Unions ask City Council members to vote in favor of Rahm's proposed budget

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Veteran head counters at City Hall say Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed budget, which includes the largest tax and fee increases in Chicago history, say it’s virtually certain to win approval.

The hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes and fees is earmarked for public employee pension funds, prompting police and firefighter unions to endorse the mayor's proposed budget.

The funds that pay pensions to retired Chicago police officers and firefighters could be broke in a few years.  But on Monday, their unions sent a letter to every member of the City Council, asking them to vote in favor of Mayor Emanuel's proposed budget when it comes up Wednesday.

The letter declared the following:

"This budget, while not perfect, goes a long way towards keeping the promise of a secure retirement."

Conservative critics complain that the mayor is not getting any big concessions from public employee unions in exchange for his proposed four-year phase-in of more than a half-billion dollars in new taxes and fees.

“You've got to slow down dramatically the growth in benefits and in pay. Because that's the biggest part of the budget. Those are tough things. Those are tough discussions. But if you don't start there, then all you're doing is raising the taxes, chasing away the businesses and the citizens of the city. And you've got a problem that you'll never fix,” said Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Illinois Policy Institute.

Despite worries that the big proposed tax increases will damage Chicago's economy, a City Council veteran who's been counting noses predicted that 35 or more aldermen will support the proposed 2016 budget. That would be ten more than the minimum needed to assure passage.