“In thinking about the challenges and complications of this extraordinary year, a year in which we have been confronted with crisis after crisis, at times seemingly without end, I have been looking back on the history of our beloved City to glean insights on any other comparable time. In the historical record, I have searched for comparisons and solutions.
The 1880s through the early 1890s marked a period in our history that has shades of our current experience. This is right after the great Chicago fire. A time in which there was great unrest. The modern labor movement took root in Chicago during that time with a significant unionized work force that ranged from socialists to the more moderate Knights of Labor. There was labor unrest as workers fought for fairer working conditions and an 8-hour-work day.
It was in those days that bombings rocked our City and people feared for their safety from groups of anarchists who routinely created chaos in the streets. But it was also during that time that the roots of the modern Chicago took hold.
A few years before this period, Daniel Burnham and John Root formed their partnership. A young Louis Sullivan moved to Chicago to be part of the rebuilding effort.
The first steel-frame skyscraper was built and the great Frank Lloyd Wright moved to Chicago in 1887.
It was in this time that Chicago moved from being not just the greatest distribution center in the country, but a manufacturing giant as well, one of our great strengths to this very day. New factories, hotels, train stations, office blocks, theatres, clubs and department stores were built where the prairie grasses once stood and Chicago put itself squarely on the global map.
The 1893 World’s Fair was a marvel that visitors from around the world came to see and became a source of civic pride.
But as Chicago remade itself after the Great Fire in 1871, and manifested unrest and civic uprising in the 1880s, some profited while others toiled in futility. Fortunes were made by the white, landed gentry, while many immigrants from that time and people of color remained at the bottom of the social and economic strata.
The lessons I take from that history are many. Importantly, as Chicagoans, throughout our history we have been tested and we have repeatedly risen to meet and exceed every challenge. But what I also know, as a woman of color, is that this time, in 2020, as we rebuild, we must continue to bring others along with us on the journey toward the next chapter in our shared destiny. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.
We named my transition effort Better Together for a reason. I know that when all of us are given opportunity, we all prosper.
During this horrible pandemic, every time that we have shown strength as a city is when we have worked together as partners, making shared sacrifices and facing the challenges head on, together.
A recent example is under the incredible leadership of Dr. Helene Gayle of the Chicago Community Trust, we recently stood up the Together We Rise Initiative.
The first component is a Fund that will accelerate equitable economic recovery for Black and Latinx communities by pooling and distributing philanthropic resources to support initiatives like my signature neighborhood investment program INVEST South/West. The second component involves corporate commitments to reenvision business practices to ensure our region invests more equitably moving forward. Thanks again to our inaugural supporters – BMO Harris, PepsiCo and JP Morgan Chase and especially CEO Jamie Dimon who has made a $600 million commitment to Chicago. And a special thanks to Marty Nesbitt who is working hard to bring others into the fold.
The common theme here is that new beginnings, especially arising from tragedy, require us to face the dawn of a new day with the mindset of togetherness. Not how do “I” proceed, how do “I” profit, or how do “I” chart my own course. No. “We, not me” must be our mantra. Togetherness, not individualism is what will propel us toward a better tomorrow.
We have faced a lot in 2020 and the year is far from over. As this new year dawned I certainly did not think that my year would be marked by multiple tragedies and crises, back to back to back. That I would be measuring success by daily case counts, percent positivity hospitalizations, or declining deaths.
These and other metrics now are daily reminders of the way that COVID-19 has both completely upended all of our lives, across our city, state, nation and world.
Chicago – you, us and we have been transformed in the wake of the path that this terrible virus has cut through our city. We have also been transformed by the many ways, big and small, that we as neighbors have risen to fill voids, address needs and more broadly rallied to meet this challenge head on.
As I have noted before, many books will be written about 2020, and some chapters simply will not be pretty. But I hope as writers opine about this year, some of those stories will reflect the true heart of our city, as told through the eyes of our many unsung heroes – the healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers. And others who generously gave of their time, talent and resources all in service of the greater good, to support neighbors who they might never know. People all over have felt the same pull that animated our predecessors in other challenging times that have marked this City’s storied history.
And like me, many in our City government began the new year without any idea that they would be called to serve in ways they could not imagine, because our residents needed us and as the true public servants that they are, they answered that call.
A memory from this most memorable of years is when we saw the first glimpse of how this horrible virus was disproportionately bringing death and sickness to black Chicagoans, we stood up the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team. What began as an effort to rapidly and forcefully mitigate the unyielding effects of the virus on Black Chicago, expanded to address a similar case surge in LatinX Chicago.
That table has been set and so much good work has been done, but at the outset, the group needed structure and project management. One of our City workers answered that call. She had been working on another important mission, police reform at CPD. But she quickly applied her project management skills to the RERRT, ensuring that leaders not only received the assistance they needed, but that their voices were included in the decision-making process. Thank you, Margaret LaRaviere, for being a critical link in an equity-in-action model that other cities have reached out to learn more about.
Before there was a CARES Act, and before we all became familiar with contact tracing, a heightened need arose. To be clear, as our beloved public health leader taught us early on, “contact tracing is the bread and butter of public health.” But we needed more, many more people to fulfill this vital role. And so in the early days of this pandemic, we issued an all call to City workers, those who could be spared; those whose daily work was important but could be paused in the face of a higher need.
Paula Battaglio was one who answered that call. In her day job, Paula works as a legal secretary in the Department of Law. Paula reflected that as a contract tracer, she bonded with people who were happy that someone cared enough to call and offer support at a time when they were afraid and often felt alone. Paula also said she benefited from providing much needed emotional support and caring to people in need. Thank you, Paula.
From the early days of this pandemic, one of our greatest concerns was making sure people were not left hungry. Whether our school children, our seniors or anyone else facing this concern, we were laser focused on making sure no Chicagoans went hungry during this pandemic. We also quickly recognized that the need would outpace existing food pantries and other distribution systems.
From the City side, Chicago Public Library employees led the way, in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Salvation Army and many other important partners. Our devoted library staff, from former Commissioner Andrea Telli, to Maggie Clemmons, Greg Diaz, Desiree Kettler and many more set up and staffed a call center, coordinated in-kind contributions, set up meals for first responders at hospitals in under resourced communities. The libraries were closed, but the dedicated library staff opened their hearts and helped feed over 1 million Chicagoans, in the darkest, early days of this ongoing pandemic. Thank you one and all.
And you’ll recall the dire warnings that Dr. Arwady, Dr. Ezike, the Governor and I issued over the spring regarding a surge that could have overwhelmed our health care system. We needed to move fast to guard against a possible collapse. The coordinated efforts of federal, state and Chicago resources resulted in standing up an Alternate Care Facility at McCormick Place, a facility that became a model for the nation. The list is long of the many people who worked tirelessly over a few short days to stand up that remarkable facility.
One person in particular warrants our praise: in his day job, he works as a project manager at the police department in the Office of Constitutional Policing. But for several long days and weeks he oversaw 100s of workers as the Alternate Care Facility took shape. Despite the fact that his wife was pregnant with their first child and due any minute, Sudip Singh answered that call at great personal sacrifice and helped create a legacy for our city about which we should all be proud. Thank you, Sudip.
As we moved toward summer, and we finally started to see our case counts flatten, another tragedy struck. Not here, but felt here, deeply, profoundly. 8 minutes and 46 seconds felt in many ways like a flashback over centuries. Centuries of racism, overt and systemic that destroyed the destinies of generations of Black and Brown people, my people, and left us facing generational poverty, joblessness, health care disparities and life expectancy gaps – all of which were exacerbated during this pandemic.
That righteous outcry arising from the murder of George Floyd, unfortunately at times got hijacked by others who came to our city to create chaos and to fight the police. As the tensions invariably rose, other criminal elements probed our vulnerabilities and struck by looting and destroying property and dreams.
To combat the violence and the looting, we got smarter and established a neighborhood protection plan which included sending large infrastructure trucks to key neighborhood commercial corridors. The drivers in those trucks stood watch over businesses and property like sentinels. They truly made a difference in thwarting the efforts of criminals who came to loot, and instead were deterred because of the steely eyed diligence of people like Mark Nichol, a motor truck driver foreman with 38 years of city service; MTD Foreman John Gavin, 20 years of service, and MTD Jesus Velez, 26 years. Dedicated City workers whose regular work includes snow patrol, special events, and garbage collection. Thank you, gentlemen and your colleagues who answered the call when your city needed you.
And these are just a few examples of the countless ways in which our City employees stood tall in helping all of us meet the challenges of COVID-19, a summer of protests and violence and kept our city moving in spite of it all.
This year of 2020 not only challenged our workforce, it devastated parts of our economy. You know that the hotel and restaurant industry has just taken a beating. Tourism and convention business, along with live music and theater, disappeared beginning in March, and while we have seen a slight uptick in visitors to our city, we continue to be at historic lows. A variety of small and microbusiness that never have extensive cash flows have closed, do not have a stable banking relationship have suffered mightily, and if they are still open, they are hanging on for dear life.
What has this meant for City government revenues? You know the answer. It has been devastating, to the tune of a $800 million gap in 2020.
Let’s review some of the losses:
- A 77.5% decline in the hotel tax;
- A 49.5% decline in the Amusement Tax;
- Ground transportation tax down 47.8%;
- Parking taxes down 48%;
- Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax down 48.5%;
- And the City share of the Sales Tax down 35%.
It has been a very tough year for parts of our economy and for our workers. Over 100,000 Chicagoans have filed for unemployment this year. Many jobs have disappeared and others are offering reduced hours and of course reduced pay.
Despite these hardships, and they are painful, the glimmers of a recovery have been flickering into view. Many local and national surveys of Chicago’s economy demonstrate that our economic downturn has not been as dramatic as other big cities like New York and Los Angeles, and as a result, the start of our recovery has been more robust.
For example, the Brookings Institution Metro Recovery Index shows that Chicago’s economic recovery exceeds those of other large cities, and notably, Bank of America studies show that Chicago’s consumer spending recovery has exceeded other large cities and states both in the aggregate and in large telltale sectors like restaurants and bars, and bricks and mortar retail. This is true in part because we have been and remain the most open big city in America.
A study by Homebase, which measures hourly work data, shows that Chicago leads the nation’s large cities in 1. Volume of employee hours worked; 2. Number of businesses open, and 3. Number of employees working.
And just last month, in September 2020, the Chicago Business Barometer, a regional view of the economy, saw business sentiment in Chicago climb to its highest level since December 2018.
And folks, the proof is in the pudding. Even in the midst of this pandemic, businesses are choosing to relocate to Chicago.
Others see us for who we truly are. A great, vibrant, global city with much to offer from a talented, committed workforce, a great transportation hub, to strengths in manufacturing, life sciences, tourism and more.
These are just some of the corporate relocations to Chicago since the pandemic began:
- Xeris Pharmaceuticals, relocated from San Diego
- Amazon (building last-mile facilities)
- The US Department of Energy committed to situating two National Quantum Information Science Research Centers in Chicago and the surrounding region
- NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics
- ILO Technology
- Nielsen Global Consumer Group, looked to leave New York, and assessed options in the US and abroad and chose Chicago because, in the words of Nielsen’s CEO “Chicago is a really good place to have a corporate headquarters. A lot of our clients have headquarters in Chicago. We were encouraged by the development of the Chicago technology scene. It’s a commercial hub. It has a nice balance.”
And folks, there have been no major corporate relocations from Chicago elsewhere. So, thank you to these companies for choosing Chicago. I am confident that your bet on this great city will pay off, big time. And more to come.
And we were thrilled that for an unprecedented 4th year in a row, Conde Nast Traveler voted Chicago the Best Big City in the U.S.
So, in 2020, we have taken some punches. Some very hard body blows. Over the course of this very tough year we have been on the ropes, the referee has started the 10 count, a couple times. But like Barney Ross, the 1930s fighter who grew up in the Maxwell Street neighborhood, we have gotten back up, legs stronger, steely focus, and a resolve to fight on.
And fight on we must, and fight on we will.
And I am pleased to say that through this crisis filled year, we continued to speak our values in the investments we pledged when this body passed the 2020 budget a year ago.
A few reminders:
In the 2020 budget, we made historic investments in violence prevention. $9.1 million. We made that investment because public safety is so much more than using the hard power of the police. We need to support street outreach and community organizations that support individuals and family, young and old.
Additionally, we added another $10 million in investments from the CARES Act.
We will be asking for you to continue these supports into 2021. In total, there is $25 million increase in antiviolence efforts since 2019.
When it comes to housing, in 2020 we made $10 million in investments for housing and homelessness from our corporate fund. And there was more than $87 million in CARES Act funds that went towards emergency housing relief and homelessness prevention in 2020.
Just last fall, Dr. Arwady and I announced a new mental health framework in partnership with a host of community-based providers so that our residents’ varied needs could be met. That Mental Health Framework included a 2020 $9.3 million investment from corporate funds, supplemented with another $10 Million in CARES Act funding that also went to mental health.
And in 2020, we also made important investments in our youth to the tune of $36.4 million. When other cities abandoned their summer jobs programs, we held firm and provided opportunities for 20,000 youth.
And we funded and supported MyChi.MyFuture this Administration’s signature program for young people. MyChi.MyFuture, named by the inaugural class of Youth Commissioners, makes critical investments to insure that no matter their background, zip code or life experiences that our young people will be able to pursue their passions and see more possibilities for their destiny in a more equitable way. I am very proud that my wife, First Lady Amy Eshleman, helps lead this important investment in our young people.
2020 also marked the continuation of the first ever, Mayor’s Youth Commission and our first ever Youth Services Corp, over 1,600 young people who provided critical services to residents as part of the COVID-19 response.
And we continued the hard, but necessary work around imbuing City government with cultural change around risk management. For example, we are projected to beat our budgeted amount for settlements and judgments by $19 million. Our chief risk officer continued the work of identifying and mitigating risks in our police department. The CPD created a new policy to limit police pursuits that in one five-year span cost taxpayers over $50 million alone, in settlements and judgements. The new policy is in place as well as mandatory training.
The same is true of the CPD’s use of search warrants. The CPD created a new policy with higher standards and instituted new training to make sure that everyone knows and follows the new rules.
And in presenting our balanced 2021 budget to this august body for consideration, I laid down some key guideposts that I highlight for you now.
As I noted in August when I presented our budget forecast for 2021, we have made choices on additional revenue that aid our recovery, not hinder it. We have worked very hard to be smart, prudent and strategic and make choices that spur growth and build wealth. We have avoided grabbing for any revenue source without regard to the consequences for economic recovery.
We also did what we did last year and looked inward first and sought ways to deliver services to our residents as efficiently as possible. This budget projects $262.6 million in improved fiscal management. This category of savings includes adding additional parking meters, better management of accounts receivables, enhanced enforcement of certain fees, and loss of collection savings.
As for efficiencies, we expect a total of $168.3 million flowing from non-personnel savings, a new, renegotiated health care contract, and contractual audit and review.
And let me linger for a moment on the contracts. Through auditing work already in process, we have determined that the City has literally hundreds of contracts that are 10 years old or older. Some date back to the late 1990s. In many instances, no one in recent memory has asked basic questions like “Do we still need this contract?” “Are we still getting the best price?” “Can we get a better deal by rebidding?”
These are literally hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts, locked up in what has effectively become hundreds of de facto sole source contracts in perpetuity which also means that we are denying business opportunities to potential small, minority and women owned businesses that could leverage city business to hire more workers, strengthen their bottom lines and expand our tax base. It is easy to do nothing about these contracts, but I have never liked the path of least resistance, and I will not take it now when it is not in the best interests of our taxpayers and our economy.
We are going to dig down deep, rebid the contracts where necessary, eliminate the ones we don’t need and open up economic opportunity for more businesses in Chicago.
Another important, but painful choice that we present in this budget is personnel reductions. I told you many times over these last weeks that everything had to be on the table. And, I have struggled personally with the prospect of layoffs. As a kid who grew up in a household where we always lived paycheck to paycheck, I have very vivid memories of when my dad lost his job, and we had to resort to food giveaways to eat. I do not relish the prospect of unemployment for any City worker.
To minimize layoffs, we have leaned heavily on eliminating vacancies. Across all funds, we have reduced over 1,800 vacancies. All departments, including police and fire, gave something.
This budget we are presenting today also contains layoffs of approximately 350 positions. While we cannot do nothing, hoping for an election to forecast different, better days ahead, this budget assumes that no layoff notices will be issued until next year, and any layoffs won’t be effective until March 1. This schedule will allow us to see if there is any new federal stimulus on the horizon. If that happens, then we can make any appropriate pivots at that time.
We are also seeking five furlough days from all non-union workers. I will take the 5 days myself.
And we have worked with every city department to make sure that these personnel reductions will not result in a material decrease in the delivery of services.
And of course in this most difficult fiscal year, our eyes have turned to our police department. I have been very clear that accountability and reform are essential and must be part of the path forward. As long as I am mayor, Constitutional policing will be an intrinsic part of policing in this city. Period. Full stop.
I am also fully aware of the complicit role that police departments dating back toour earliest times have played in brutally enforcing racist, Jim Crow laws, and depriving Black and Brown people from achieving our full rights as citizens. And these are not just ancient times, but recent history, right here in Chicago. And so, in breaking down these barriers, we must also continue to closely scrutinize all policing practices and policies to eliminate any and all bias.
But I do not believe that having fidelity to this essential work of bias-free policing requires dismantling our police department. I have been equally clear that I do not support defunding the police. And while this term means different things to different people, in this moment, in Chicago, we cannot responsibly enact any policies that make communities less safe.
Yes, agreed that the police cannot be the first and only responders on every call for help from our residents. That is precisely why in 2021 we will launch a pilot program, born of real research from subject matter experts that looks at a coresponder model and starts the process of building the infrastructure for alternative means of response. But to be clear, this is hard work that must be tested and built over time. There are no magic wands to wave, no snapping of fingers or catchy slogans and whatever course we take must be tested on the streets of Chicago, and must be built to address our urban realities and not those of some other city that does not reflect our diversity, our history or our current reality.
I also reject the false narrative that it is either fund the police or fund communities. We must and can do both. We demonstrated that in the 2020 budget that this Council passed last year. We are calling upon you to do the same this year.
Regarding the policing side of the equation, let us not forget that the federal court-mandated consent decree alone requires continued funding of important initiatives based around training, and accountability.
Also, literal defunding means cutting officer positions in a department where close to 90 percent of the budget is allocated to personnel. And given the seniority requirements of the collective bargaining agreements, if we cut current jobs, we would be compelled to cut the youngest, most diverse and well trained officers in the department. That is not in anyone’s interest.
But in this year where everyone must sacrifice, we do propose taking 614 vacancies from the police department. As with all departments, these vacancy reductions were done in concert with the CPD, with an eye on attrition, and the reality of smaller academy sizes in the pandemic, but safeguarding the resources that would be needed to keep communities safe. From last year’s budget and with the creation of the Office of Public Safety Administration, coupled with an ongoing reorganization of the CPD, 100s of officers were returned to the streets to be on the frontlines in the crime fight.
We also will continue to hold the line on overtime, require even more scrutiny and changes to policies that result in harm, like the work done this year to reform policies and training around pursuits, search warrants, and protections for whistleblowers. This is good policy, common sense and reinforces the necessity of risk management protocols in departments like CPD which can be the source of liability for the city and our taxpayers.
So, while we will slow the rate of growth, with a resulting $80 million in corporate fund savings, on my watch, we will never make cuts or policy changes that inhibit the core mission of the police department which is to serve and protect.
And let me make a final point that must be said in this moment: our police officers are not our enemies. Yes, we must continue the hard, but important work of reform, and we have a superintendent who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk every day. Just ask the Tact Team officers who now, every week, without fail, must perform a community service project. Tact Team officers. No more “jump out boys” who only show up to be the enforcers, and otherwise have no other relationships with the communities. Those days are over and we will all be the better for it.
David Brown knows and I believe that the pure, authentic relationship building of community policing is the best crime fighting strategy there is. If police are not viewed as legitimate, if there is no trust, police will never be effective and they will never bridge the divide, and importantly, they will never truly be able to keep us safe.
In this most extraordinary of years, our police have endured a lot, as we all have. And some have fallen short of the appropriately high standards that must be set for the honor and privilege of being a Chicago police officer. And for them, there has been and will continue to be accountability.
But for the many, who came on the job for the right reasons and stay on the job because of love of city and public service, for them, they also have the right to be safe and return home after their watch is over to a loving family.
In this extraordinary year, our police officers have been shot at now 67 times, including 10 officers struck by bullets. That is a remarkable statistic. And that number does not account for the times that they have been stabbed, fired upon with injury-causing fireworks, nor does it reflect the toll of broken limbs and other injuries they have sustained as a result of attacks by crowds, not of peaceful protesters, but those who came to our city armed for a fight.
So, my colleagues in the City Council, as you review this budget and appropriately scrutinize how dollars are allocated toward public safety, I urge you to look beyond the hashtags, and think about the men and women who courageously report for duty every day on our behalf, to keep us safe.
People like 8th District Officers Dexavier Langham and Gino Garcia who, earlier this year, while on patrol, saw flames coming from a parked car and a person trapped inside who had suffered a medical emergency. Those officers sprang into action, broke a window and rescued the driver from the locked, burning car. Moments after they rescued the driver, the vehicle became engulfed in flames.
Or Chicago Police Sergeant Rodolfo Vargas, Jr. who while investigating a shots fired call, came across a victim’s house and noticed property damage from the shooting. The officers carefully checked the home and discovered the victim laying on the floor inside the home with a gunshot wound to the head. Those officers saved her life and the victim’s family is extraordinarily grateful.
And before you paint all the brave men and women of the Chicago police department with the same broad brush from incidents here or elsewhere, I want you to pause and remember Officer Kristian Walker, who with his partner responded to the call of a person shot and found a precious 7 year old girl, with a bullet hole in her forehead and an exit wound in the back of her skull. The girl wasn’t moving, but Officer Walker saw she was blinking and he helped apply pressure to her wound to stop the bleeding. Officer Walker watched as the child struggled for breath and began performing CPR. And when the EMTs arrived, Officer Walker led the ambulance to the hospital. That young child did not survive. That is a tragic loss for her family, and all who knew her that will be the source of life long trauma, as well as a deep wound to our City.
And just as Officer Walker bore witness to terrible tragedy that summer day, his story is sadly, not unique. Every day, our police officers answer the call, run to danger, and sometimes witness unspeakable horror, all in the effort to keep us safe.
I say again, our police officers are not our enemies. They are someone’s son or daughter, husband or wife, brother or sister. They are as complicated and imperfect as all of us. But do remember, they are our neighbors and an important part of who we are as Chicagoans.
And as Chicagoans, we must meet this moment in all of its facets. Which we are doing through the savings and efficiencies ledger that I have detailed.
To also plug our 2021 budget gap, we also assume approximately $501 million in refinancing and restructuring of debt.
And despite our challenging economic times, we have not and will not abandon our commitment to equity and inclusion. We must therefore continue to use government as a stimulus to build wealth, deal more of our residents into the prosperity of Chicago and build back our middle class that has been devastated decade after decade since the 1970’s.
To further spur our economic recovery, we propose making a $7 million investment in our on-going economic recovery efforts in line with the recommendations of our economic recovery task force – the first comprehensive recovery plan published by an American city.
We propose making an additional $1.7 million investment to support our programs for youth, on top of the 2020 programs already funded.
Housing and Homelessness $10 million
We will continue to make a $10 million investment in funding for housing and homelessness prevention. And meanwhile, there is also an additional $52 million in 2021 in CARES Funding that will go towards housing assistance and homelessness prevention and support.
Violence Prevention and Mental Health Investments $5 million
We also propose funding for violence prevention and mental health, including strengthening coordination between street outreach workers and our mental health care system, dedicated funds to reduce domestic violence, and more resources to provide victims of violence with the short- and long-term supports they need to begin the healing process after experiencing the trauma of gun violence.
Revenues and Reserves
And to further balance this budget, we also propose $184.9 million in new revenues and draws from reserves. We propose taking a modest amount from our rainy day fund — $30 million. To be clear, folks, we are not experiencing a rainy day. It is truly a rainy season, and we must continue to be prudent and cautious. This virus is very unpredictable, and we can ill afford to materially deplete our reserves, particularly when it is far from clear that the folks in Washington, D.C. will ever be able to rise above the partisan divide.
We will again aggressively surplus TIF, which will add a net of $33.5 million to our corporate fund.
And yes, we seek a modest property tax increase of $93.9 million. Some had predicted that this budget would be predicated on hundreds of millions of dollars in new property taxes. Not so. And for the average Chicago home valued at $250,000, you will pay just $56 additional dollars a year. That’s right, just $56 new dollars per year.
And while we will keep advocating in D.C. for our fair share of new stimulus funding, we will also keep watch on Springfield. To our partners in Springfield—as I have said before, we’re in this together, we’ve done great things together already in my short time in office–and I know we can work together to fully fund the Local Government Distributive Fund and avoid sending us unfunded mandates.
And yes, we still need real pension reform.
Our work for 2021 doesn’t end with the passage of this budget. We will keep working to make government run more efficiently, and to mitigate risk.
And 2021 must mark the year when we open up new opportunities for enhanced pipelines for good jobs. We have to open up more opportunities in the trades for women and people of color. I very much appreciate those unions that have made diversity and inclusion a hallmark of who you are, but we all must agree that much more work needs to be done. I challenge us to do more and I am ready, willing and able to do my part to make our aspirations a reality.
We need to also challenge companies who do business with Chicago, to do to more on supply chain diversity. We want to do business with companies who do the right thing, all the time, because it is the right thing to do, not just and only to win government contracts. I am determined that 2021 mark the new beginning of asking tougher questions around diversity and inclusion and incentivizing companies who do business with us to open up real opportunities for Chicago workers, small, minority and women owned businesses.
Take my words as an urgent call to action. A call for businesses to make good on their words, and be intentional about opening up real opportunities for those who have been locked out of wealth building opportunities for far too long. The City of Chicago wants to be your partner if you share our values around equity and inclusion.
So, now, we turn this 2021 budget over to you, the Chicago City Council to fulfill your fiduciary duty of oversight, review and I hope passage of this 2021 pandemic budget. I hope that the details reflect all of the weeks, and truly months of hard work that went into closing this historic gap with structural reforms and other measures. We did not shy away from making the hard, but necessary choices. We believe that these structural reforms will set us up well to continue along our path toward structural balance, we which are targeting for 2023. And I hope you will agree and ultimately vote to support this budget.
I have one last ask of this body. As the hearings commence and the debate ensues, please remember to be kind to each other. We and you may not agree on every issue, but let’s have this City Council budget season be a model for the nation on how, democracy, messy as it always is, can also be filled with efforts to build bridges to each other and continue on our path toward that more perfect union.
My team and I look forward to working further with you and as you dig into the details, we stand ready to assist in any way possible.
I do hope that when future generations look back on us as the elected leaders of this city that they will see reflected in the annals of the history we are making today and tomorrow, that we made the right choices in this time to set us up for future success.
Our recovery is in reach. Working together we can get there, and come out of this crisis, better and stronger than ever.
God bless you all, and God bless the City of Chicago.”