Is Emanuel’s $10B Bond Borrowing Plan the Right Pension Fix?

With eight months left in his final term, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has readied himself for a self-professed “sprint for the finish line.”

On that to-do list remains a staggering fiscal problem: the city’s more than $28 billion of unfunded pension liabilities.

The mayor’s floated a plan for knocking this pension debt down by borrowing $10 billion, issuing municipal bonds.

The mayor and his chief financial officer Carole Brown say the plan will save Chicagoans from future tax hikes, but critics say the city would be subject to the whims of the stock market and possibly in worse fiscal condition.

With the city’s projected pension contributions expected to more than double by 2023, what alternatives exist for paying back the retirement funds of Chicago’s police officers, firefighters and other city workers?

Joining us to share their thoughts on the mayor’s pension payback plan are 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, a frequent Emanuel critic; Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; and Amanda Kass, associate director of the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia

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