has come to mean the financial/trading district, the “Wall Street’ of the Midwest.

Illinois has two of the largest financial markets in the world, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Each year the value of products traded on these two exchanges totals well over $900 trillion. It has been estimated that Illinois could earn $10 to $12 billion per year from an FTT which could go a long way in helping with the public school and pension funding crises, according to the Fair Economy Illinois website.

The Fair Economy Illinois website also states that the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia, France, and Singapore have a financial transaction tax FTT. These are all large markets, the tax has been in place for years without hurting these markets, and exchanges have not moved away. In addition, 10 other European countries have been working on a FTT. I think the time has come to have some serious discussions about a FTT. I would be willing to work with the CME, the CBOE, the governor and the state legislature to come up with a tax rate that would work for everyone. Solving the school funding and pension crises must be a shared burden.

  • A commuter tax NO

Many if not most commuters work downtown because that is where the jobs are located. I see no reason to tax them for coming to and working in the City, where they support retailers, restaurants and other services.

  • A property tax increase UNDECIDEDI would consider an increase only upon review and recommendation of a Citizen Budget Review   Commission.
  • A municipal sales tax increase. NO

In fact, I favor implementation of periodic sales tax holidays. At 10.25%, Chicago has the   highest composite sales tax in the United States. The City’s portion of the sales tax rate is small   in comparison to the portions of Cook County and the State of Illinois, as noted in Table 1.

Table 1

10.25% Composite Sales-Tax Rate,

by Jurisdiction

JurisdictionSales-Tax Rate Portion
State of Illinois6.25%
Cook County2.75%

To generate consumer spending and build up the economy, the City of Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois should work to implement Sales Tax-Free holidays. In 14 states, various blocks of time are designated as sales tax-free for purchases of items such as clothing, computers, footwear, emergency preparedness supplies and other goods. Usually, shoppers do not have to pay city or state sales taxes on those items; there is a cutoff in the amount that is tax-free.

As Mayor, I would work with leaders in Cook County and the State of Illinois to implement a full Sales Tax-Free Holiday program. This would help generate sales and make Chicago more attractive to all types of businesses. This would also make Chicago attractive to consumers during that holiday period. Consumers would come to Chicago during the ‘holiday’ thereby spurring the economy while also benefitting from other taxes, such as motor fuel, hotel, etc.

  • A real estate transfer tax increase YES

The Bring Chicago Home Coalition recently launched a campaign to raise the real estate transfer tax by 1.2 percentage points on properties over $1 million.  They have estimated that this new revenue stream could raise $150 million a year for housing and services for people experiencing homelessness.I would support a real estate transfer on property sold for more than $500,000. This would bring in an estimated $300 million in revenue. I would use this revenue for build affordable housing, and to help reduce the homelessness in Chicago.

  • Video gambling YES

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

  1. Head Tax

Chicago had a head tax (also known as the Employers Expense Tax) until 2014 when it was eliminated. The tax was $4 a month up thru 2012, and $2 a month for 2012 and 2013, per employee, which was applied to businesses that employed 50 or more full-time workers or employees who performed 50% or more of their work service per calendar quarter in the City of Chicago, did not hinder economic growth or profits before the Great Recession of 2007-2009, during the Recession, or in the five years of recovery that followed until its demise in 2014. The tax represents a stable and effective source of revenue and I would consider reinstating it, with the proceeds dedicated strictly to funding the Chicago Public School system and teacher pensions, where the workforce of these very corporations are trained. This tax raised approximately $35 million in 2009 and 2010, and $15 million in 2012 and $10 million in 2013, after the reduction to $2. 

  1. City Sponsored Lottery, Naming Rights, and Advertising

I propose a City-Sponsored Lottery. I would hire a technology firm to build a secure lottery ticket sales system that would permit this lottery ticket to be purchased anywhere in the world. I would continue to permit local stores to sell lottery tickets so that they are able to make money from lottery ticket sales. But permitting world-wide electronic sales of lottery tickets would bring a large source of revenue to Chicago. This source of revenue would be easier to implement than a casino or legalized marijuana. I would ensure that there is a gambling addiction program available to help people understand the risk of gambling. The Illinois Lottery brings in about $1.3 billion a year. I would expect a Chicago Lottery would bring in comparable revenue and more since we would permit world-wide ticket purchases.

New revenue sources must be on the table therefore I would hire an advertising agent who would then analyze all of the city’s assets to determine the possibility of selling naming rights to city owned facilities and advertising on the city’s website and on other city assets.

  1. Civic crowdfunding

I favor implementation of civic crowdfunding, which is the practice of soliciting and obtaining contributions for public services from a large group of people in the online community rather than traditional resources. The funds can be used for discrete projects such as constructing band shells, upgrading dog parks, installing energy efficient LED lights, developing literacy centers, renovating historic buildings, supporting farmers markets or community gardens, helping small cash-dependent businesses installing credit card payment systems and other initiatives.

  1. Mini-bonds

The digital revolution has come to the municipal bond market. Normally, state and local governments sell municipal bonds to finance public capital projects. However, the minimum purchase requirements of most general obligation bond offerings are beyond the means of the average citizens. To engage the average citizen in their communities, progressive cities such as Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts and Denver, Colorado have successfully implemented mini-bond finance programs using digital underwriting service companies.

Mini-bonds are more affordable than traditional municipal bonds for certain potential investors. They are available in minimum denominations of $1,000, as opposed to the traditional $5,000 denomination. Also, the bonds mature in a shorter period of time. For example, the 2018 Cambridge, Massachusetts mini-bonds will mature in five years, whereas most municipal bonds mature after 10 or 20 years. The principal will be paid at maturity. There is no fee to purchase mini-bonds if they are purchased online through a recognized underwriting services company. Other brokers may charge their customary fees.

  1. Bicycle Registration Fee

In the last several years, Chicago has seen an explosion in the number of bike lanes created and opened. The lanes clearly demarcate sections of the roads for cycling downtown and in the neighborhoods. This is a wonderful initiative that encourages health and fitness, and may reduce the number of cars on the crowded streets of Chicago.

Like everything in life, the bike lanes came at a cost. It should have been the users—cyclists—who paid since they are the main beneficiaries of the service. They didn’t pay because Chicago does not have a bicycle registration tax.

The cities of Honolulu and Colorado Springs have successfully collected bicycle registration fees and used revenues for bicycle infrastructure improvements. I would create a bicycle registration fee program to pay for improvements to bike lanes.



  • A Chicago casino  — supports
  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana — supports
  • A LaSalle Street tax — opposes
  • A commuter tax — opposes
  • A property tax increase — opposes
  • A municipal sales tax increase  — opposes
  • A real estate transfer tax increase — supports
  • Video gambling — supports

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

To be clear, Chicago faces great fiscal challenges and no one should say “never” when talking about revenue. However, recent tax hikes have hit the families who can afford it the least, leading to our neighborhoods hollowing out while the city center gets richer. We need progressive solutions for revenue. I am interested in a legal tax of Internet sales such as with Amazon stores. We also need to modernize our property taxes, in which the wealthy pay lower taxes with politically connected lawyers. I will look into a rate based property tax that fairly charges properties that are growing wealthier while providing relief to working families.



  • A Chicago casino – I am open to a Chicago casino, but it should not be the first source of new revenue. It must be publicly-owned and professionally-managed. As with all options in this list, a casino will not solve all our revenue issues, and it must be part of a larger set of new revenue and reforms.
  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana – I support recreational marijuana. Other states have made this change and I will work with the governor-elect to carefully manage implementation. Most importantly, Chicago must get a fair share of the tax revenue, and we must carefully consider the social costs, equitable licensing, criminal justice reforms, and employment rules that may accompany recreational use.
  • A LaSalle Street tax – I am opposed to a LaSalle Street tax. It is not viable. This tax will raise very little revenue and push business out of the city.
  • A commuter tax – I am studying a commuter tax. I am not committing at this time, but nothing on this list will solve our financial issues by themselves. We need to look at all viable options.
  • A property tax increase – I have committed to not raising property taxes in the first year. After year one, I’ve committed to matching every dollar of increased tax with a dollar of cuts.
  • A municipal sales tax increase – City residents face a high sales tax burden, and the tax impacts those least able to pay. While I can’t rule out a sales tax increase, I would prefer to start with other options first.
  • A real estate transfer tax increase – I am open to a progressive Real Estate Transfer Tax that increases the rate for high priced properties but will not impact the majority of Chicago home buyers or sellers.
  • Video gambling – I am open to video gambling, but we must take a close look at the share of revenue that goes to the state. Unless Chicago gets a greater share of the revenue, this option is not viable.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

Chicago deserves its historical share of state income taxes. Chicago is the economic engine of the state, and today we get only $0.80 of every $1 of taxes we pay back from the state. Part of the issue is that Chicago’s percentage of Illinois income tax revenue is lower today than it was eight years ago. Especially as Springfield considers additional tax changes, and the potential for a graduated income tax, Chicago revenue must be part of the discussion.



Utilizing legalized marijuana as a revenue source should not take place without addressing how marijuana was used to pipeline individuals into the criminal justice system.  Now that it’s legal, what will be done for those populations that have been harmed? I support creating a pathway for individuals harmed by its status when it was illegal, so they can participate in the business now that it is. We also need to revisit economic barriers that preclude most people from industry participation. To the extent the marijuana tax revenue strategy is employed, proceeds would be steered toward entrepreneurial enrichment, violence prevention enrichment programming, as well as other neighborhood reinvestment initiatives for which the city is badly in need of revenue.

A significant number of Chicago residents, particularly low income workers, commute to work in the suburbs because they can’t find jobs in the city. A Chicago commuter tax would cause suburb municipalities to respond with their own commuter tax. The tax would have a disparate impact on those harmed by the city’s failure to create a vibrant economy for all its residents. Enacting a commuter tax must take into consideration that suburban commuters contribute to Chicago’s economy as well.

I fully support increasing the amount and expanding the use the real estate transfer tax to include economic development uses and instituting a collaborative holistic model that tethers homelessness mitigation, substance abuse counselling, mental health services and veteran’s services to this revenue source. We should also explore the levying a municipal sales tax on consumer services, as a majority of the city’s economy is derived from the sales of services.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

I oppose fine, fee, and forfeiture revenue generation mechanisms (tickets), on the backs of those least able to afford it, without amnesties, and progressive reforms based on ability to pay instead of a flat rate that has a regressive impact on low income populations. I am also opposed to this mechanism without an equity distribution analysis on how, where and to whom tickets are distributed.

I support the following revenue-generating mechanisms:

  1. A public bank.
  2. Expanding the small business sector.
  3. Neighborhood investment (parks, schools, employment) in a way that minimizes population loss: as population declines, the city’s sales and property tax base decreases.
  4. Minimizing police misconduct payouts and using the resources to invest in other initiatives.
  5. Minimizing expenses paid to private financial institutions and recirculate those resources to fund infrastructure, expand the small business sector, and expand access to home loans.
  6. Collective ownership in the form of worker-owned and land trust cooperatives that increase resident income.



  • A Chicago casino — Yes, Chicago should have had a casino long ago. While I am not a huge fan of gambling, it is unconscionable to watch tens of thousands of Chicagoans regularly travel to Indiana or casinos in other Illinois towns. Chicago needs to keep that revenue in the city.
  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana — Yes, I was the only Mayoral candidate four years ago to advocate for this. As with gambling, I’m not a fan of using marijuana, but this train has left the station, and Chicago needs the revenue that will come with it.
  • A LaSalle Street tax — No, it isn’t doable or realistic.
  • A commuter tax — Yes, I advocated for a small commuter tax four years ago. With a balloon pension payment of nearly $400 million due within a year of the new mayor taking office, the money will have to come from somewhere. If a candidate is against this, then they will be for a property tax increase.
  • A property tax increase — No. There will be no property tax increases in a Fioretti Administration. Too often, previous Administrations have used property owners as ATM machines. No more.
  • A municipal sales tax increase — No. Because of Cook County’s additional sales tax added by Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago and Cook County already has the highest sales tax in America and it is a hugely regressive tax hitting those at the bottom of the income scale the hardest.
  • A real estate transfer tax increase — No. As with the property tax, an increase in this tax will simply do more to drive residents out of Chicago. We should be welcoming people into Chicago, not taxing them out.
  • Video gambling — Yes. Again I want to emphasize that I am not a fan of gambling, but other cities and villages in Illinois realize vast revenue from this source, without the recognizable problems that anti-gambling activists have warned about. The time has come to lift the ban in Chicago on video gambling.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

I would be more aggressive in joining in appeals of egregious errors in property tax assessments. Under-assessments cost every other taxpayer when they have to make up the difference from the error in assessment.



I favor:

  • A Chicago casino & video gambling: A single casino is not a silver bullet, and it will have its challenges. This nor any other single approach will resolve the pension crises and the investment it will require to be an ethically equitable city. But with careful and ethical stewardship, a casino can be a stable fund that is not the corrupting influence some might expect. Similar to the lottery, with the right protections and supports in place, the funds from such a casino can help. The same is true for video gambling. Evidence within the state of Illinois shows that this can be a more powerful revenue generator than a single casino. But these should be placed carefully, and unintended consequences should be prevented from the start. They should for instance not be set in places that target our less well off residents.
  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana: Societal views change, and substantial research from Colorado, Washington, Oregon and other states suggests that the legalization of marijuana has not caused the harms expected. It has not, for instance, significantly increased new use by youth. And it is the focus of my legislative bill on the expungement of crimes associated with low-level possession of marijuana, criminalization has caused many and disproportional harms to those with less resources. That said, in order for the state to move towards legalized and taxes recreational marijuana, we have to ensure that legal changes previously criminalized our citizens occur first and convictions are expunged allowing all citizens to legally participate in this industry. I think it will be imperative that prior to opening the floodgates on this industry, we legislatively define how tax revenue will be directed.
  • A LaSalle Street tax: Each of these possibilities is not either/or responses. Too much dependence on any one as a silver bullet risks and intervention that has unintentional consequences, and we need a more participatory (less top down) democracy in this city. It is an intriguing possibility to be worked out with many different stakeholders.

I am not in favor of:

  • A commuter tax: A commuter tax is not by any means my first choice for addressing our city’s revenue issue. We should avoid steps that unduly burden our working men, women, and students coming into the city for employment, city colleges, and universities. Many of those traveling from the suburbs to Chicago may have left the city because of high taxes. A Chicago commuter tax will not help grow our population. Chicago must cultivate a reputation of fairness, not a reputation of taxing working families. Commuters spend money in our stores and our restaurants. In other words, the commuter tax punishes the working class that helps make our city alive and vibrant. This act would also divert money that typically comes from commuters, negatively impacting local businesses and sales tax revenue, which should be accessible to the city for operations. As mayor, I will put Chicago first, but I will always consider our relationship with our neighbors: in our state, outside our state, and internationally. That is why we also need to recognize that a commuter tax discourages the use of our train systems–the greenest option. The CTA and Metra should have a steady flow of passengers, and our highways and streets need fewer cars, less traffic and fewer emissions. A commuter tax would defeat these goals.

It is one possibility to look at carefully, but simply to use this short period before the election to say we will penalize non-voters who are nevertheless an integral part of this city, who keep our city vibrant by being central to the flow of our downtown activity and economy is not a decision to be made for political expediency. None of these decisions should just be clever political strategies.

  • A property tax increase: We need some careful, graduated tax increases and ones that protect and attempt to uplift our residents in poverty so we are a more equitable and empowering city. We must ensure we do not displace more of our families.
  • A municipal sales tax increase: Chicago is one of the highest sales tax municipalities in the country. It drives residents away. I would be in favor of using some of the revenue generated by new tax platforms to lower municipal sales taxes.
  • Real estate transfer tax increase: I am also against a real estate transfer tax increase. There are other ways to drive more revenue into the city by ensuring equity and efficiency in our existing tax systems.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

Small steps toward a more equitable city can have consequential outcomes on the funding the city receives (and deserves). I favor the following sources of new revenue:

  • Accurate city census: I will ensure that every resident is counted in the census, translating into millions of gained base tax revenue. Consistent with legislation I have put forth to remedy the problem, incarcerated Chicagoans who are currently counted in prisons located throughout the state for their full sentence will be counted at their last address on file.
  • Adjustment of Chicago’s state funding model: Chicago provides this state with a great deal of its funding, and a greater proportion of these funds need to return from Springfield to the City.
  • Accessing existing federal revenue: Illinois ranks 48th in Federal dollars returning to our state from Washington, DC. Some states receive up to $8 for every dollar, while Illinois does not even get $1. We must work with our Chicago Washington delegation to bring back more of those dollars.
  • Increasing, by volume, our tax population: Nationally, we lose millions of tax dollars by excluding reformed ex-offenders and others in poverty from fully participating in the job market. They are forced to have our tax dollars continuously subsidize their livelihood instead of them contributing to the tax base.
  • Closing corporate loopholes: We need to work toward more honesty and efficiency by partnering with Springfield to close corporate loopholes, to avoid tax dodging, and to ensure everyone is paying their appropriate share.
  • Graduated State Income Tax: In my role as State Rep., I supported the graduated state income tax and will continue to do so. We need real solutions that are not simply dreamt up and do not take into account budget considerations.
  • Corporate Head Tax in the State of Illinois: The City of Chicago would have to agree on the rate and the particular use of these funds.
  • Criminal Justice Reform: If we put effort to reform our criminal justice and policing systems, we will in turn save our city hundreds of millions of savings in lawsuits and waste.
  • TIF surplus declaration/TIF program changes: I would start with a moratorium on TIFs. The subsequent conversations would be public, and with experts because TIFs have too long been used outside its original intention—to serve as a transformative tool to improve our neighborhoods. We need to ensure that TIFs are used as they were intended and expand their use beyond the current mechanisms.

We have so much that can be done before the term “bankruptcy” is ever a reality. If we restructure how we operate, we can tap into resources that are already available to us and quite possibly, 1) reduce the tax burden on Chicagoans and 2) attract some of our lost residents back to the city. The repeated theme of shifting the poverty experienced by so many Chicagoans to a stronger degree of prosperity for all is central to my plan as mayor.



  • A Chicago casino — A casino must be publicly owned and all revenue should be dedicated to paying down the unfunded pension liability. This would allow Chicago to capture revenue that nearby states and locales already have access to.
  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana – The Governor Elect and the State Legislature has made it clear they will legalize recreational marijuana. Any portion of the revenue generated by the tax that is dedicated to the City of Chicago I would direct to paying down unfunded pension liabilities.
  • A LaSalle Street tax – I don’t think this is a good option considering the importance of the financial exchanges to Chicago’s economy.
  • A commuter tax – Perhaps, but further analysis must be done to determine the impact on Chicago’s business community. Alderman Burke has proposed this in the past and it has not lead to positive results.
  • A property tax increase — We cannot solve our financial problems on the backs of residential property owners. Doing so would run the serious risk of creating a cycle of relocation.
  • A municipal sales tax increase – No.
  • A real estate transfer tax increase – I would consider a real estate transfer tax increase on commercial properties that exceed a certain minimum dollar amount. Better, however, is a tax increase on rezoned property whose value is increased due to the rezoning.
  • Video gambling – I support video gambling as a means to generating additional revenue, including machines at O’Hare Airport. We must recognize neighboring casinos would oppose this effort and it would need federal rules and legislative approval.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

Using the City’s own numbers, the city’s required combined pension contributions to the City’s four retirement funds (excluding CPS) grows from $1.184 billion in 2019 to $2.130 billion in fiscal year 2023. As such, all potential new sources of revenue should be considered, and economic solutions are going to come as a result of a package of new revenue and liability management.

Chicago needs new streams of revenue that don’t unfairly burden working families. These revenues must go directly to help lower the cost of borrowing and rehabilitating Chicago’s long -term fiscal health. I favor the following proposals:

  • Revenues from a new casino and recreational marijuana legalization should be dedicated to paying down unfunded pension obligations.
  • A passenger facility charge at Chicago airports dedicated to pension obligation pay-down. This would require changing federal law. Speaking with members of Congress, I realize this is an uphill battle but is one that must be explored.
  • Consider the proposed south suburban airport and explore ways that Chicago could directly benefit from its opening.
  • The parking meter deal needs to be aggressively reviewed. Devise a strategy that involves legislation that seeks to bring parties “back to the table” that address this onerous contract.
  • In addition, we must maximize the value of our city’s other assets without relinquishing control their associated revenue, like we did with the Parking Meters and Chicago Skyway. For example, the State of New Jersey decreased its pension underfunding liability by $13 billion by transferring the lottery system to its pension funds. Inventory of city-owned assets and consideration of a non-permanent transfer of those assets into the pension funds or entities established for the benefit of the pension funds.
  • Acquire by Eminent Domain the 440 acre U.S. Steel lakefront site and use federal funds to remediate the site. Collaborate with the Great Lakes Initiative or an entity comprised of the Great Lake states to greatly expand a “cruise the Great Lakes” recreational industry. A development of this nature is a long-term proportion but so are the pension obligations. It is time to start thinking out of the box.
  • Transferring a portion of the Obama Library complex real estate to the National Park Service should be explored. Additionally, utilization of Park Service security officers should be explored.
  • At this point, I am not inclined to favor issuance of a pension bond. With the near term market volatility, I am not willing to gamble taxpayer money. I would consider a pension bond if the federal government would avail us of their Full Faith and Credit.



I support having a Chicago casino, as long as it is city owned and operated. This will allow for maximum revenues for Chicago as well as employ many of our residents. I also support video gambling in our city. However, I do not support any of the listed taxes (above), as we cannot tax our way out of the problems our city faces. The more we tax our citizens, the harder it will be for our families to live in the city. Chicago has become very expensive for many of our citizens, resulting in generations of Chicago families leaving our city and state. We need to stop taking the money out of our tax payers pockets, because of the careless and incompetent decisions made by our elected officials. Marijuana will be legalized by the State of Illinois, at which Chicago will then tax it. My concern will be making sure that this substance stays out of the hands of our children and those most vulnerable throughout our city.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

The City of Chicago Budget is $10.67 billion. I do not think our problem is solely revenues, as we also have a spending problem, and must reallocate our funds equitably and responsibly.



  • A Chicago casino

A: For more than two decades Chicagoans have routinely traveled to neighboring cities like Rosemont, Elgin, Joliet, Gary and Hammond to gamble. If people in Chicago want to gamble, then they should be able to gamble in Chicago at a city-owned, land-based casino. Casino gambling has now been a reality in Illinois for decades. I know from my work as a lawyer that the Illinois Gaming Board has created a robust regulatory system to combat many of the problems that could arise from casino gambling.

In thinking about a Chicago casino, it is imperative that the construction of a new casino be used as an economic development tool to benefit people and neighborhoods that have been neglected by city government for far too long, including minority and women owned businesses and individuals on the west and south sides. As mayor, I will ensure these groups are involved at every stage of the process, from the design, planning and construction of the casino to its daily operations. Moreover, I will insist that the casino work with Chicago businesses to create a localized supply-chain for goods and services.

  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana

A: I support legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana. We need to make sure that in drafting the authorizing legislation, we are mindful of the experiences of other states where legalization has occurred, like Colorado and Oregon. Furthermore, I support efforts to make sure that minority communities that have been ravaged by the War on Drugs have an opportunity to benefit from legalization in terms of receiving licenses, placement of grow operations and jobs. We also must be diligent and continue the hard work of keeping these drugs out of the hands of our kids.

  • A LaSalle Street tax

A: Obviously, given the current pension crisis and the structural municipal deficit, additional revenue is going to be necessary in the short term, and intermediate terms. I am open to looking at a range of progressive revenue streams. My core principals in evaluating revenue sources are (1) what are the benefits and risks; (2) who will bear the burden of the revenue source – I want to lessen the burden for low-income and middle class individuals and families who have been hardest hit; and (3) any short term gain is worth the long term implications. The so-called “LaSalle Street” tax gets regular mention as a possible source of revenue. While I agree that higher income individuals like me and businesses must pay their fair share, I also want to be certain that in evaluating revenue options, we do not drive businesses from Chicago or create a disincentive for businesses to invest in our city.

  • A commuter tax

A: I oppose Bill Daley’s commuter tax proposal. As proposed, the tax could adversely impact the city’s ability to attract new businesses to Chicago. While we must consider making sure that people who live outside the city but who work here pay their fair share, imposing an effective income tax on these workers is not the right way to go. In addition, I am concerned about the impact a commuter tax might have on Chicagoans who work outside the city limits, as surrounding cities could respond in-kind by imposing a commuter tax on non-residents. This would place an unnecessary financial burden on many Chicagoans.

  • A property tax increase

A: Before city leaders can consider raising property taxes, they first must work with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi to fix the broken property tax system. As has been widely reported, Joe Berrios, who was endorsed and continues to be embraced by Toni Preckwinkle, oversaw an assessment system that failed to capture increases in the value of commercial and industrial properties. Homeowners, particularly those who are low and middle income, continue to be forced to pay higher property taxes as a result of Berrios’s rigged system. Rahm Emanuel was silent on this grievous wrong, and Toni Preckwinkle consistently excused Berrios and blamed others. I have consistently supported Kaegi’s reform efforts and will continue to press for change as mayor. City leaders cannot ask property owners to pay more until these inequities are fixed.

  • A municipal sales tax increase

A: I think we have to look at progressive forms of revenue in the first instance before there is a substantive discussion regarding an increase in the municipal sales tax. If I were to explore this option, then I would simultaneously look into other taxes or fees that could be reduced in an effort to offset at least some part of an increase in the municipal sales tax.

  • A real estate transfer tax increase

A: As set forth in my housing policy, which is available here, I have proposed a graduated real estate transfer tax that would generate between $80 and $150 million annually for building, preserving and rehabilitating housing that is affordable, homelessness prevention efforts and building and operating new city mental health clinics. Under the proposed progressive rate structure, approximately 95% of property transactions would receive a tax cut on the sale of properties. Due to the graduated rate structure, a transaction involving a $250,000 property would result in a $1,000 savings and a $500,000 transaction would result in a $2,000 savings, while a transaction involving a $1 million property would result in approximately the same payment as under the current structure.

  • Video gambling

A: I am not opposed to video gambling as long as it is properly regulated and regulators are diligent about keeping bad actors from having any involvement with the industry.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

A: I support a progressive state income tax.



  • We definitely need new revenue. But first, we must stop the political spending spree. For example, I oppose spending $95 million on a new police training facility because that is a political response to a serious public safety challenge (not to mention that $95 million is really $190 million because nothing gets done on budget or on time in Chicago); and TIF spending is the most egregious example of political spending, where much of it is actually illegal. Done correctly and legally, TIF funds could provide a large infusion of cash to pay for schools, infrastructure improvements and spurring economic opportunity in neighborhoods where it’s needed most.

For new revenue I support a Chicago casino, legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana and video gambling because these revenues could generate sustainable, reliable revenue against which we could more safely issue government bonds for addressing our pension crisis and for funding large-scale capital improvements. Also, I believe these revenue options have the best chance for approval by city council. Lastly, these options add little burden on existing and prospective Chicago businesses. In fact, I am certain each of these revenue ideas would actually spur economic growth in Chicago, which is the real solution to our revenue woes.



  • A Chicago casino

If done responsibly, a casino can be a critical source of revenue with a portion earmarked to address pension payments. I would make this a priority of my Springfield agenda.

  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana

Legalizing marijuana in a responsible way, with the input of law enforcement and community stakeholders, can be a critical revenue stream that can help address funding for social services and pensions. I am in favor.

  • A LaSalle Street tax

In today’s digital economy, any meaningful tax on financial transactions will simply lead all trading operations — and the jobs and tax base that come with them — to leave the city. This would be a net loss for the city rather than a new stream of revenue. I am opposed.

  • A commuter tax

I am opposed to a commuter tax. It’s an idea that could seem appealing in theory, but it has proven to be legally dubious and rife with unintended consequences, specifically in major cities like Philadelphia, Cleveland and Detroit. Those major cities have all experienced population decline and economic stagnation since levying their commuter tax.

  • A property tax increase

I will look to meet our city’s obligations and invest in our neighborhoods without balancing our city’s budget on the backs of the middle class. Raising property taxes should always be a last resort. I will continue to fight for Springfield to take on greater responsibility for school funding, so that local taxing bodies don’t have to keep going to the same well, property taxes, to fund our schools.

  • A municipal sales tax increase

I am opposed to raising the regressive sales tax because it hits low-income families the hardest.

  • A real estate transfer tax increase

The real estate transfer tax has been proposed to cover nearly every program imaginable, from pension stabilization to addressing homelessness. Before we turn to the tax, we must fully implement reforms at the State and County level that would allow for a targeted implementation that only affects downtown properties that can afford a minimal increase. I am opposed to a general increase on middle class homes.

  • Video gambling

I would consider video gambling if implemented in a way that does not target our most disenfranchised neighborhoods and as part of a larger discussion on a city casino. I am in favor of adding video gambling/slots at O’Hare and possibly Midway airports, although those revenues would have to remain in the airport system.

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

I also support passage of a progressive state income tax at the state level, which will generate significant revenue to help the city address its revenue challenges.



  • A Chicago casino

While I, along with many in our community, have had concerns about the impact of government-sponsored casinos, particularly on low-income residents, the reality is that we already face this challenge via gambling in nearby suburbs and right across the border in Indiana. That’s why I support a Chicago casino as a potential generator for revenue and jobs. My support would also be contingent on the guarantee that a casino would incorporate a substantial share of women and minorities as both contractors and employees.

  • Legalized and taxed recreational marijuana

Yes, I have long been a supporter of legalizing recreational marijuana and decriminalizing harder substances. A majority of the arrests for low level drug offenses impact communities of color due to over policing, although studies have shown there is equal use among all demographics. When we legalize marijuana, we need to make sure the pricing is reasonable and accessible for people of all incomes so we don’t have a competing underground market. We also need to make sure the people who have been previously charged and convicted with these offenses have their records cleared. If and when recreational marijuana becomes legalized and taxed, we must ensure there are opportunities available for minority owned businesses to compete in this new market.

  • A LaSalle Street tax
  • A commuter tax-
  • A property tax increase
  • A municipal sales tax increase
  • A real estate transfer tax increase

I support a real estate transfer tax increase on properties sold for over $1 million. This would have the effect of generating $150 million annually to be dedicated to the city’s homeless population. In one year, the homeless population would be reduced by 10,000 through a combination of vouchers, conversions and new buildings.

  • Video gambling

What other sources of new revenue do you favor or oppose?

I will use the power and influence of the office of Mayor to ensure Illinois passes a constitutional amendment to permit a graduated income tax rate structure. Illinois is one of the most regressive tax states in the country. We need revenue to solve our problems and to ensure the state can live up to its promise to properly fund education. That revenue must be raised fairly by asking more from those who have more. The revenue from this initiative must be used to properly fund education and reign in the growing pension debt obligations.



I have presented a very detailed comprehensive plan to enable the city to meet its pension funding obligations, structurally balance the budget, reprioritize the budget to ensure investment in the community and cap annual property tax increases on individual homeowners, landlords and businesses to the rate of inflation or 5% whichever is less. The plan also eliminates the Speed and Red-Light cameras while capping fines to no more than the cost of the fees.

The plan includes supporting a legislative agenda that protects the statutory local government share of any increase in the State Income Tax, restores the illegal diversion of Corporate Personal Property Tax revenues and phases in over ten years full State Funding Equity for Chicago teachers. This agenda alone will cover more than half the funding needed to complete the statutory pension funding ramp up. I have also identified almost a dozen specific areas where I believe substantial savings can be secured and have articulated what I would do in each area. On the revenue side of my financial plan I support a Casino, video gaming and sports betting and the legalization and taxation marijuana. I oppose the other taxes listed and will cap property taxes and fees as already stated. https://vallasforallchicago.com/issues/#abalancedbudget



In addition to saving we anticipate generating as discussed in the section on ‘Mismanagement, below is a discussion of the major initiative I have in mind to generate new revenue for the City: 


There is not much left to debate about a Citizen owned casino in Chicago, Illinois has already passed the base legislation and casino gambling are well established in the state. The question of the issuance of a license to the City of Chicago is purely a political one and will be accomplished. Below is the formula for taxation as established by the state legislature. For the cash needy State and City to continue to postpone this necessary recapture of tax revenue currently being ceded to Indiana and Wisconsin is unconcenable and due to stop now.

My proposal is to locate a Citizen owned / professionally contract operated, casino with no hotel nor full service restaurant, (‘bar snacks only’), on land in the lakefront district. The Sites could include Navy Pier, McCormick Place or the vacant Michael Reese Campus. A commission, including community residents, would be established during the first months of my administration to publicly develop the specific plans.

Our estimation is that this project could add between $600 million up to $1 billion annually to City Revenue (less than twice the casino income of Hammond In.)


For the first time (in the 44 years of polling), the majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. As Gallup notes, from a low of 12% in favor in 1969, the latest poll shows a clear majority (58%) now believe the drug should be made legal.

One reason is the so called ‘racial disparity gap’ in marijuana enforcement.

About 70 percent of all marijuana possession arrests last year were for ten grams or less. In the first seven months of 2016, before the statewide decriminalization bill took effect, more than 3,300 people were charged for possessing small amounts of weed. While this figure represents a 74 percent decrease from the approximately 12,800 people who were apprehended in 2014 and an 85 percent decrease from the more than 22,000 people arrested in 2010 (before Chicago passed the decriminalization ordinance), the racial disparity among those arrested for pot hasn’t budged in the last seven years.

Even with the overall drop in arrests, people of color continue to be disproportionately affected. Studies clearly show whites and blacks consume marijuana at similar rates, but African-Americans are far more likely to be arrested and charged for low-level pot possession than whites. The American Civil Liberties Union published a report in 2013 that analyzed marijuana possession arrest data nationwide and found that marijuana use among blacks and whites was roughly equal, with more whites age 18 to 25 saying they’d used marijuana in the last 12 months. But African-Americans, the report concluded, were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for pot possession. In Cook County specifically, the report found that in 2010 African-Americans were about seven times more likely to get arrested for weed possession than whites.

Last year, 78 percent of those arrested for small amounts of weed were black, 17 percent were Hispanic, and only 4 percent were white—virtually the same percentages identified in Reader investigations from 2014 and 2011.

But just 59 people were arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession between when the law took effect and the end of 2016—a dramatic drop that could signal the end of possession arrests in Chicago. Even within this population, however, about 80 percent were black.

Widespread acceptance in a short amount of time isn’t a phenomenon unique to gay marriage. Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event—often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity—triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.

recreational marijuana stores in Colorado received $575.8 million in 2015 revenue based on tax data from the Colorado Department of Revenue. That’s an 84% comp to 2014, showing robust growth in the industry. Turn to other states in which retail marijuana is legal and you’ll see they have posted impressive growth figures as well, even with less time to mature.

Oregon, the cannabis industry is already becoming as visible as major fast food corporations, with more locations in the state than both Starbucks and McDonald’s. They have 248 and 205 locations, respectively.

states where cannabis is legal continue to push for changes that are friendlier to outside investment.

Oregon medical dispensaries have been subject to a 25% sales tax, which will drop to 17% at the state level when retail stores open in the fall. These rates are lower than Washington’s sales tax of 37%, but some of our Washington contacts said they are taking business from Oregon because they are allowed to sell edibles and concentrates. Oregon dispensaries can only sell flower to those without a medical card, but hope they will be allowed to sell edibles and extracts when retail stores open in the second half of this year. They can also only sell up to 7 grams, whereas customers can buy up to an ounce in Washington.

awarding of licenses to retailers and lower wholesale prices after the tax structure was changed from 25% levied on producers, processors, and retailers to 37% on only retailers. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) raised the former retail store cap of 334 to 556 to help in the process of merging the medical and recreational markets on July 1st.

Bloombergreports that the Atlanta-based company has been monitoring the cannabis industry for potential partnerships.

In particular, the company is said to be looking at drinks infused with CBD – the non-psychoactive cannabis compound that treats everything from pain and inflammation to epilepsy, but doesn’t get you stoned as there is there is a growing acceptance of CBD-based treatments, as legitimate treatments for everything from pain management to epilepsy have garnered broad support, as well as healthy investments in the pharma space.

Furthermore, there are signs that legalizing marijuana will reduce crime:Marijuana has accounted for nearly half of all total drug arrests in the US for the past 20 years, according to the FBI’s crime statistics. And according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), a large portion of the US illegal drug market is controlled directly by Mexican cartels. The DOJ’s National Drug Intelligence Center, which has since been shut down, found in 2011 that the top cartels controlled the majority of drug trade in marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine in over 1,000 US cities.

Now, those cartels and their farmers complain that marijuana legalization is hurting their business. And some reports could suggest that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is more interested in helping to protect the Mexican cartels’ hold on the pot trade than in letting it dissipate. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that pot farmers in the Sinaloa region have stopped planting due to a massive drop in wholesale prices, from $100 per kilo down to only $25. One farmer is quoted as saying: “It’s not worth it anymore. I wish the Americans would stop with this legalization.”

Lastly, legalization, as was demonstrated after alcohol prohibition, does not increase consumption.

the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment demonstrates — for the second year in a row — that youth in Colorado do not use cannabis any more than teens in other parts of the country. In fact, by at least one measure, they use less.

The Healthy Kids Colorado survey is a “voluntary survey that collects anonymous, self-reported health information from middle and high school students across Colorado,” according to the initiative’s website. Over 17,000 middle- and high-schoolers throughout the state were randomly selected to participate. The survey is conducted every other year, and the 2015 version, released this week, confirmed the 2013 findings that marijuana use among teens in Colorado had fallen flat.

Chicago needs to be progressive and lead in this important area effecting our police, jails and tax base I will lead a full effort through the City Counsel and State Legislature to legalize recreational marijuana.

Re-Open Meigs Field Airport

Meigs was the second largest business district airport in North America. Meigs Field airport was closed when Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley ordered the runway destroyed with bulldozers without the thirty-day notice required by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

during the early 1970s there were up to eight round trip nonstop flights a day between Meigs and the Illinois state capital in Springfield.[5] Other commuter air carriers serving Meigs Field in 1975 included Midwest Commuter Airways with nonstop flights to Indianapolis and South Bend, and Skystream Airlines with nonstops to Detroit City Airport with both small airlines operaring there.

Scheduled passenger helicopter airline service was also available between Meigs Field and Chicago O’Hare Airport and Chicago Midway Airport at different times over the years. From the late 1950s to late 1960s, Chicago Helicopter Airways operated 12-seat Sikorsky S-58C helicopters with frequent flights to both O’Hare and Midway.[7]

Numerous VIPs used the airport in order to maintain security and also to avoid inconveniencing the Chicago traveling public, including President John F. Kennedy. In a common pattern, Air Force One would land at a larger area airport, and the President would then take the Marine One helicopter to Meigs Field to avoid the complications of a Secret Service escort via Chicago’s expressways.

“The issue is Daley’s increasingly authoritarian style that brooks no disagreements, legal challenges, negotiations, compromise or any of that messy give-and-take normally associated with democratic government,” the Chicago Tribune editorialized when the airport was suddenly closed. “The signature act of Richard Daley’s 22 years in office was the midnight bulldozing of Meigs Field,” according to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn.[20] “He ruined Meigs because he wanted to, because he could,” columnist John Kass wrote of Daley in the Chicago Tribune.

Today the space is mostly unused as a concert venue and hard to reach park yielding only $55 thousand dollars to city operations. When it was opened as an airport, it contributed between $300 million and $500 million income per year.

Now, when there is a race to produce new types of flying transportation called ‘V-TOL’s” that operate like a large drone or small helicopter, already in use in some places and the explosion of small jet aircraft travel, including ‘shared ride’ services, this airport could be exactly the facility that a growing modern city needs. We have seen the proliferation of tourist helicopter services in the past few years that have needed to be based as far away from the lakefront tourist district as Roosevelt road and Ashland. Clearly, the lakefront airport would increase this usage by both tourists and business people.

I propose the restoration of this important third airport with planned enhancements for 21st century personal air travel and much needed revenue source.

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