Chicago Mayor in Pension Reform Push

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is banking on mounting political and public pressure and his own political capital to convince state lawmakers to adopt pension reforms to shore up the city’s massive obligations and looming $700 million funding spike set for 2015. Should lawmakers fail to act, the city has no alternative plan – at least one it’s willing to make public yet – to offer to skeptical investors and analysts who have seen numerous pension proposals here fail. “I have confidence we are going to deal with it in January…..because we have to deal with it. The state has to deal with this. The city has to deal with it,” Emanuel said Thursday in a discussion of his proposed $8.3 billion all-funds 2013 budget hosted by Bloomberg in its Chicago office. Emanuel portrayed the stark pension situation as a choice. Either lawmakers can help the city preserve its structural spending accomplishments or force its hand on deep cuts and a dramatic property tax hike. The proposed 2013 budget is balanced without tax or fee hikes. Emanuel is depending on lawmakers to “do what’s right” – especially the 20% to 25% of retiring lawmakers with less at stake during a lame-duck session.

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