Mayoral Candidates on Jobs

February 17, 2011 | Chicago, IL

By Rhea Yap

This is Erie House's third installment on issues that matter to our community and work.

An issue that impacts us all is jobs growth. While many factors lead businesses to settle in one city versus another, taxing and regulatory policies certainly weigh heavy in the equation. Here is where the candidates stand:


With unemployment stubbornly high and the old blue-collar industries that gave rise to Chicago's "big shoulders" image vanishing, how would you create jobs in Chicago?

Gery Chico: The sectors we should cultivate are: Clean Energy, Information Technology, Health Services and Trade & Risk Management. I propose the creation of a new position: Deputy Mayor of Business Development and Job Creation, as well as a Jobs Cabinet. If I were mayor, I would immediately eliminate the “head tax” which imposes a levy of dollars per employee per month with companies of 50 or more employees on payroll - this tax raises approximately $5 million annually for the city.

Miguel del Valle: 80% of new jobs are expected to come from existing industries and businesses; so I argue that Chicago must build on the most promising economic sectors: green industries, high-tech manufacturing and allied health industries, all of which offer jobs at living wages. Emphasizing jobs that provide living wages and benefits, I promote the establishment of a reasonable wage floor, minimally for companies that receive city subsidies. I would leave the “head tax”, which imposes a levy of dollars per employee per month with companies of 50 or more employees on payroll, in place. This tax raises approximately $5 million annually for the city.

Rahm Emanuel: I want to cut the city portion of the sales tax from 1.25 percent to 1 percent; and I plan to make up the lost revenue by applying the sales tax to some luxury services such as tanning parlors. Because the state of Illinois does not generally tax services, this change to have the sales tax cover luxury services would require approval from the General Assembly. I propose a four year phase out of the “head tax” which imposes a levy of dollars per employee per month with companies of 50 or more employees on payroll;

Carol Moseley Braun: I advocate a new ordinance to require financial institutions with city business to charge no higher than market rates when they lend to city residents and entrepreneurs. My campaign would also create a $2 billion fund through contributions from public and private pension funds to lure what she calls "high-growth" firms.

Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins: I have identified green jobs and technology jobs as areas for high growth. To encourage new businesses, I would waive the first two years of fees for new businesses to ensure they are successful. She believes the city should invest in improving our transportation infrastructure (i.e. short rail), which will lead to job growth. She would leave the “head tax”, which imposes a levy of dollars per employee per month with companies of 50 or more employees on payroll, in place. This tax raises approximately $5 million annually for the city.

William “Doc” Walls, III: I point to nanotechnology (production of high-tech products on an atomic scale) as an area of opportunity to replace lost manufacturing jobs. I propose a four year phase out of the “head tax” which imposes a levy of dollars per employee per month with companies of 50 or more employees on payroll.

 

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