How would you like to be Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago? It has the worst pension crisis of any major U.S. city, the Associated Press reported. Chicago’s pension systems have just 35 percent of the money needed to pay benefits.
Without relief, the city’s pension payment next year could be about $1 billion — an increase roughly equal to the annual cost of having 4,300 police officers on the street or raising property taxes 150 percent. Mayor Emanuel has a plan to help meet the shortfall by nearly $20 billion by reducing worker benefits and raising property taxes, but that would address only half the problem.
His plan has been met with opposition from unions and taxpayer groups. He also lacks backing from his fellow Democrats. Mayor Emanuel inherited the problem from 22 years of the Daley administration, which failed to make large enough contributions to the retirement funds of city laborers, police, firefighters and teachers.
Mayor Emanuel is less than a year away from seeking re-election and he said he is focused on doing what’s best for the city, not his own career. “The voters did not elect me to think about my political future. They elected me to think about Chicago’s future,” he said.
Those are refreshing words. Too many of our incumbent officials are more worried about their own careers than about the people and areas they represent.