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#FreeTheFunds TIF Ordinance

In July of 2016, CPS lowered the base per pupil funding amount to $4,087 for the year from $4,331 last year, resulting in millions of dollars in cuts and 1,000 layoffs of teachers and support staff. In order to avoid these drastic cuts,  BPNC and the Free The Funds Coalition called on City Council to allocate additional revenue to CPS through progressive solutions.

The Coalition’s Revenue Package included:

  • Reinstating the Corporate Head Tax

  • Enacting a Ride Share Tax

  • Increasing the Personal Property Lease Tax

  • Redirect TIF surplus dollars to schools

At a BPNC public meeting in July at Shields Middle School, Alderman Cardenas announced he would be introducing the Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance, which would establish a transparent process to declare a TIF surplus and provide a supplement grant from the City’s share of TIF surplus to CPS, increasing the city’s support of public education.


Currently there is no process for providing TIF dollars to schools and the City determines the amount of TIF surplus by privately analyzing TIF funding requirements and surplus availability

Under the proposed ordinance, if the City contributed $205 million of TIF surplus by December 31, 2016, CPS would receive an estimated $150 million (73% of surplus distribution) for operations.  

Although the Mayor, Chair of the FInance COmmittee Alderman Burke, and the Board of Education were opposed to the ordinance, it  received widespread support amongst most aldermen and figured prominently in CPS’s contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.


Students and Parents led actions at city hall, aldermen’s campaign fundraisers, and door knocked in targeted wards. On October 6th, Students, parents and teachers organized walk-ins at 14 schools on the Southwest side calling on Alderman Burke and the Mayor to #FreeTheFunds.


In the contract, parents, students, and teachers successfully won $120 million in TIF (Tax Increment Financing) dollars for the schools. Check out our storify for more on the campaign.

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