Mayor Brandon Johnson’s budget address is slated for Wednesday. Need a primer on what to expect? WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel gave the City Cast Chicago podcast the rundown after the budget forecast was released last month.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity
How progressive will Johnson be in his budget?
“I do think what we'll see is sort of a consensus budget where he'll have to kind of work within the bounds of a $500 million gap but also maybe some signs of progress (e.g., movement on reopening mental health clinics or the department of environment) that he'll be able to point to and say, ‘Look, we are taking these things seriously and we have three more years to continue on these promises.’”
Will property taxes be raised?
“Johnson campaigned on not raising property taxes. His budget forecast says he's going to make good on that promise. Now, this is a forecast. It can change. … But his decision to not raise property taxes this year is causing an $88 million hole in the budget that he'll also have to make up for, particularly because property tax increases go directly to pensions.”
What comes after the budget address?
“Every department head comes and testifies before the City Council. … Then, we'll do budget amendments. The budget will go through City Council. The mayor will tweak his proposal if he's getting pressure. … They are trying to get this passed before Thanksgiving, which is a really tight turnaround. But they have to get it passed by the end of the year to start operating on this budget next year.”