Mayor breaks promise to reopen mental health clinics

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Manuel Martinez/WBEZ)

New $11.6M budget passes after heated debate

Crusader Staff Report

Chicago’s 16 Black aldermen were among the 39 aldermen who approved Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $11.6 billion budget that averted massive property tax hikes. However, the mayor broke her promise to reopen six mental health clinics that her predecessor closed in 2012.

The final vote was 39-11. Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th), Jeanette Taylor (20th) and Maria Hadden (49th) were the other Black aldermen who voted against it.

The new budget balances the $838 million budget deficit the city faced, but customers dining at Chicago restaurants will have to pay an increased tax on all food and drinks. Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft will have to pay a higher fee to operate in the city.

Lightfoot expects the hike to generate revenue by $40 million. The mayor accused Uber of “paying off” Black ministers” to defeat her measure, and proposing its own plan, which the mayor later dismissed.

Lightfoot drew heavy criticism from the council’s more progressive aldermen because her budget doesn’t reopen the six mental health clinics that former Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed in 2012 to save the city $3 million.

Throughout her campaign, Lightfoot at various forums in the Black community, promised to reopen those clinics if elected mayor. After she defeated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the mayoral runoff, Lightfoot began backpedaling on her promise in a meeting with Chicago’s Black Press, including the Crusader, saying she was looking at other options to address the city’s mental health problems.

Beale criticized his colleagues before the vote and said, “This is not a balanced budget. This is a budget with a bunch of holes that will have to be filled” at a later date because it’s “filled with smoke and mirrors.”

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