CHICAGO — Members of the City Council set aside their differences and approved Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first budget with overwhelming support.
The spending plan passed with 41 yes votes and eight no votes.
The tax levy passed 40-9.
The more than $16.7 billion budget closes a $538 million deficit while holding the line on property taxes.
To win over last-minute holdouts, the Johnson administration added sweeteners.
Among them was a new office dedicated to helping people returning from jail or prison, funding for alderpeople to hire one new ward staffer and a recent agreement to boost pay and pension benefits to police officers.
The budget also contains a modest $150 million to support migrants, funds to combat homelessness, money to open shuttered mental health clinics and support for a non-police response to mental health emergencies.
“This is an investment in our city,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward). “This is an investment in our people. This is an investment in our health.”
“This budget jettisons us forward by addressing the causes of poverty, of violence and criminality of homeliness and poverty at their roots rather than miserably treating their symptoms,” added Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward).
Under the mayor’s orders, budget negotiators did not find new revenue streams. Instead, the deficit was closed using one-time sources of income like city TIFs. But some members remain deeply concerned.
“You can only order steak so long in the restaurant before the bill will come and that bill is coming,” said Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward).
In an exclusive interview with WGN News, Mayor Johnson spoke about why it was important for him not to raise property taxes.
“The raising of property taxes has been used repeatedly to protect the interests of only a handful of people,” Johnson said. “The least I could do in this moment is show up for working people.”