Caulkins not surprised by pension problems, says it's symptom of bigger issue
Dan Caulkins barely raises an eye over news that almost a third of all the city’s property tax revenues end up in one of the 143 special taxing districts controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city alderman.
“It’s a system that’s long been ripe for abuse,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “I’m not directly accusing anyone of anything, but certainly when you have that much money in the hands of such few suspicions among many are going to rise.”
In a report released by retiring Cook County Clerk and longtime tax-increment fund (TIF) critic David Orr, it’s revealed that Emanuel and Chicago's aldermen controlled a record-setting 31 percent of the $2.1 billion collected in 2017, or $660 million.
Caulkins, running against Democrat Jennifer McMillin in the 101st District, said his questions about how the fund is set up and operated go beyond just the money.
“My first question is always are we dealing with a blighted area or are we just trying to help some developer,” he said. "Having to give these incentives is a symptom of a bigger problem, which is that Illinois is not really friendly and doesn’t give people a reason to come here. What we really should be doing is fixing our root-cause problems of worker’s compensation, high debt and our backload of unpaid bills.”
Meanwhile, Orr’s issues have centered on concerns TIFS can push an unbalanced system even more out of whack by siphoning money away from needs like public schools.
“These TIFS were designed to spur development in certain communities, but when you look around at the shape of some parts of the city you have to wonder,” Caulkins said. “I mean you have this political machine that just takes total advantage of people and everything else for just what they want.”
The 101st House District spans parts of Champaign, McLean, Dewitt, Macon and Piatt counties.