It is City Budget time. And this year the City government really must make some hard choices. Both expense cuts and revenues increases are required. It is a double whammy. Mayor Emanuel included both, so that is a good start.
Now come the moral choices… what will we sacrifice? One topic for non-profits is free water. Non-profits like Chicago Commons have been getting free water for years. In good times, our city could afford this nice benefit. However, times are tough and we may need to pay our own way now. Does Commons like it? Of course not. Are we going to advocate against it? No. Sacrifices must be made.
Are we against anything in the Mayor’s budget? Yes. Two budget cuts are really bad ideas:
1. Cutting library hours. The library is a singularly important place in our neighborhoods. One of the few safe places where true learning can happen. It allows residents to pursue whatever it is they are after. We need more library hours, not less! The new West Humboldt library is seeing over 800 people per day and growing.
2. Cutting free tax services. There is a tiny amount of money in budget for free tax preparation services. It is cut by over half. However, for low-income families this is an absolute godsend. Most low-income working families with kids get a big tax refund thanks to Earned Income Tax Credit. Cutting this benefit means many families will not even do their taxes or could be gouged by a private preparer. This city-funded service injects way more money into the pockets of low-income families than it costs us.