by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago Web Producer
CHICAGO (CBS) – City council’s budget committee on Friday overwhelmingly backed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $ 16.7 billion spending plan for 2022, thanks in large part to $ 1.9 billion in federal aid that will help to fund a variety of social service programs.
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By a 27-5 vote, the budget committee advanced the mayor’s 2022 budget recommendation, setting up a final city council vote on Wednesday.
“It’s a progressive budget. I have to be the first to say this, and I appreciate that there is still work to be done, still to come, a lot of work to be done to get that money out, but I appreciate the collaboration we had on this. budget, and how my colleagues pushed to make sure there were resources for those most in need in our community, ”Ald said. King Sophie (4e), who chairs the Progressive Council Reform Caucus.
The budget plan went with minimal discussion, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35e), the longest-serving Democratic Socialist member of the city council, said it was the result of a commitment by the aldermen and the Lightfoot administration to push forward a spending plan that reflects progressive values.
“The speed at which it was passed reflects countless hours of work behind the scenes between aldermen, departments and mayor’s staff working hard to advance a budget that we believe will advance the interests of our communities.” , did he declare.
He also thanked a coalition of progressive community groups for their contribution to the budget and helping the Lightfoot administration agree to changes such as $ 6.3 million in funding to hire 29 additional staff at mental health clinics. from the city.
“There has been a lot of progress in this budget,” he said. “So I want to elevate the work of the city-wide Progressive Budget Coalition which has fought hand in hand with the work and with the progressive aldermen to obtain a 72% increase in the staff of our public mental health clinics. of the City of Chicago Department of Public Health. This is unheard of.”
The aldermen also praised the chairman of the budget committee, Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) for making sure all their questions about the spending plan were answered in the last few weeks of committee meetings and closed-door negotiations.
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“Everything we asked for, we got it and we got it in a timely manner,” Ald said. Leslie Hairston (5e). “I think you have all given us all the information we asked for.”
The budget committee also approved plans to use some of the $ 1.9 billion in federal relief funds earmarked for Chicago from the US bailout to help cover the costs of providing municipal services in 2020 and 2021. , allowing the city to cancel plans of $ 500 million in so-called “scoop and toss” loans and pay off $ 465 million in short-term debt that was used to cover deficits linked to the pandemic.
The budget plan also includes the creation of a new subcommittee of the Budget Committee to oversee spending on the city’s $ 1.9 billion Chicago stimulus package, which is funded by $ 1.2 billion of federal relief funds and $ 660 million in new borrowing.
The investments included in the Chicago stimulus package include:
- $ 635 million to maintain and expand affordable housing
- $ 26 million investment in arts and culture to expand opportunities for local arts and events
- $ 86 million for mental health to increase access to mental health services
- $ 135 million for direct violence prevention initiatives to increase community safety
- $ 188 million in investments in environmental justice and climate
- $ 150 million for youth jobs and services to expand opportunities for youth to access jobs and after-school programs
- $ 166 million in community development initiatives to promote equitable growth and job creation.
- $ 87 million in support for the workforce and small businesses to expand economic opportunities
- $ 144 million in support of families to connect families with essential resources to improve health outcomes and increase opportunities
- $ 202 million for homelessness initiatives to expand housing services and options for homeless people.
- $ 144 million in other key initiatives, including parks and infrastructure, food equity, and support for tourism and industry
The city will also increase its strength of tree-pruning teams next year, increase outreach funding through the Office of Animal Care and Control, and add more staff to the Department of Family Services and support to increase homeless awareness services.
“The 2022 Stimulus Budget is a one-time investment in a generation that offers us the opportunity to transform Chicago’s future. This budget is a reflection of our values, the needs of the City, as well as the priorities and ideas of our colleagues on Council, our community and business partners, and the countless residents who participated in what was one. the most inclusive budget commitment processes the City has ever seen, ”a city hall spokesperson said in a statement. “The changes made today are the result of the dialogue that continued this week with our colleagues on the Board and with our union partners and represent our commitment to transparency, inclusion and fairness as together we are building a more prosperous Chicago. “
Also, for the first time next year, Juneteenth – June 19e anniversary of the end of slavery – will be an official holiday in Chicago, making it a paid holiday for city employees.
The city council’s finance committee on Thursday approved a $ 76.5 million increase in property taxes and the rest of the mayor’s revenue for the budget.
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A final vote on the mayor’s budget plan is expected on Wednesday.