Lightfoot unveils budget, aims to increase police spending, progressive program funding


Patrick Sloan-Turner

Mayor Lori Lightfoot makes remarks in Ukrainian Village at a rally in opposition of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 27, 2022.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed her budget proposal for 2023 to Chicago’s City Council on Tuesday. 

The $16.4 billion budget serves as her mayoral reelection platform and calls for investments to ease problems of violence, homelessness and poverty in Chicago. 

Lightfoot called it her “stability budget” as the city continues to recover from economic instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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,” Mayor Lightfoot said in the press release.

The budget will no longer include a 2.5%  property tax increase to combat inflation, previously expected by Chicagoans.

Since 2019, Lightfoot’s budget has focused on investments in homelessness prevention, affordable housing, violence prevention, youth opportunities, and mental health.

Her proposed 2023 budget includes new investments toward progressive programming:

  •  $3.1 million investment for reproductive healthcare
  •  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, on Tuesday. “Focusing investments in historically disinvested neighborhoods, performing meaningful community engagement, and increasing transparency have long been my cornerstones for the budget process.”

Under the proposed plan, the Chicago Police Department’s budget will increase to $1.94 billion from $1.88 billion this year. 

To spark economic growth, the budget estimates a $260 million increase in revenues. The proposed budget claims to advance $202 million of the city’s future pension payments, which Lightfoot said she expects will reduce future pension contributions by nearly $2 billion.

“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. “Paying down our pension credit card will save nearly $2 billion in future pension costs and prevent significant investment losses in the pension funds.” 

Lightfoot said during her time as mayor, Chicago reduced its total outstanding debt by $377 million through more active cash flow management. 

“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,” Lightfoot said.