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Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson confident tax plan won't drive people out of Chicago

Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson confident tax plan won't drive people out of Chicago
Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson confident tax plan won't drive people out of Chicago 02:55

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson says if you're going to characterize him as anything, call him an investor. Investing in the city's children, schools, and disenfranchised communities are top priorities if elected mayor.

CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov sat down with the former Chicago Public Schools teacher, who is also backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, to ask how he'd pay for it.

"I know there's been some pushback from a lot of the proposals, but I'm going to be honest with the people of the city of Chicago," he said.

Johnson is mostly straightforward when discussing how he'd find the money to invest in priorities like creating jobs for teens, and hiring mental health professionals to respond to non-violent police calls, which would free up sworn police officers. 

One revenue possibility? A higher price for suburbanites who take Metra into Chicago.

"We're looking at a lot of different measures to generate revenue. The ones, of course, that I'm very much interested in are the ones I've already stated; whether it's a financial transaction tax, whether it's a real estate transfer tax," he said.

Johnson also backs an employee head tax of $1 to $4 per employee at large companies, and mentioned a jet fuel tax. 

"Are there opportunities for us to have things on the table to generate revenue from tourism? Absolutely," Johnson said.

Is Johnson concerned adding any sort of taxes would further drive businesses and residents out of the city, thereby making it almost a regressive tax?

"No," he said.

Johnson also talked about making Chicago safer with a new public safety strategy. Does that include hiring more police officers?

"What it means is, first of all, let just me say that it is a very serious problem," Johnson said. "Here's what we do. Youth employment."

The question of police staffing took some prodding.

Asked if he wants to actively recruit new police officers, Johnson said, "We need more teachers, we need more nurses."

Pressed again on whether he wants to recruit more police officers, or if his priorities are elsewhere when it comes to public employees, Johnson said, "The question is, how do we keep our communities safer?"

So what would he do right away to make Chicago safer while his proposed investments are taking effect?

"Youth employment, we can start that this summer," Johnson said.

He hopes to get corporate participation on efforts to boost youth employment.

Johnson would also like to create tax incentives for businesses when they hire employees from certain disenfranchised communities like Garfield Park.

What's one thing people might not know about him?  He plays the drums.

A spokesperson for Johnson's campaign now tells CBS 2 a Metra surcharge tax is no longer being considered.

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