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2024 Budget

My Vote on the 2024 Budget

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Over the past several years, Chicago has confronted a series of unprecedented crises that have tested the resilience of our city. These unforeseen challenges, be it a global pandemic or asylum seekers being bussed to the city, have created additional stressors on our already strained finances. 

Despite these challenges, I have seen our neighbors continue to rise to the occasion to support one another and our new neighbors. It's that generosity and fortitude that I look towards to ground myself during budget season. Budgets demand that we center our people and invest in the resources that they deserve. And while we were not able to get all the investments we desired, I believe that Mayor Johnson's 2024 budget sets Chicago on the correct trajectory of truly investing in its people. 

The 2024 Budget does not include a property tax increase. Taxpayers saw substantial increases in their bills after the Cook County Assessor's Office adjusted its formula and methodology to reassess properties. The reassessments came at the same time as historical rates of inflation, adding to the financial strain on households. While inflation has eased over the past year, consumers are still paying higher costs for goods than they were before the pandemic. Pausing the automatic adjustment on the City's property tax levy gives property owners some reprieve. 

The 2024 budget includes important investments that lay the foundation for implementing the City's ambition Treatment Not Trauma plan, reducing the barriers for Chicagoans seeking mental health resources. It includes funding to re-open two mental health clinics and to expand the alternative response model for individuals experiencing mental health crises. This model frees up police resources to focus on crime.

The budget also makes holistic investments in public safety. The 2024 budget includes investments in violence intervention, youth engagement, and expanding the youth workforce. It also funds the Good Kids Mad City Peacebook, which will empower our youth to work on violence disruption in their own communities. Additionally, the budget civilianizes over 400 positions in the Chicago Police Department, putting sworn officers back in the position of protecting our neighborhoods. It also creates 100 new positions for detectives in order to increase clearance rates of ongoing investigations. 

The budget maintains and builds on investments in affordable housing as we face a funding cliff of American Rescue Plan Act COVID relief funds. It includes funding to continue the Department of Family Support and Service's rapid rehousing program, whose success was outlined in a recent audit report from the Office of the Inspector General. It also includes $155 million in grants to expand Chicago's affordable housing stock, working towards closing the gap that exists for the 119,000 individuals in need of an affordable unit. Finally, it includes a commitment to reallocate ARPA funds for the continuation of the City's Single Room Occupancy (SRO) preservation loan program. This program is critical to help SRO providers secure financing for building improvements to provide quality housing to some of Chicago's lowest income earners. 

Intersecting with the issue of affordable housing, this budget establishes the Office of Reentry. Every year, more than 17,000 people leave the incarceration system to return to Chicago. The Office of Reentry will help returning residents secure housing, employment, and other resources, reducing rates of recidivism. 

The 2024 budget also re-establishes the Department of Environment, which was dissolved under former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. The 2024 allocation is an initial investment, which is expected to grow into a more robust department in subsequent years. The Department of Environment is imperative to realize the ambitious goals outlined in the City's Climate Action Plan. These goals are critical for reducing emissions and mitigating the devastating impacts of climate change.

Over the past six months, Chicago has made tremendous progress in enhancing working conditions for Chicagoans through the passage of One Fair Wage and the Paid Leave ordinance. To ensure that these changes are enacted, the 2024 budget expands the Office of Labor Standards by 50%. 

Finally, the budget included an increase in the aldermanic staff salary so ward offices can hire an additional full-time staffer. As the city has experienced back-to-back unprecedented crises, the expectations and duties of our ward staff have also grown. Ward staff helped coordinate COVID testing and vaccine events during the pandemic, and have been at the ground level addressing the ongoing crisis of new arrivals. Ward staff have felt the strain of an increase in mental health crises that come through our office's doors, often having to implement tools of de-escalation and social work to address the needs of our community. Ward staff work hard for their communities, often putting in hours that fall outside of normal business hours. Having an additional staffer will help us serve our communities and their growing needs while helping more evenly distribute the workload among existing staff. 

While there were incredible wins in this budget, there are also legitimate concerns. Specifically, there are concerns that the $150 million allocation to address the ongoing migrant crisis will not be sufficient, as the city has averaged spending $40 million a month. There are concerns that without intervention from the federal government, City Council might face tough decisions on how to respond to and fund the ongoing migrant crisis down the road.

On the heels of the passage of the 2024 Budget, Governor Pritzker announced that the State will provide Chicago with $160 million in additional funding. Of that, $30 million will be allocated for a central intake center, $65 million for a winterized temporary shelter to house up to 2,000 people, and $65 million for wraparound services. Mayor Johnson also rolled out a new 60-day stay policy at the City's shelters.

An additional concern was that the 2024 budget uses one-time TIF surplus funds to fill budget gaps while not introducing any new revenue streams. Furthermore, some of my colleagues expressed concerns that pausing the automatic CPI property tax increase would kick the can down the road. All of these concerns are legitimate, and I intend on working closely with my colleagues, Budget Director Annette Guzman, the Comptroller, and the sub-committee tasked with identifying new revenue streams on how we can make sure that future budgets are not built on the backs of Chicago's working families. 

I voted yes on the 2024 Budget, which passed the full City Council 41-8.

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