2020 Budget: You’ll Pay More For Uber, Minimum Wage Set To Rise But Mental Health Clinics Won’t Reopen
By Heather Cherone NOV 26, 2019
Lori Lightfoot may have campaigned on ending business as usual to become Chicago’s 56th mayor, but her first budget season is set to end Tuesday in the same way city budgets have ended for decades: with a quick and decisive rubber stamp.
Even without help from state lawmakers, aldermen are set to approve Lightfoot’s plan to close an $838 million budget gap by finding savings and efficiencies, while raising some taxes and fees to avoid a large property tax increase.
But there are likely to be fireworks when aldermen gather at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Lightfoot brushed off calls from two of her loudest critics — Alds. Anthony Beale (9th) and Raymond Lopez (15th) — to delay the budget vote. In a letter Monday, Lightfoot suggested that Beale did not understand the budget because he skipped several days of budget hearings to go hunting.
The debate over the $11.65 billion spending plan also served to highlight the schism between the mayor and several progressive groups, who accused her of breaking campaign promises to raise taxes and fees on Chicago’s wealthiest residents and firms to fund services for homeless people, reopen the public mental health clinics closed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and make a significant debt in the city’s shortfall of affordable housing shortfall.
But faced with what she called the largest deficit in modern Chicago history, Lightfoot put those plans on the backburner and focused on staunching the flow of red ink threatening to overwhelm the city’s finances.
Despite praise from the Civic Federation, a business-oriented government watchdog, the spending plan is precariously balanced.
The budget relies on $163 million in reimbursements from the federal government for ambulance rides through the Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services.. However, state officials have said the federal government has offered no deadline for a decision on those reimbursements.