The outlines of how Mayor Lori Lightfoot would like Springfield to help her balance her new city budget are coming into focus, and it looks like she’ll be making a big, big ask.
According to knowledgeable sources in Chicago and Springfield, after weeks of preliminary maneuvering the mayor is pitching nothing less than a state takeover of the city’s cash-short pension funds, which under current law will require upward of $1 billion in new city tax hikes over the next three years to reach a path to full actuarial funding. Her proposal would consolidate city pension money with smaller downstate and suburban pension funds in a new statewide system. In some cases, those non-Chicago funds are even worse off than the city’s.
Insiders say Chicago might be willing to forgo some revenue it now gets from the state in exchange for relinquishing responsibility for the funds, which now are about $28 billion short of the assets they’ll eventually need to pay promised benefits. To pay the cost, Ms. Lightfoot reportedly supports state legislation to tax retirement income of better-off seniors — taxing income above $100,000 a year would net roughly $1 billion annually, according to the Civic Federation — or extending the sales tax to cover high-end services such as accounting and legal advice.