August 30, 2019
In her first State of the City address, Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn’t delve into specifics on how her administration intends to address Chicago’s looming budget deficit—pared down though it was from $1 billion in fiscal 2020 to a still-sizable $838 million. Instead, she used Thursday’s televised address to review the actions taken in the first 100 days of her term, to set the stage for the challenges that lie ahead and to ask the city and state to pull together to surmount them.
“We have some hard choices to make,” Lightfoot said. “There’s no doubt about that, and I will not sugarcoat that reality.”
She noted that “Chicago is and must remain the growth engine of our state and the entire Midwest.” However, she added, “Our long-term solution out of this fiscal mess must be premised on a growth strategy that deals in all of our neighborhoods,” and not only the CBD.
The mayor reiterated her commitment to making a Chicago casino feasible, and expressed the hope that city and state legislative leaders can devise a more viable tax and fee structure that would enable the development of a gaming facility in the city.
If that agreement fails to materialize, though, “we will be forced to make painful choices,” Lightfoot warned. She regarded a property tax increase as a last resort, but said, “I cannot promise you that I will take any option off the table.”
Lightfoot plans to discuss the specifics of the city’s budget in October, in a speech that coincides with the release of the 2020 Budget Forecast. In the meantime, she has scheduled four “Budget Town Halls” throughout the month of September.
Connect Chicago Fall 2019 will take place Oct. 29 in Chicago. For more information, or to register, click here.
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