The Mayor Of The Damned

Congratulations to the new mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. She has made history. The new mayor has proven that even if you are African American, female, and LGBTQ+, you too can become the leader of a decaying, debt riddled, corrupt, and incredibly violent metropolis.

Chicago, despite the cheer of the bars and parties of the wealthy north side, is dying. In the year 2007 the population of Chicago was 2.817 million residents. In ten years, that number has shrunk by over a hundred thousand to 2.716 Million. Additionally, the state of Illinois in which Chicago is located is also undergoing depopulation. According to the US Census Bureau Illinois has lost population for the past five years consecutively. Since Illinois’ population decline began in 2014, the state has contracted by more than 157,000 people.

People are leaving, and a report from the University of Illinois Springfield has the data why. From the report:

Because of the fact that the state of Illinois lost nearly 34,000 individuals from 2016 to 2017, the survey asked respondents about whether they have considered leaving the state.5 Overall, just over half (53%) of those surveyed report considering leaving in the past year and it is those who are younger who are most likely to say this. Survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to say they have considered leaving (67%) than those in other age cohorts. Those who are at least 65 years old, the typical age for retirement, are the least likely to say they have considered leaving (32%).

Those who say they are considering leaving were asked to provide a “primary reason” for why they have considered doing so. Many respondents (39%) mention lower taxes as the primary reason,  whereas 14% cite state government or politics, 15% cite better job opportunities and 7% say the primary reason they have considered leaving is lower crime. Additionally, some say better weather elsewhere (7%) or a family or personal reason (10%) is the primary reason they’ve considered going elsewhere.

As the mayor of one of America’s largest cities, this should concern the new mayor. It is just too bad that there is nothing she can reasonably do to reverse the difficulties that are driving people away. The reason is because she is going to raise taxes and fees, whether she likes it or not.

In the usual political rhetoric from the outgoing mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, he said in a letter, “Today,  Chicago  is  on  stronger  financial  footing,  and  our  structural  budget  deficit  has  declined  by  85  percent  since  2012.”This is true. In 2012 the budget deficit was $635 million. Currently, the projected shortfall for 2019 is $97.9 million. However, this was not because of spending cuts.

In 2012 when Emanuel took office, the budget was very different. The revenue (taxes, fees, service charges, etc.) has grown by $2.54 billion. However, the expenses have grown along with it. There are many factors driving increased expenditures, none of which are being reigned in, but one of the biggest factors is the Chicago pension fund.

Currently, the city of Chicago government pension fund is insolvent. It is only funded at 21%, and because of Illinois state constitutional requirements the fund MUST pay out. This problem is costing Chicago, and the growth of this issue can be measured. In 2012 Chicago paid $475 million into the pension fund. Seven years later that amount grew to $1.36 billion in 2019. If this trend continues, (it will), that means expenses will continue to rise. Will the tax revenue collected from the fleeing residents grow as well?

Probably not.

Also, to add salt to injury Chicago is already weighed down by regular debt. Chicago only has $9.5 billion of assets available to pay bills totaling $42 billion. Add in the hidden $655.3 million of its retiree health care debt, and the problem is going to get even worse.

Good luck, Lori Lightfoot. You have just been elected to sit on a pile of debt that is set to explode. There is nothing you can reasonably do to stop this problem, except for delaying the inevitable with tax increase. There is nothing to do now for onlookers but to sit back, relax, and enjoy the drama as the horrible blight on the American Midwest known as Chicago slowly continues to detonate.

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