Lightfoot meets with alderman on eve of State of the City speech

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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her support team gathered Wednesday for an event marking her 100th day in office on the eve of her State of City speech.

The gathering, at Kenwood Academy, featured a panel discussion on what the new mayor has accomplished to date on development, education, and public safety and what still needs to be done.

For Lightfoot, the path ahead is filled with political danger. 

Multiple aldermen said the mayor is telling them the city faces a budget deficit in the ballpark of one billion dollars. 

“This is early days so what we’re mostly engaged in is a conversation about what the size of the deficit and the gap looks for like next year – I think there are some jaw dropping moments when we get to that part of the discussion,” she said.

For weeks, the mayor said she would offer  budget specifics during her televised State of the City speech on Thursday, but on Wednesday, she lowered expectations. 

"To be clear, the speech tomorrow night is not a budget address," she said. "We’re not going to be laying out in specific detail here’s what our costs are, here’s what the supports are going to be for different departments, that’s not what tomorrow night is about. It’s about the start of a transparent process."

Even before Lightfoot shows her hand, anxiety is growing on the left

The Bring Chicago Home group is worried that money promised to fight homelessness will instead go toward the budget deficit.

Some progressive aldermen fear new regressive taxes. 

"Too often what happens is communities are pitted against each other and they’re fighting for crumbs. We’re tired of that," Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th Ward) said.

Last week, the mayor ordered a city hiring freeze, and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) thinks this is only the beginning. 

"There are some departments right now that are planning for a doomsday scenario where they might have to furlough or lay off staff — although the mayor has said she’s seeking to avoid that," he said.

However, the Mayor continues to say everything is on the table. 

Lightfoot will deliver her State of the City speech Thursday at 6 p.m. WGN will carry the speech LIVE, and bring reaction and analysis afterward.

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