Last week’s city budget announcement by the Emanuel administration was met with an emotional response from aldermen and residents alike about proposed cuts and changes to city services.
But the strongest negative response was in reaction to cuts to the $64 million Chicago Public Library system – these cuts were originally proposed to be $8.6 million.
It’s no coincidence that American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees represents the librarians and contributes heavily to aldermanic campaigns - after intense discussions between city hall and the aldermen.
Charges agreed upon will reduce staff at some locations and result in reductions in hours of operation during school days while restoring $3.3 million.
FOX Chicago’s political editor Mike Flannery examined the questions of the continued legitimacy of libraries in this internet age .
Why should the funding of libraries be any more important than closing of mental health facilities or the number of police on the beat or the looming pension crisis?
I agree with Mayor Emanuel’s comment in last week’s budget press conference in defending his proposed cuts and changes to the budget.
“The core principle of making a fundamental change from the past won’t be compromised,” Emanuel said.
This is in my mind becomes the key point of this entire discussion.
Our elected officials must make the tough calls that need to be made and the people of Chicago need to face up to the fact that it’s no longer business as usual.
The Civic Federation of Chicago supported the new city budget because the Emanuel administration addressed the $635 million deficit by cutting $417 million of expense.
But many critical issues remain to be dealt with including first and foremost the pension funding crisis – many years of underfunding have resulted in billions of dollars of unfunded obligations.
What are we going to do? We must deal with these tough issues in the same spirit that our mayor has with his first proposed budget: a good dose of reality and intense scrutiny.
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