Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered her 2022 budget address during Monday's City Council meeting, where she proposed plans to help close a $733 million shortfall without increasing taxes.
The $16.7 billion plan relies heavily on federal funds distributed during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the American Rescue Plan.
"As I announced last month with the release of the City’s Budget Forecast, the gap for the 2022 Budget was $733 million. Since then, we have been working to close this gap in a way that helps our city fully recover," Lightfoot said in her address. And we propose to do this without any new taxes, no reduction in city services, and no layoffs."
Lightfoot's $12.8 billion budget last year included property and gas tax increases among other revenue-generating and cost-cutting measures to tackle an historic $1.2 billion shortfall that was exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic.
Saying Chicago's economy is "definitely on the mend," she noted that the while the city still suffered revenue losses, they were "better than expected."
The budget aims to invest over $400 million in community safety initiatives, another $52 million in mental health initiatives and $240 million in affordable housing programs, among several other investments.
“Across all of these discussions what we learned was that there was a lot of consistency amongst all of our communities and stakeholders on the priorities the City should be addressing,” Budget Director Susie Park said in a statement. “The broad consensus was the urgency of public safety and the investments that our communities need to be safe, which includes addressing the root causes of violence through programs, services, resources, jobs, and infrastructure— all of which are addressed in the 2022 Budget.”
The plan would create more than 40,000 jobs and change the way low-income residents are charged for tickets and fines.
"Chicago has certainly endured its fair share of crises. But time and time again, what has gotten our city through the trials and tribulations that threatened to make it crumble once and for all is the unity and faith of its people—faith that one day, we will rise above the suffering once and for all and fully step into the light of the proverbial Promised Land," she said, calling for unity as the City Council debates whether or not to pass the plan.