Appellate decision: Votes on Bring Chicago Home referendum will count

Appellate decision: Votes on Bring Chicago Home referendum will count

Votes on Chicago’s March 19 referendum will count, according to an Illinois Appellate Court ruling. Now voters must weigh the merits of the real estate transfer tax hike.

An Illinois appellate court ruled that votes on Chicago’s March 19 referendum will count, overturning a lower court’s decision.

The court ruled a previous decision by Cook County Judge Katheen Burke was invalid because she didn’t have jurisdiction. Burke said the question was unconstitutional and invalid, but appellate justices said she was wrong to rule on a referendum that was a step in the legislative process.

The ruling didn’t weigh in on the merits of the referendum, only the validity of its place on the ballot.

“Nothing in this decision is intended to suggest that we have any opinion one way or the other on the merits of the referendum at issue. That is a question wisely entrusted not to judges but to the people of the city of Chicago,” the justices wrote.

Voters have until March 19 to decide whether the hike in the real estate transfer tax, intended to raise $100 million, will actually help the homeless. Nothing in the referendum guarantees the money will go to those efforts and Johnson has failed to outline how he will use the money.

“While the ballot initiative claims it would help the homeless, the fact is that the City of Chicago lays out no plan to do so – and already has tens of millions set aside for programs to address homelessness that it isn’t using,” said Mailee Smith, senior director of labor policy and staff attorney at Illinois Policy. “Ultimately, this ballot initiative represents bad policy and a danger to Chicago’s already fraught economy.”

Most of the taxes will hit commercial properties, which sell 9 times more often than residences above the $1 million threshold targeted by the tax hike. There are 5,142 commercial properties in the city which would be vulnerable to the hike if sold, thwarting new business starts that could offer jobs to truly get homeless Chicagoans off the streets.

Early voting in Chicago is underway for the March 19 primary. Click here to check your voter registration information.

Paid for by Vote No on Chicago Real Estate Tax

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