City Club of Chicago: Paul Vallas
October 15, 2018
Negotiating the Path of Chicago’s Financial Future – Candidate for Mayor of Chicago – Paul Vallas
Paul Vallas has been one of the America’s leading educators and crisis managers for the last three decades. A Greek American who grew up working in his family’s restaurant business, Vallas is a former teacher and 10-year staff member for the Illinois state legislature. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley recruited Vallas in 1990 to reform the scandal-ridden Department of Revenue and to revamp the City’s tax and fee systems. When promoted to Budget Director, Vallas ended the City’s recurring budget crisis, while simultaneously putting an additional 1,500 police on the streets. He financed one of the largest infrastructure investment programs in Chicago’s history, including resurfacing 70-percent of Chicago’s streets and roads. In 1995, Daley appointed Vallas to run the financially bankrupt and academically failing Chicago Public Schools, where he closed a projected five-year $1.3 billion budget deficit, balanced six consecutive budgets, instituted a massive school construction and renovation plan, and instituted education program reforms which improved test scores each year.
Vallas went on to run school systems around the country including in Philadelphia and New Orleans, where he re-established a new system in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Vallas has also spearheaded emergency efforts to re-build school systems in Haiti and Chile following devastating earthquakes that destroyed much of the infrastructure in those countries.