CHICAGO — City Council budget hearings are underway and alders say Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s plan for migrants doesn’t add up.
The mayor has allocated $150 million for new arrivals, half this year’s projected costs.
On Tuesday, Johnson attended a Personal PAC abortion rights group’s luncheon.
“I want you to know as Mayor of Chicago, I, too, will continue to fight to make sure that this city is a national model for gender equity and championing reproductive rights,” Johnson said.
As much as the mayor wants to hone in on progressive causes, the migrant crisis overshadows everything. WGN News spoke to Johnson about the existing issue.
“Look, over 300 buses have arrived since I took office,” Johnson said. “We’ve stood up a shelter every single week. We continue to renegotiate contracts that have burdened the city in a way that is quite traumatic.”
City Council budget hearings kicked off this week with alders skeptical about Johnson’s plan to allocate $150 million next year to care for migrants. The mayor’s budget director was grilled about how the city plans to keep up with a $31 million-a-month price tag.
“It sounds like we’re not getting a straight answer on how much we’re spending. You say $300 million, we’re relying on the state, we’re relying on the feds. The state has already said that we can’t come down there looking for any more money,” said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward).
Illinois House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch delivered that message last week, telling reporters he does not expect Springfield to send money to Chicago during the veto session.
“We’re going to need support from everyone,” Johnson said. “I’ve said that repeatedly.”
As the crisis strains resources and raises tensions, the mayor decided not to travel to the U.S. southern border this week, instead sending a city delegation.
“Look, we’re still going down there to assess, as well as coordinate and understand what our bordering cities are confronted with and the hope and the expectation is that there is better coordination so that we can deal with this national crisis,” Johnson said.
The Johnson budget team says they’re still receiving money from the state and despite what officials are saying publicly, they’re still working with state leaders to come up with money for migrant care.