Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is set to deliver her 2020 budget plan today, as she looks to dig the city out of a daunting $838 million deficit. Watch her speech live here beginning at 10 a.m.
Just more than five months after taking office, the new mayor was set to deliver her first budget speech before the City Council. Outside City Hall, large groups of striking CPS teachers and supporters were expected to picket during Lightfoot’s speech and were planning to hold a large rally outside the Thompson Center later.
In addition to the Chicago Teachers Union strikers, Service Employees International Union Local 73, representing school support staff, also will likely be there in force.
Lightfoot walked into office facing a staggering budget deficit and limited options to solve it without help from state lawmakers in Springfield.
Before her speech on Wednesday, however, the mayor introduced a plan to refinance $1.3 billion in city debt to save $200 million in next year’s budget. All the existing bonds that are being refinanced are due in 2040 and the new bond deal also would be due in 2040, the administration said.
Last week, Lightfoot said she will seek to more than triple the tax charged on most solo ride-share patrons heading in and out of downtown Chicago as part of a plan to bring in $40 million more a year. Under her plan, the city also would hike the tax on solo riders using services such as Uber and Lyft elsewhere in the city by 74%.
The mayor also was proposing a tax hike on all food and drinks sold in Chicago restaurants, which she hopes will raise an extra $20 million in 2020.
But she also has spent weeks saying she doesn’t want a property tax increase, declining to give any estimate, and saying it won’t happen if Springfield gives the city help. That could help her redirect voters’ anger over any property tax hike toward state lawmakers. But it also would anger Gov. J.B. Pritzker, House Speaker Michael Madigan and other Democrats whose help she needs on many other issues, including changing the terms of a proposed Chicago casino to make it more inviting to potential investors.
Lightfoot has a handful of other options. The mayor has said she will hike parking meter rates as part of the 2020 budget, in a move that she said will allow the city to keep additional revenue rather than make higher payments to the company that leased the parking meters in a much-maligned deal pushed through by Mayor Richard M. Daley. But Lightfoot hasn’t detailed her proposal or explained how it would work.