Mayor: Progressive Pushback to City Budget ‘Untethered’ from Reality

A week out from a council vote on Chicago’s next budget, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s done haggling over the $11.6 billion spending plan despite criticism from progressives that she’s breaking promises made during the campaign.

“The budget is the budget is the budget,” Lightfoot said Wednesday at a press briefing.

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After making it past committee-level hurdles this week, it’s likely that Lightfoot will get aldermanic approval at City Council’s Nov. 26 meeting.

But progressive organizations are actively working for aldermen to vote against it.

The spending plan “does not reopen the city clinics. It does not introduce progressive revenue that asks the rich to pay their fair share and it does very little for fair housing and homelessness,” said Emma Tai, director of United Working Families.

Lightfoot says those critiques are “invalid” because such demands are “untethered form the reality of the fiscal challenges we have in our city.”

The mayor also hinted that politics may be part of the equation, given that United Working Families counts labor groups like the Chicago Teachers Union as a funding source. In the mayoral race this year, CTU backed Lightfoot’s rival, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and although the mayor’s office and Chicago Public Schools reached a contract deal there’s still obvious tension following last month’s 11-day teachers strike.

“This is an organization that’s closely aligned with the Chicago Teachers Union. I would expect that they will have a drumbeat of complaints throughout my term and it woudln’t surprise me later in the day if they support a challenger to me,” Lightfoot said, referring to the 2023 race.

Tai called that suggestion “petty.”

“This is not personal. This is about what Chicago – what the poor, working black and brown folks of Chicago – need and deserve and this is about what the 2019 mandate was for,” Tai said.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

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