Late Monday evening, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) tweeted that only one thing could avert the citywide strike—its second in four years—scheduled for the next day: “We’re asking for $500/student for resources. Until the mayor decides to provide from TIFs, negotiations continue.”
A few minutes before midnight, CTU President Karen Lewis announced at a press conference that a tentative agreement had been reached and the strike was off. Asked by a reporter whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel had indeed agreed to release tax increment financing, or TIF, funds to the schools, Lewis said with a smile, “Well, it’s not in the contract, but there are rumors…”
It seemed that indeed, the mayor had “decided to provide from TIFs.” Later, a mayoral spokesperson confirmed to WBEZ that Emanuel was releasing $88 million in TIF money to schools, far less than would be needed to fund the CTU’s demand of an additional $500 per pupil.
What are TIFs, and how did this obscure and shadowy public financing tool become central to the battle over the future of Chicago public schools?
Reposted from Working In These Times