Progressive Reform Caucus to call votes on TIF Surplus Ordinance, Elected School Board Resolution

Progressive Reform Caucus to call votes on TIF Surplus Ordinance, Elected School Board Resolution

CHICAGO (November 12, 2013)–The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus on Wednesday will invoke Rule 41 to allow an open debate and vote on the floor of the City Council for two education-related ordinances that have been stalled in the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics for months.

Under consideration is an ordinance, introduced by Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) in July, which would audit all Tax Increment Finance districts and redistribute any surplus funds to the original taxing bodies from which they were collected. This would, in effect, mean about half of those dollars would go back into the Chicago Public School system.

That ordinance had 32 co-sponsors in July, far more than the 26 needed to pass the ordinance.

“At a time when our schools are experiencing the impact of major layoffs and budget cuts, there’s no reason that surplus funds should be sitting in a slush fund instead of sent back into the school system,” said Ald. Fioretti. “This legislation deserves a vote right now–our students in these classrooms can’t wait another day.”

A resolution that would put a citywide advisory referendum on the ballot on an elected CPS Board of Education will also be called to a vote Wednesday. That resolution, primarily sponsored by Progressive Caucus member Ald. John Arena (45th), was proposed in September with 12 co-sponsors. If the non-binding ballot initiative is successful, it will serve to advise legislators in Springfield to pass legislation creating an elected school board, instead of the current system of mayoral appointment.

“Chicagoans support the idea of an elected, representative school board that is accountable to the voters–not just to the Mayor,” said Ald. Arena. “With the managerial dysfunction CPS has seen in the past couple of years–from destructive school closings to harmful budget cuts–it’s no wonder that the elected school board concept is popular. That’s why we need to put this question to the voters, and get it on the ballot.”

“These two pieces of legislation will benefit thousands of kids in the CPS system,” said Ald. Nick Sposato (36th). “It is only right that the Aldermen elected to represent their communities have a fair chance to debate and vote on these ordinances.”

“It’s time we jump start the stalled democratic process in our City Council,” said Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th). “We should have a healthy debate and a vote on these pieces of legislation in a timely manner. Instead, we’re seeing perfectly reasonable, good public policy languish and die in this committee for no reason–and the kids in CPS are the ones who pay the price.”

“The City Council is meant to be a deliberative, legislative body,” said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). “But too many items get buried in the Rules Committee as a means to stifle debate and kill legislation for politically motivated reasons. The Progressive Caucus wants to see an end to that practice. The well being of our city depends on it.”

Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus members include Ald. Bob Fioretti (2), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Toni Foulkes (15), Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22), Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. Nick Sposato (36) and Ald. John Arena (45).

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