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The city's budget crunch is causing a flurry of activity to get the numbers in shape; here's a rundown.
* Todd Stroger wants to raise lots of taxes: gas (100 percent to 12 cents a gallon), parking (100 percent to $40 a month), and in particular the sales tax from 0.75 percent to 2.75 percent, a 267 percent increase, making the total sales tax in the city the highest in the country. But it's cool, because then he'd just cut them again.
* In other words: Dude, I'll totally pay you back.
* He's open to independent control of the county health system. "'I don't know how fast it's going to happen," he said. 'It's like everything else, you got to get together, get people to talk about what they will agree to.'"
* In other words: I'll get around to it.
* Here's something I bet you didn't know: "For every dollar the city of Chicago collects in property taxes, about 47 cents goes toward pensions." How to lower that? Bet on a high-risk, high-return real-estate venture run by a mayoral ally and the mayor's nephew, geared in part towards the 2016 Olympics.
* Speaking of gambling, Daley not only wants a casino, he wants 70 percent of the net revenues, meaning it's probably not going to happen.
* Here's a novel way of making money off of gambling: convince people not to take the money if they win too much. The Illinois lottery calls this "voluntary self-exclusion," not "cutting your losses."
* Our city's parking meters might follow the Chicago Skyway, leased for 99 years for an up-front fee of over a billion dollars. Back in December Harold Henderson had a good post on the deal, inspired by a Mother Jones article on infrastructure privatization.
* Side note: Speaking of the Skyway, one of its purchasers, Macquarie Bank, is making CNBC's Jim Cramer freak out in a bad way. Why? "Macquarie sells shares in infrastructure funds to investors to finance the purchases, using debt to fund about 85 percent of the purchase price. The funds own the assets and Macquarie Bank manages the funds in return for hefty management fees. This creates reports of consistently high profits while the significant debt load of the assets is tucked away in the infrastructure funds' accounting ledgers." More here.