Chicago City Council OKs Mayor Lightfoot's 2022 budget
CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot led a campaign-style event downtown Wednesday to mark the formal passage of a new city budget.
It uses billions of new federal dollars to increase spending in virtually every category.
"I am beyond excited to announce the passage of the most progressive and forward-looking budget in our city's history," Lightfoot said in a statement.
In what resembled a rehearsal for a re-election campaign that would launch next year, Chicago’s third Black mayor claimed the mantle of the city's first, Harold Washington, who died 34 years ago.
"With the passage of this budget, we've picked up the baton that he has relayed to us," Lightfoot said.
The $16.7 billion budget uses a flood of federal coronavirus relief dollars to increase spending by a record 30%. As they approved it, members of the City Council joked about Santa Claus arriving ahead of schedule.
"I feel like Christmas has come early. Everyone seems to be getting what they want," said 15th Ward Alderman Ray Lopez.
"There are dollars here in this budget for damn near everything that everybody is talking about," said Alderman Jason Ervin.
The budget includes millions more for police, violence prevention, mental health and a first-ever $500-a-month payment to 5,000 low-income Chicagoans.
While that helps the mayor, she faces big challenges.
Loud boos greeted her last weekend at an event hosted by the first union to endorse Lightfoot, Plumbers Local 130.
As FOX 32 Chicago reported exclusively last week, a survey by Ogden & Fry asking if Lightfoot deserved a second term found just 26% of likely voters said "yes," 46% "no," 28% unsure.
"Obviously we do our own polling. So I have reason to be skeptical about your numbers," Lightfoot said. "There are some of you in the media who like to write my obituary. And you've been doing it since – when did I get sworn in?"
The mayor's next test could come at Friday’s special City Council meeting, called to consider abolishing Lightfoot's requirement that city workers must report whether or not they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.