CHICAGO - Labor leaders are pushing back as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to propose a city budget with hundreds of job cuts.
Asked about the property tax increases and gasoline tax increases she is reportedly planning to propose, the mayor on Monday explained why spending reductions and job cuts are also on the table.
“We can't go to taxpayers and ask them for more and we pretend that the status quo, the size of the budget, the way in which we deliver services -- that that's all fine and can't be touched,” Lightfoot said.
Sources told FOX 32 News the mayor spoke Sunday with the City Council's Black caucus about her options for closing a $1.2 billion budget hole. She assured aldermen that, despite potential job cuts, garbage pickup, pothole repair and other key services would not slow down.
Labor union leaders, who have been talking to the mayor for months, hope to convince the City Council to reject job cuts.
“We have to find a way to address these budget shortfalls without threatening those workers or threatening those services,” said Jake Lewis, spokesman for the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Even before COVID-19 shut down big parts of Chicago’s economy, reducing tax collections, City Hall faced a financial crisis driven largely by billions of dollars in unfunded pension debt. Add to that the cost of looting and civil unrest, and the city's junk-status credit rating.
“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.
After the mayor unveils her proposals on Wednesday, they go to the City Council, which will soon hold the most important budget hearings in years.