Lightfoot's 2020 budget is good enough for now

The best thing you can say about the mayor's new budget is that, at least on paper, it's balanced. And that's not nothing.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Stephen J. Serio

79彩票注册网址

The best thing you can say about the budget that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot just passed through the City Council is that, at least on paper, it's balanced.

79彩票注册网址That's not nothing, by the way. In fact, given the situation Lightfoot and her fledgling team faced when they came into office this year, hammering out a budget that covers the city's costs without radically ratcheting up property taxes or necessitating a round of painful, widespread layoffs is an achievement in its way.

79彩票注册网址So, that's the good news.

79彩票注册网址What's unclear is whether this budget is durable enough to carry us through the year ahead. The mayor and her team made some calculated bets to make the math add up.

As Crain's A.D. Quig reported on the day Lightfoot's $11.6 billion budget passed the council by a 39-11 vote, the 2020 spending plan includes an added $281 million payment to the city's statutory contribution to police and fire pensions, one of the city's rising costs that does not yet have a structural solution. Revenues from a Chicago casino are meant to be dedicated to those pensions, but Lightfoot failed during the recent veto session in Springfield to land a more favorable tax structure to get a casino up and running. The 2020 budget did not count on those revenues, but the mayor has pledged to try again in January.

79彩票注册网址Similarly, Lightfoot is projecting that she'll get $150 million in personnel savings from zero-based budgeting, but her team has not yet specified where those cuts are going to come from. Her budget also counts on $163 million in new Medicaid reimbursement for use of Fire Department ambulances that may or may not come through. And she is betting that credit rating agencies won't balk at her immediately booking $200 million in savings over coming decades from a debt refinancing. As Crain's political columnist Greg Hinz points out, a midyear course correction on the budget—read a property tax increase—may be inevitable.

Meanwhile, the budget figures on another chunk of change—$74 million—that comes from declaring a surplus in tax-increment financing district funds. That's not something the mayor can do every year without facing claims that a TIF program throwing off that much extra cash is out of whack.

79彩票注册网址Balancing the 2021 budget is likely to be even more difficult because Lightfoot won't be able to rely on such one-time tricks as the $200 million debt refinancing. She'll also need to come up with another few hundred million dollars to finance pensions.

To get the job done next year, the mayor really must get her revamped casino tax proposal pushed through Springfield. And she would dearly like to pass her real estate transfer tax—though to do that, she'll likely have to cut some sort of deal with the progressives who are snapping at her on her left while keeping the real estate investment community at bay.

Lightfoot learned a few things, it would seem, from her setbacks in Springfield and with the teachers union this year. The real test of how well she learned those lessons will come in the year ahead. In the meantime, she's right to declare a temporary victory on the 2020 budget—and to savor the celebratory glass of scotch she promised herself.

7072彩票开户 7073彩票地址 963彩票开户 7073彩票网址 689彩票邀请码 7073彩票注册 8炫彩彩票app 677彩票开户 7073彩票登录 66顺彩票app
Letter
to the
Editor

Have something to get off your chest? You can?send us an email.?Or tell us on our page or on? @CrainsChicago.