Bring Chicago Home referendum being rejected by voters

Bring Chicago Home referendum being rejected by voters

Chicago voters were giving a thumbs down on the referendum to raise the real estate transfer tax on million-dollar properties known as “Bring Chicago Home,” with 54% voting “no” with 96% of the precincts reporting.

Chicago voters were rejecting the referendum dubbed “Bring Chicago Home,” with 54% voting “no” to 46% “yes” with 98% of precincts reporting.

While 98% of precincts had reported, The Associated Press was estimating only 82% of the vote had been counted with another two weeks during which mail-in ballots could be received. Still, the Bring Chicago Home coalition was conceding the election.

The referendum would have given Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and the city council voter approval to raise the real estate transfer tax on properties worth more than $1 million. Johnson predicted it would give him $100 million a year in revenue.

What was the plan?

Chicago charges 0.75% on the sale of all property. The plan would have:

  • Loweredthe tax to 0.60% for properties worth less than $1 million, a 20% decrease.
  • Raised it to 2% for properties worth $1 million-$1.5 million, a 166% increase.
  • Raised it to 3% if worth more than $1.5 million, a 300% increase.

It was one of Johnson’s cornerstone campaign promises on a list of $800 million in new taxes, but he hasn’t delivered any of the nine proposals on his list. In January, 57% of Chicago voters disapproved of his job performance and 63% thought the city was headed in the wrong direction.

Johnson never set out a specific plan, including how the city would spend new revenue.

The tax was expected to fall primarily on commercial properties, which sell nine-times more often in that price range than residential properties. It could have hit over 5,100 commercial properties when sold.

Los Angeles passed a similar tax, which wrecked the real estate market and is currently facing repeal in the November election.

Johnson never outlined how the money would be spent to impact homelessness. He initially projected the tax hike could generate $100 million a year. The city has $44 million in unspent federal pandemic relief funds earmarked for homeless relief and budgeted $200 million in the current year.

Johnson’s former coworkers at the Chicago Teachers Union have demanded tax funds to subsidize housing so teachers will live in the city. CTU members average $93,000 currently. If Johnson plans to subsidize their housing as part of a new contract, he will need to find a revenue stream other than his real estate transfer tax hike.

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