Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed an increase in the city's gas tax as part of her 2021 budget proposal, which aims to tackle what she called the largest shortfall in city history, attributed largely to the coronavirus pandemic.
Part of the plan, which also includes a property tax increase, would raise the city's gas tax to 8 cents per gallon. Currently, the tax rate is 5 cents per gallon.
The city is looking at a $1.2 billion deficit, Lightfoot said, 65 percent of which is "directly tied to the economic impacts of COVID-19."
“Chicago’s 2021 Budget represents our city’s roadmap toward an inclusive and fiscally responsible recovery from the extensive challenges of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “These decisions were developed through a robust community engagement process, prioritizing the long-term health and stability of our all our families and businesses, and rooted in our shared commitment to expanding opportunity across our entire city. It’s these same values that have guided us throughout this crisis and will continue to carry our great city through the choices we face now, and in the successes that await us in the months and years ahead.”
The budget shortfall, Lightfoot said in announcing the projection, was deepened by roughly $799 million due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has cratered revenues like sales tax and more as shutdowns to prevent the spread of the deadly virus have caused widespread economic devastation.
"I've been very clear since my forecast speech on Aug. 31 that we are looking at a range of different tools, because the enormity of this budget gap requires us to look at a number of different options," Lightfoot said Monday.
"We always look internally first; we can't go to taxpayers and ask them for more and we pretend that the status quo turning the size of the budget, the way in which we deliver services, that that's all fine and can't be touched," she continued. "We've got to look internally first, to earn the trust of the taxpayers and demonstrate to them that we are being the fiduciaries that we are obligated to be for their precious hard earned tax dollars."