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Report: Emanuel Considering Hikes On Amusement, Cigarette Taxes

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The City of Chicago may be facing a budget deficit of as much as $369 million next year, and reports are now surfacing that Mayor Rahm Emanuel may be looking at raising some taxes to close the gap.

As WBBM Newsradio's Bob Conway reports, higher taxes on cigarettes and entertainment may be in the offing. Published reports quote City Hall sources as saying those are two options under consideration.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Bob Conway reports


Sources tell the Chicago Tribune those two tax hikes seem to the most acceptable. An Emanuel spokeswoman tells the newspaper the mayor has already ruled out a property tax or sales tax hike, with the first approach being unspecified budget efficiencies.

The sources tell the Tribune say the amusement tax might be raised by 1 percentage point, while the possible size of a cigarette tax hike was not disclosed.

Chicago currently has the second highest combined city and state cigarette tax in the nation – totaling $5.67. The only city with a higher city and state cigarette tax is New York, which is only 18 cents higher.

If the city does raise cigarette taxes, it would come on the heels of a $1 per pack state cigarette tax hike that took effect on July 1, the Tribune reported. That hike has driven the price of a pack of cigarettes above the $11 mark in many areas.

The amusement tax has been a hot subject of discussion this year, particularly as the Ricketts family, the owners of the Cubs, has been seeking to use public funds generated from the tax for upgrades at Wrigley Field, the Tribune notes.

But those plans have been off the table since May, when the Ricketts family infuriated Mayor Emanuel when reports surfaced about patriarch Joe Ricketts' plans to launch a hard-line and racially tinged attack on President Barack Obama through his SuperPAC.

The ad campaign was called off, but an Emanuel aide said afterward that the mayor did not want to talk with the Ricketts family "today, tomorrow, or anytime soon."


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