The president of Illinois’ largest taxpayer organization today urged members of the Illinois General Assembly to vote “NO” on House Bill 656, the “CTA bailout” bill, which will be considered later this week.
“The CTA is a financial black hole that will not be made viable even with limited concessions by its overpaid union employees,” said Jim Tobin, President of National Taxpayers United of Illinois (NTUI). “The CTA bureaucracy is incompetent and needs to be replaced. Many buses carry less than half-a-dozen riders, and the CTA Douglas line unnecessarily duplicates the service of the Congress line in the Eisenhower Expressway. The so-called ‘doomsday’ cuts are necessary, and are only the beginning of what is needed to restore viability. It will take more than cutting 81 bus routes and 2,400 employees before the CTA can survive.”
“The proposed $530 million tax hikes will harm the Illinois economy and low-income users,” said Tobin. “The window-dressing proposal to offer free rides to senior citizens makes no economic sense, and is strictly a media ploy. People over 65 don’t need free rides; only 17 percent are in the poverty range. In contrast, single female families have a poverty rate of 34 percent. The handicapped, students, and those on food stamps are needier-but then; why not offer free rides to everyone? Where do you draw the line?”
“The free rides for seniors will require a fare increase that truly will hurt the poor under 65, to cover the anticipated shortfall of more than $30 million.”
“The proposed sales tax increase for the collar counties would increase the CTA/RTA sales tax in Chicago’s collar counties by 200%, the CTA/RTA sales tax of Cook County by 25%.  The tax hikes are grossly unfair to the residents of the collar counties, who use the CTA very little compared with the residents of Cook County.”
“Chicago’s real estate transfer tax would increase by 40% as well.  The huge hike in Chicago’s real estate transfer tax, which would raise it to $10.50 per $1,000, would give Chicago the highest real estate transfer tax of any large city.  This increase will place a huge burden on not only home buyers, but also home sellers and small business owners in a depressed real-estate market.”
Chicago residents justifiably will be riled over the unconscionable increase in the real estate transfer tax. There very likely will be a political backlash against members of the General Assembly who support HB 656, and these would-be tax raisers, like St. Sen. Rickey R. Hendon (D-5, Chicago), should be thrown from office on February 5th. Members of the Ill. General assembly should resist being duped by greedy union employees and Chicago politicians who want to throw more taxpayer dollars at the moribund CTA. They should vote ‘NO’ on HB 656 and force the CTA to reform.”
Click here for a pdf version of the news release.