CHICAGO (FOX 32) - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the budget deficit facing the city is the largest in recent memory.
She'll reveal the cold hard reality in what's being billed a first of its kind televised State of the City address Thursday night. The speech will focus on the painful reality that Chicago is facing a massive budget deficit that's predicted to be more than $1 billion.
"It’s dire, it's very serious,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I think we are going to have the largest budget deficit in recent memory and certainly in a generation. That's because we have not done the tough things needed previously to bring the budget down, the structural problems down, and we can't afford to keep kicking that can down the road.”
The Mayor said she doesn't anticipate layoffs, but was not so quick to answer the question of an increase in taxes.
"I’m not going to get in front of where the speech is,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We have taken a lot of measures to make sure we are building efficiencies in the way we are operating but even with those measures, we are still looking at a sizable deficit for next year. It's going to be really important that we continue to dig down deep.”
On Friday, Mayor Lightfoot imposed a city government hiring freeze that affects all departments, including the police.
“I didn't run for office to just build a power base to encourage longevity,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “I ran for office to bring change to the city. That's what people voted for, that's what they tell me they want every single day. And if it means sacrificing myself politically to do the right thing not to shy away, I’m going to do the right thing every single time.
“We have to be a city of growth, not exodus,” she continued. “So everything we are doing is to focus on what we can do to grow our economy, to get people who are here to feel like Chicago can be their home."
Mayor Lightfoot also touched on how she feels about Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“Look, I have a lot of confidence in Eddie Johnson, but I’m challenging him,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We have a very good productive working relationship and a very candid relationship. But I’m not satisfied with the numbers. I can't be satisfied when we have the number of people shot that we have, I can't be satisfied when we have the number of guns we are collecting on the streets on a daily basis. But I know we are headed in the right direction, and it's due to the leadership of the superintendent and his team."