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Choose Chicago becomes casualty of gov. dispute

As Illinois headed into its new fiscal year on July 1 without a budget plan in place for 2016, Choose Chicago, the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau (CVB), has been left to grapple with a multi-million dollar loss in state funding.

In a mass message to newsletter subscribers, President and CEO Don Welsh stated that Choose Chicago stood to lose “$7.2 million in budgeted revenues through December of this year and well over $12 million over the next 12 months.”

Reduced state funding for Choose Chicago is expected to affect the city's tourism industry.
Reduced state funding for Choose Chicago is expected to affect  tourism.

A disagreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly regarding the budget for fiscal 2016 has dragged out well pass the deadline for a resolution on June 30.

Rauner’s administration indicated that if both sides of the conflict didn’t come to an agreement, then Choose Chicago would become one of the areas in which the state would suspend funding. State funding from the Illinois hotel tax constitutes 40 percent of the CVB’s annual operating budget, according to Welsh.

Choose Chicago has already experienced side effects from the budget conflict that has some media predicting a government shutdown. Welsh explained the CVB had to cut short its ‘Chicago Epic’ summer campaign two weeks early. Additionally, he added that Choose Chicago ceased operations for a planned winter campaign.

Welsh called on supporters of Choose Chicago to let their voices be heard:

“If you support our efforts, please sign and send a letter to Gov. Rauner and your state senators and representatives urging them to continue giving our organization the statutorily mandated funding from the state hotel tax,” he said.

For those interested in signing an electronic letter, visit here.

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