Mayor Lightfoot Unveils 2023 Budget Proposal
Balanced 2023 Budget signals strong turnaround of City finances and proposes continued investment in key areas amidst ongoing recovery from the pandemic
CHICAGO — Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot presented the City Council with her 2023 Budget Recommendations. The recommendations reflect her continued commitment to strengthening the City of Chicago’s finances through continued fiscal responsibility, while maintaining investments in violence prevention, poverty reduction, and wellness.
“Chicago’s 2023 ‘Stability Budget’ allows us to fulfill an important obligation we have to our residents and future generations: to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our city for the better,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “We will develop Chicago into a safer, stronger and more economically resilient city while continuing to deliver best-in-class public services to our residents."
The Mayor’s ‘Stability Budget’ combines a bold vision for Chicago’s future with fiscal responsibility. The hard work that began three years ago with the FY2019 budget has enabled the City to set a course for financial stability, despite the economic fallout of the pandemic. As a result, this year the City, announced the smallest budget gap since Mayor Lightfoot took office. Other financial accomplishments include:
- Funded Pensions - Over the last three years, the City increased annual pension contributions by $1 billion in order to shore up the retirements of the essential service workers, and for the first time in 15-years, the City has seen increased funded ratios in its FY2021 financials.
- Reduced Debt - The City climbed a debt ramp created by the end of scoop and toss in FY2022 and over the last three years has reduced the total debt outstanding by $377 million through more active cash flow management.
- Invested in Chicago Works - The City cleared large deferred maintenance by funding a $1.2 billion Chicago Works program which invests in the City’s streets, bridges, lighting, shoreline, and much more.
- Generated New Financial Value - The Mayor also created nearly $3 billion in new financial value for the City with nearly $2 billion from a new casino, after three decades of pursuit and almost $1 billion from a preliminary water supply contract with the City of Joliet, the first new water supply customer in three decades.
The 2023 Budget proposal was guided by engagement with residents, businesses, community-based organizations, and community leaders, which kicked off in July. Over the past three years, more than 100,000 Chicagoans have participated in the budget community engagement process through dozens of town halls, roundtables, live social media events, and forums. The feedback received is integral to the budget planning process.
“Each and every year, community engagement has helped to guide us as we continue to provide the services our residents need, while keeping the city on a course towards a stable and sustainable financial future,” said Budget Director Susie Park. “The City has invested more than $2 billion in improving essential city services and new and ongoing key investments as a result of ongoing community feedback.”
As a further manifestation of the City’s strong economic recovery from the pandemic, the 2023 Budget estimates a $260 million increase in revenues since the budget forecast was released. As a result, the City is able to eliminate the proposed CPI increase in the 2023 budget while also advancing $202 million of the City’s future pension payments. This strategic move reduces the City’s future pension contributions by nearly $2 billion and keeps money in taxpayer wallets when they need it most.
"The proposed FY2023 Budget is another testament that the City of Chicago is in the midst of a financial turnaround,” said Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett. “For the first time in the City’s history, the City made an actuarially determined contribution in FY2022 for all four pension funds. Now, the City’s financials are strong enough now that it can begin to pay down its pension credit card. Paying down our pension credit card will save nearly $2 billion in future pension costs and prevent significant investment losses in the pension funds."
The 2023 Budget also sustains funding for historic programs and investments made in the FY2022 Budget, including the $1.2 billion dedicated through the Chicago Recovery Plan (CRP). As the most progressive investment plan in the City’s history, the CRP includes critical investments that are expected to generate 7,000 jobs over time. Investments in homelessness prevention, affordable housing, violence prevention, youth opportunities, and mental health have been the pillars of Mayor Lightfoot’s budget since 2019. New investments in the 2023 Budget include a $3.1 million investment for reproductive healthcare, an additional investment of over $10 million for homelessness and other supportive services, $7.5 million for improvements to City processes around hiring, procurement, and IT, $13.5 million for public safety.
“After three years of hardship, the 2023 budget reflects how prioritizing fiscal responsibility and equity lead to a healthy economic recovery,” said 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, Chairman of Budget and Government Relations. “Focusing investments in historically disinvested neighborhoods, performing meaningful community engagement, and increasing transparency have long been my cornerstones for the budget process. This budget reflects all of these values and presents a strong outlook for Chicago’s future.”
The 2023 budget also continues to implement additional fines and fees reforms. Over the past three years, the Mayor’s fines and fees reforms efforts addressed debt related to traffic and vehicular infractions and compliance, including the Clear Path Relief and Fix-It Defense programs implemented in April 2022, a first-of-its-kind initiative to help alleviate financial hardships for Chicago motorists.
“The 2023 budget includes reforms related to Administrative Hearings debt, which impacts individuals obtaining licenses, permits, and engaging in business with the City. These reforms will help individuals and small businesses with additional pathways to come into compliance and provide relief from regressive fines and fees,” said Comptroller Reshma Soni. “The policies further pave a viable road to economic stability for residents with outstanding fines and reduce the reliance of fees that disproportionately impact low-income communities on the City’s budget. Chicago is among the first cities in the nation to consider the financial capabilities of its residents when assessing fines and fees.”
The proposed 2023 Budget builds on the success of the transformative 2022 Budget and reaffirms the City’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, equity, and economic recovery. The City of Chicago remains committed to supporting critical investments that improve the quality of life for all Chicagoans.
What People Are Saying About Mayor Lightfoot’s 2023 Budget Proposal
“Anyone who works in community knows our goals are bigger than gun violence - it's about building neighborhoods where young people can grow up safe, supported, and hopeful for a bright future,” said Adam Alonso, CEO of BUILD. “That is what this budget is about: youth, housing, infrastructure, jobs - everything healthy communities need. It's an exciting time to be working on the South and West sides - we all know Chicago can't wait!”
“At Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS), we continue our unwavering commitment to increasing access to affordable homeownership and working with residents to create thriving communities of choice,” Anthony Simpkins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. “Mayor Lightfoot’s FY2023 budget recommendations continue the City of Chicago’s unprecedented commitment to providing robust resources for the responsible development of neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides and expanding affordable housing in areas of our city that need it most. In the aftermath of the pandemic, with interest rates and housing costs rising, and talk of a looming recession, working families and communities of color will continue to need those critical resources to help stabilize families and revitalize neighborhoods. NHS is a proud partner in the City’s INVEST South/West and other initiatives that expand neighborhood investment and access to affordable homeownership. This budget recommendation will keep that momentum moving forward.”
“The continued commitment of our Mayor to keeping our youth and young adults safe and employed in our communities is vital,” said April M. Curtis-Rivera, Chief Strategy Officer at Miguel Del Valle Youth Development Center, ASPIRA of Illinois. “Through the DFSS workforce and out-of-school programs, our young people are earning an income, contributing to their families, and our reinvesting in our communities. We are honored to be an integral partner in employing young people ages 14-24 in Chicago's Northwest Community. Through our continued partnerships with our schools, local worksites, and our leadership program, young people can get work experience and life skills to guide their career paths better. Furthermore, we recognize that access to financial resources and wrap-around services empowers our youth, community, families, and local businesses.”
“We are delighted to see the administration’s commitment to affordability and community-driven development reflected once again in this new budget,” said Bill Eager, Executive Director of Preservation of Affordable Housing. “The support, both financial and technical, for affordable housing, coupled with an economic development approach centered on attracting investment to Chicago’s many neighborhoods, is refreshing and encouraging and will build a stronger, more equitable city.”
"As one of Chicago’s largest real estate developers and owners, we are thrilled to see the priorities in the Mayor's budget, including neighborhood economic development, freezing property taxes, and investing in youth programming," said Curt Bailey, President of Related Midwest. "Dedication to equitable economic development -- including a focus on affordable housing on the South and West Sides -- is vital for the health and well-being of Chicago, and we share the Mayor's commitment to continued investment in this great city.”
“I am encouraged to see that Mayor Lightfoot is proposing to continue strong funding for the Trauma Informed Centers of Care Program which has been catalytic in allowing Esperanza to expand and deepen our behavioral health services,” said Dan Fulwiler, President and CEO of Esperanza Health Centers. “CDPH’s multi-year grant not only made it possible for us to bring on three additional mental health counselors – at a critical moment when the COVID-19 pandemic was traumatizing our communities – but it gave us breathing room to plan longer term. We have since capitalized on our TICC funding to secure other support for our behavioral health program, allowing us to add additional counselors and additional sites to provide Southwest side residents even more access to bilingual mental health care.”
“Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is pleased to see Mayor Lightfoot’s 2023 budget recommendation representing a strong commitment to investment in equitable growth and job creation – ensuring that residents also have access to local amenities, transit, accessible employment, and safe and vibrant neighborhoods,” said Darlene Hightower, President and CEO of Metropolitan Planning Council. “With home prices, interest rates, and inflation on the rise, it’s an important time to ensure Chicagoans of all incomes can live and work near public transportation. MPC encourages equitable transit-oriented development (ETOD) to create thriving, connected, and mixed income communities, especially on Chicago’s South and West Sides.”
“The BASE Chicago has been very fortunate to connect youth and young adults to employment and life enhancement opportunities through the City of Chicago's Kick Back Series and My Chi My Future programs,” said Eric Davis, Executive Director of the BASE Chicago. “We are thrilled that the 2023 budgets continues investing in initiatives like My Chi My Future and the Kick Back Series that are designed to give Chicago youth hope and aspirations. We are honored as an organization to be partnered with the Mayor and the City of Chicago in helping improve the lives of young people on the west side of Chicago.”
"Given the challenges facing the commercial office industry, it is encouraging that this proposed budget avoids an increase in the property tax levy for 2023,” said Farzin Parang, Executive Director of the Building Owners and Management Association of Chicago. “Our buildings' office tenants, a majority of which are small businesses, pay over $1 billion in property taxes each year. Property taxes are the most expensive component of office rent, and reducing that burden is important to bringing more people downtown and driving our city's economic recovery."
“The funding for community centered initiatives designed and driven by youth is critical to reconnecting young people,” said Fausto Lopez, Co-Founder of the Praxis Institute. “This is an opportunity to not simply sustain youth initiatives but amplify and expand these efforts to reach more youth across the city. This includes investment in enrichment programs that provide safe and inclusive spaces for youth to explore their creativity through arts, healing, and community building.”
“The Mayor’s continued investment in equitable economic recovery from COVID-19 helps our businesses and communities thrive and grow,” said Jaime Di Paulo, President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “We were honored to partner with the City of Chicago and Mayor Lightfoot to make Chicago a hub of innovation and a fertile ground for economic development. The 2023 budget builds on the success of last year's transformative budget and keeps us on the right path towards a more vibrant and equitable Chicago."
"The Mayor's proposed budget outlines increased leadership and resourcing for environmental and climate projects within the Mayor's Office,” said Jennifer Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “This funding is vitally needed to support community-led environmental initiatives, ensure that Chicago is a global big-city leader on environmental policies, and improve health outcomes and green job opportunities for all Chicagoans. On the heels of last year's strong climate investments, Mayor Lightfoot's newest budget is taking another step toward righting years of under-funding for key projects and programs that support healthy, livable communities in our city."
“Mesirow appreciates and supports Mayor Lightfoot’s commitment to families, communities and economic vitality in the 2023 budget,” said Richard Price, Executive Chairman of Mesirow. “Meaningful investment across each is vital to meeting needs and broadening opportunities, and we applaud the focus on financial transparency, accountability, and equity. We look forward to continued partnership with the City as we all work to advance Chicago as a thriving, world-class center that invests in its vibrant neighborhoods, welcomes visitors, and develops the next generation of diverse leaders.”
“We greatly appreciate that Mayor Lightfoot’s budget reflects the City’s sustained investment in our communities, including the preservation of naturally occurring affordable rental housing,” said Stacie Young, President and CEO of Community Investment Corporation (CIC). “CIC and our borrowers, the small, responsible local businesses who buy and rehab multifamily buildings on the south and west sides, appreciate both the ongoing commitment to rental preservation, and the City’s new investments in evolving neighborhood needs, such as Single Room Occupancy (SRO) preservation, and sustainable retrofits. We are energized by the Mayor’s vision and stand ready to collaborate with the City and others partners so that our neighborhoods continue to stabilize, recover, and thrive.”
“We are pleased to see dedicated resources to support children and youth in out-of-school time experiences,” said Natasha Smith-Walker, Executive Director of Project Exploration. “The value of having diverse afterschool opportunities in our communities ensures that we support our families and meet the needs of our community and children. Project Exploration has had the opportunity to lead Kickbacks and work with teens to host various events has been a great experience. We are pleased to be a partner and thought leader with the City in ensuring all children and youth have safe places and spaces for learning, growing, and having fun!”
"City workers provide essential services in every neighborhood of this City and we owe it to them to secure their retirement," said Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. "We commend Mayor Lightfoot for taking this important step to safeguard the pensions of public service workers, which will pay dividends in savings down the road."