New coronavirus bailout law estimated to deliver nearly $5B to Illinois

The federal coronavirus bailout could deliver a billion and a half dollars or more to local government agencies in Chicago.

But will it cover the city's costs? No one yet knows how long the Chicago area's $600 billion economy will remain mostly shut down. But it's estimated the new coronavirus bailout law will deliver nearly $5 billion to the state of Illinois, with local governments in Chicago getting about one-and-a-half billion bucks.

“It’s too soon to know what the full weight of the impact will be,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “From the COVID response, we're going to aggressively seek every reimbursement that we possibly can.”

In a telephone call with reporters Thursday, the mayor and her top budget aides estimated the federal bailout will send city hall about $500 million, the CTA $800 million and Chicago’s public schools $205 million.

Lightfoot rejected those who say COVID-19 cases could soon peak in Chicago, raising hope for a return to normal.

“We’re not close to seeing a peak in cases yet,” the mayor said. “We’re not going to be comfortable coming out of the closures until we see a much larger scale of testing than what we have right now.”

When workplaces do reopen, many experts foresee a slow, uneven economic recovery.

“Certainly the situation is no better in Illinois than it is anywhere else. And it is not likely to improve anytime soon, because of the ripple effect,” said Professor Patrick Gray of North Central College.

Once things do reopen, many experts fear a sort of vicious circle, with frightened employers waiting for consumers to start spending before they start hiring -- while tens of millions of unemployed will not be able to spend until they have a paycheck again.