What you need to know about the referendum

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Complete coverage of the local and national primary and general election, including results, analysis and voter resources to keep Chicago voters informed.
The “Bring Chicago Home” referendum has survived a court challenge and so, for now, votes cast for or against the ballot question will be counted.
And despite all the news coverage of the proposal, some voters may still wonder exactly what it is and what it could mean.
Here are some answers.
What it would doVoters are being asked to authorize the Chicago City Council to change the real estate transfer tax.
That tax rate is currently 0.75%.
The proposed changes would lower the tax rate on property transactions valued at under $1 million, while increasing it on sales of $1 million or more.
Going down: Properties sold for under $1 million that currently account for 94% of all sales will see a decrease in the real estate transaction tax owed.
The new tax rate would be 0.60%, down from 0.75% — a 20% cut.
Going up: Sales of $1 million or over, but under $1.5 million, will pay a 2% tax rate on that portion of the sale over $1 million — more than two-and-a-half times what they pay now.
And the tax rate on sales of $1.5 million and higher will pay 3% on the portion over $1.5 million — four times the current rate.
If a simple majority of Chicago voters then approve the binding ballot referendum in March, the Council will be asked to approve another ordinance enacting the new tax structure and establishing a special fund dedicated to addressing homelessness.
Opponents won a brief victory in court last month, when Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Burke put the referendum on hold.
It was too late to remove it from the ballot, but votes weren’t going to be counted.
However, earlier this month, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the votes could be counted.
What critics sayThe court challenge to the referendum argued that it was improperly combining a request for a tax decrease with a request for a tax increase.
It’s a tactic known as “log rolling” — combining a popular item with a potentially unpopular one to ease its approval.
The Civic Federation has argued the city hasn’t explained how exactly it would spend the tax proceeds.
It also cited what it said was a lack of “oversight and accountability to ensure that funds will be effectively and efficiently utilized for the intended purpose.”
Another skeptic was Greg Goldner, a veteran political consultant who spearheaded the multi-media campaign to stop Bring Chicago Home through a political action committee, “Keep Chicago Affordable.
”With roughly 68,000 unhoused Chicagoans and an average cost-per-affordable unit of $519,000,” Goldner told the Sun-Times, “it would “take them 50 years to build 10,000 units.”
And that assumes, Goldner added, that the tax increase generates the $100 million City Hall is hoping for, something he considers unlikely.
What supporters sayThe referendum’s biggest supporter is Mayor Brandon Johnson.
A key campaign promise was creating a dedicated fund to help the estimated 68,000 Chicagoans who are homeless, and he has talked about his own brother dying “addicted and unhoused.”One of Johnson’s biggest supporters, in turn, is the Chicago Teachers Union — Johnson was once a paid organizer for the CTU, and CTU president Stacy Davis Gates says helping homeless students is “part of what we went on strike for” in 2019.
“It’s an abomination that, in this city with this much wealth, we have almost 20,000 students attending public schools who are classified as unhoused,” Davis Gates says.
If Bring Chicago Home “provides the revenue necessary to get those young people into actual homes with the stability and consistency that provides, then we are all in.
“If you vote ‘yes’ on this referendum, you are voting for 20,000 unhoused students in the Chicago Public Schools to be in a safe, warm home,” Davis Gates says.
“I like our odds.”

Chicago voters can expect comprehensive coverage of the local and national primary and general elections, along with results, analysis, and voter resources.

Votes cast in favor of or against the “Bring Chicago Home” referendum will be counted for the time being as the law challenge has been overcome. Furthermore, some voters might not fully understand the proposal despite all of the media attention it has received.

Listed below are a few responses.

What it would carry out.

The Chicago City Council is asking for permission to alter the real estate transfer tax, and voters must grant it. As of right now, that tax rate is 0.75%. Under the proposed modifications, the tax rate would go up on sales of real estate valued at $1 million or more, while it would go down on transactions valued at less than that amount.

Reducing: The amount of real estate transaction tax due will be less for properties sold for less than $1 million, which presently make up 94% of all sales. The tax rate would be reduced by 20% to 0 points60 percent from 0 points75 percent.

Increasing: Sales of $1 million or more, but less than $1.5 million, will be subject to a 2 percent tax rate on the portion of the sale that exceeds $1 million, which is more than twice as much as they currently pay.

Additionally, the tax rate on sales of $1 million or more will pay four times the current rate, or three percent, on the portion over $1 million.

The Council will be asked to approve an additional ordinance enacting the new tax structure and creating a special fund devoted to addressing homelessness if a simple majority of Chicago voters approve the binding ballot referendum in March.

When Cook County Circuit Judge Kathleen Burke postponed the referendum last month, opponents had a brief legal victory. Votes would not be counted, but it was too late to take it off the ballot.

But the Illinois Supreme Court decided earlier this month that the votes could be counted.

what detractors say.

The referendum was legally challenged on the grounds that it was unjustly combining a request for tax increases with a request for tax decreases. Combining a well-liked product with a possibly unpopular one to increase its acceptance is a strategy known as “log rolling.”.

According to the Civic Federation, the city hasn’t disclosed the precise way in which it plans to use the tax revenue. Furthermore, it mentioned a deficiency in “monitoring and responsibility to guarantee that resources will be successfully and economically applied for the designated goal.”. “.

Greg Goldner, a seasoned political consultant who led the multi-media effort to thwart Bring Chicago Home through the political action committee “Keep Chicago Affordable,” was another doubter. Goldner told the Sun-Times that it would “take them 50 years to build 10,000 units” with about 68,000 homeless people and an average cost of $519,000 per affordable unit. And that is presuming, Goldner continued, that the tax increase produces the $100 million that City Hall is hoping for—something he finds improbable.

comments made by advocates.

Brandon Johnson, the mayor, is the main proponent of the referendum. In addition to talking about his own brother dying “addicted and homeless,” he made a major campaign pledge to establish a special fund to assist the estimated 68,000 homeless Chicagoans. “.

Supporting homeless students is “part of what we went on strike for,” according to CTU president Stacy Davis Gates, who was once paid to organize on behalf of the union, which is one of Johnson’s biggest allies.

Davis Gates calls it “an abomination that we have almost 20,000 students attending public schools who are classified as unhoused in this city with this much wealth.”. We will all support Bring Chicago Home if it generates the funds required to place those young people in real homes that offer stability and consistency.

In Davis Gates’ words, “voting “yes” on this referendum means you support 20,000 Chicago Public Schools homeless students having a warm, safe place to live.”. We have good odds, I think. “.

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