Chicago Mayor Richard Daley unleashed a barrage of insults against the financial acumen of unnamed state legislators at a press conference on the North Side yesterday. As noted by the Chicago News Cooperative's Dan Mihalopoulos, the mayor didn't specifically identify State Rep. John Fritchey, the Chicago Democrat who's now running for a seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners. But Daley's remarks came two days after Fritchey announced that he'd introduce legislation in Springfield calling for non-appropriated funds stationed in the city's TIF districts to be returned to local taxing bodies at the end of each fiscal year. If passed, the bill would send roughly $535 million back to the Chicago Public Schools, which like many government bodies is struggling with deep budget deficits. But in what the News Cooperative characterized as "caustic" remarks, Daley told reporters this in discussing the TIF program and state legislators:
Everybody wants to raid something. I’m not going to listen to state government for financial advice. I’ll tell you one thing: The city of Chicago should not listen to the federal or state government for financial advice. We would be bankrupt today. We [should] not listen to them, your state senators or representatives. No way. Look what they’ve done with the state budget and now they’re telling us what to do with the city budget. No way.
While the top mayoral aides have not specifically ruled out declaring a TIF surplus and sending those dollars back to various city and county-based taxing bodies, Daley's comments yesterday are in line with his recent full-throated defense of how his administration uses and controls TIF dollars, including grants to profitable downtown corporations. With three public hearings about the Daley Administration's 2011 budget scheduled to start next month and a Fritchey aide recently telling Progress Illinois the representative will introduce the TIF surplus legislation within a few days, the issue appears to be coming to a head. But with the TIF program, Daley seems content with the status quo.
This post has been updated to correct how much would be sent back to CPS in TIF funds if Fritchey's bill was signed into law.