SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — It was a busy day in Springfield for Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot as she attended meetings with legislative leaders and gave a speech to the Illinois State Senate.
Lightfoot is hitting the ground running, knowing she has just over a month before Inauguration Day, and big issues to deal with that will require help from state lawmakers.
Lightfoot has had two days full of meetings with legislative leaders, and was looking for help in crafting solutions to city’s financial problems.
“Our fate is tied together. There’s limited things we can do, particularly from a revenue standpoint as the mayor,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot will soon have to present a spending plan that closes a projected $250 million budget shortfall and makes $275 million in new public pension payments.
“The biggest issue for us from Springfield obviously is revenue and finances,” Lightfoot said.
During an address on the Senate floor she said pensions are a promise and said, “we cannot turn our backs on those promises.”
Lightfoot singled out the underfunded pension problem as one the Springfield and Chicago can solve together.
“I’m committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders and through the collective bargaining process to make sure that we can meet our commitments,” Lightfoot said.
She’s also spoken with members of the legislature about finding common ground to help the city stay on solid ground.
“I’m being very candid and forthcoming with them about the magnitude of the financial challenges that we face in the city, which are significant,” she said.
One potential source of new revenue is a casino in Chicago, which was an idea raised by some individual lawmakers, but not by legislative leaders.
“It’s something that still favor, and again that doesn’t solve our immediate problem, but I think it’s something we have to address. The sad reality is if we don’t do something about this, we’re going to continue to lose tens of millions of dollars every single year to Indiana and Wisconsin – and that makes no sense to me,” she said.
Lightfoot will be sworn in as Chicago’s 56th mayor on May 20.