Lightfoot on filling Chicago’s $838M budget hole: ‘We have some hard choices to make’

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CHICAGO — Fresh off her State of the City speech, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is continuing to push for long-term budget solutions.

Addressing the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board Friday, the mayor again stressed she does not want to turn to property taxes to fill the $838 million budget hole. 

"We can’t keep taxing the hell out of all our people when they don't make substantial incomes," she said.

The mayor later walked that back stressing she still supports Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s push to move Illinois to a graduated income tax system. To set the city on a better path, Lightfoot is looking to Pritzker for solutions. 

"If we’re forced to go it alone, in essence, our choices are really limited: property tax increases, cut backs in service, potential layoffs — that’s a nightmare scenario," she said. "We have some hard choices to make."

On the topic of gun violence, Lightfoot claimed she and her campaign rival Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have not talked despite a very public feud over bond for gun offenders.

"I have said, 'Madam President, Chief Judge, Sheriff, State’s Attorney, let’s get together, let’s put all our data out…and let’s work together towards solutions.' And what I got back was not a 'Yeah, that’s a great idea.’ I got back another nastygram from her."

Preckwinkle responded with a lengthy statement:

“We’ve invited the Mayor and Superintendent Johnson to the table several times in hopes of having a productive conversation based on identifying solutions. It is clear they are not willing to sit down as they have either been unavailable or declined those requests....”

And then Preckwinkle jabbed Lightfoot, who lives on the North Side..

“I am also in the community. I live on Chicago’s South Side, she says. “I also talk to the parents and loved ones who are directly impacted by gun violence. What I am hearing from people in these communities is the desire for real economic opportunities and investments in their neighborhoods.”

The mayor will have to pass a budget in October. Until then, more listening tours.

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