Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Chicago & Cook County Stimulus Plan
"Hey Richy, you won't believe this, in DC you can print up money, pass it out to your buddies and call it a stimulus plan without getting arrested by the feds for graft and counterfeiting!"
As previously discussed, in 2007 Cook County lost more people than any county in the nation and Chicago lost a staggering 5.5% of its population. A population loss that evenly represented different socio-economic sectors would pose no financial ramifications, because losses in revenue would be offset by savings in government services. But, an exodus of educated, middle class families equals a devastating loss of tax revenue, which is a notable factor in the $420 million dollar budget deficit that Chicago faced in 2008. Educated entrepreneurial individuals disproportionately fund city and county government not only through property and sales taxes, but through the creation and support of small businesses. There is no question that it would be an enormous financial benefit to the city and county to reverse this exodus. The only question is how can this be accomplished?
As a residential rental agent I have had countless conversations with prosperous couples who were leaving Chicago for the suburbs. Each of these couples had three things in common - they loved Chicago, they were expecting a child and lamented having to leave the city because of the "simply awful public schools." Many of them had explored the idea of moving to nice northwest side neighborhoods like Portage Park that offered spacious and relatively affordable homes, but quickly backed out when they visited the schools. Others looked into private schools, but the combination of high property taxes and high tuition would have broke their bank.
Based on my these conversations, I am quite certain that many of these families (and their precious tax dollars) would remain if they had school choice. A voucher plan that allowed them to send their children to Chicago's fine parochial and secular private schools would allow them to remain. And of course it would also expand educational opportunities to Chicago's poor and working class families whose children languish in sub-par public schools.
As men of upstanding character and principles, I am certain that Daley and Stroger will resist the influence of teacher's unions and do what's educationally and economically best for Chicago and Cook County...or they'll just spend us into oblivion like Obama.