Chicago teachers propose tax on traders to fund pensionsNews added by Benefits Pro on May 8, 2014

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By Lisa Barron

Financial traders in Chicago could become “heroes” in the Windy City if they paid a tax on each transaction to help solve the pension crisis, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board this week.

Lewis and the union have proposed the so-called LaSalle Street Tax, after the street in the heart of Chicago’s financial district, as a means of funding public pension obligations.

William Barclay, an economist advising the CTU, estimates a $1-to-$2 tax levied on the sellers and buyers of futures, futures options and securities option contracts traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange could translate into an additional $12 billion a year, some of which could be used for pensions, according to the Sun-Times.

“This is an opportunity to actually make heroes out of these people. Instead of everybody being angry at them about their money and their greed and all these other things,” Lewis said.

“This is an opportunity for them to say, ‘You know what, we’re part of the city. We love this city. We’d like to see the city work. We’d like to be a part of the process and this isn’t going to be enough to make us want to go.”

But the CME Group, which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, apparently does not agree.

“CME Group absolutely believes that our hometown of Chicago should have a strong, world-class public education system. However, we do not believe the way to accomplish a strong public school system is through singling out futures traders with a tax more than 200 percent higher than what the average trader pays to buy or sell a futures contract,” spokeswoman Laurie Bischel told the Sun-Times.

“Futures traders do not have to do their business in Chicago today and this tax would make sure that they don’t do business in our city going forward.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn reportedly said it would be very difficult to get enough votes in the legislature for the tax to go through.

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