The 2014 top three state legislative priorities for the City of Evanston include:
FY 2015 STATE BUDGET – PROTECTING LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVENUE
The 2011 increase in the State personal and corporate income tax will expire in 2014 leaving a massive budget deficit for the upcoming FY2015 budget. In years past, proposals have come forward to divert long-standing local government revenues, such as Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) and the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF) as a way to fill the budget gap. Portions of the CPPRT have already been diverted. State-shared revenue is critical for municipal services. The City of Evanston believes that the return of these tax dollars to local communities for providing public services is the single-most visible and effective return on investment for taxpayers. The passage of the 2011 income tax increase reduced local governments’ distribution from the LGDF to 6% (previously at 10%) in order for the state to capture the full increase in revenues while keeping local governments “whole.” As lawmakers tackle this year’s budget deficit, we strongly urge the Governor and General Assembly to maintain the current level of state-shared revenues. The City of Evanston opposes any reduction, diversion or capping in LGDF in the FY15 budget and maintain the current level of state-shared revenues.
PUBLIC SAFETY PENSION REFORM – ADOPT MEANINGFUL REFORMS
The City of Evanston was grateful the General Assembly enacted needed public safety pension reforms in 2010. Our police and fire employees are vital and highly-valued people and we want to ensure that they will be able to rely on their pensions at retirement while reducing the burden on taxpayers. We need the Legislature to enact fair and sustainable public safety pension reforms that reduce this burden and help struggling communities turn the corner from the economic downturn. Increasing police and fire pension costs will continue to escalate and crowd out other priorities and force cities, like Evanston, to make the statutorily required pension payments while potentially having to dramatically raise taxes and reduce the number of firefighters and police officers protecting our community. The City of Evanston supports the Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition public safety pension reform proposal that will reduce the growing burden on taxpayers while securing the retirement security of our fire and police personnel.
TRANSPORTATION – TRANSIT FINANCING & GOVERNANCE
For more than 100 years, the CTA Elevated “L” Train has been a central fixture of the Evanston community, and more recently Metra railroad and Pace bus service. While the region’s advanced system of public transportation retains an excellent national and global reputation, it is aging quickly and increased investment is needed to bring existing lines into a state-of-good-repair. The RTA reports that a total of $31.1 billion is needed in capital investment. The CTA’s Purple Line is well over 100 years-old and Union Pacific/Metra’s above grade viaducts are aged.
Communities being served by transit expect accountable, efficient, and effective governance of our region’s transit systems. Local government decision makers are critical to successful transit governance. Local government leaders are closest to the businesses and commuters served by our transit system. Later this spring, the Legislature may consider the recommendations of Governor Quinn’s Transit Taskforce; any proposal should include direct input and leadership from local government leaders. The City of Evanston supports CTA’s funding requests to proceed with the Red & Purple Line Modernization (RPM Project) and to fund Metra’s Union Pacific-North track and station improvements.