Another agency in Chicago is looking to deadlocked Springfield for help balancing its books, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that’s OK, because state lawmakers will eventually come through on their obligations.
Chicago Transit Authority officials say their 2016 budget will be balanced, but only if they get the normal level of funding from the state.
“I don’t think I’m usually seen as an optimist or keep hope alive is my operating theory,” Emanuel told reporters at the Addison CTA Blue Line stop. “Look, they have to and will in the end of the day resolve their problem. And their breakdown. They’ll have to pass their budget and they’ll have to meet their responsibilities.”
Emanuel joined CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. Thursday to announce the details of the agency’s budget proposal. Carter said the CTA would not increases fares or cut services to balance their $1.475 billion budget, but it will need state funding to fill about 20 percent of the spending plan as it has in years past.
Carter said he’s been in “productive conversations” with lawmakers in Springfield. But as Illinoisans know well, the state is in its fourth month without a budget.
“I can’t speak for the governor or for anyone else in terms of where they’re going to go or what they’re going to do,” Carter said. “What I can say is I’m managing my budget efficiently.”
The budget calls for eliminating 100 positions in what officials call “non-customer facing areas.” It also projects continued growth in ridership.
The CTA isn’t the only Chicago agency counting on the state. The Chicago Board of Education unanimously approved a multibillion dollar budget that relies on almost $500 million from Springfield, even though the Illinois General Assembly hasn’t agreed to send the Chicago Public School district any additional money.
Meanwhile at City Hall, aldermen are hemming and hawing over whether to support a $543 million property tax increase that relies on Governor Bruce Rauner signing a bill that would lessen state-mandated police and fire pension payments. And an Emanuel supported bill that would double the current homeowners’ exemption and lessen the blow on homeowners who he said can least afford the additional property tax pain has only passed through one committee.
Aldermen have said that their “trust issues” with Springfield could affect whether or not they support the mayor’s budget.
Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.