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Some expect Chicago to ask state taxpayers to help cover $538 million budget gap

The City of Chicago will be looking at a $538 million budget gap for its next fiscal year. With the large gap and other pressing issues like the costs of caring for non-citizen arrivals, some believe Mayor Brandon Johnson will soon turn to the state for help. 

The city budget is due to the city council by Oct. 15 and will have to make up for a $538 million hole. Johnson has promised not to raise taxes while in office and said he will keep it that way despite the large gap. 

Johnson said in a statement that he will be working to address the budget and will not close the gap by raising property taxes “on the backs of workers and working families.” 

Ted Dabrowski of Wirepoints told The Center Square that Johnson’s idea of not raising taxes might be impossible.

“Costs will continue to go up, and he will eventually go to the state legislature and try to get some other tax hike that can be approved by the state or get state money,” Dabrowski said. “He has no real plan.”

According to NBC Chicago, $200 million of the gap comes from care for non-citizen arrivals and $56 million went to Favorite Healthcare Staffing, a Kansas-based company who has been tasked with taking care of the non-citizens. Some of their employees were being paid up to $195 per hour. 

About 14,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago over the past year. NBC Chicago reported that five more buses of migrants are on their way from the southern border. Chicago is a sanctuary city where enforcement of federal immigration laws are relaxed.

Dabrowski told The Center Square that the costs involved in caring for the migrants will not go down. 

“Right now, we know about the migrants who have been bused to Chicago, but there are many more who are making their way here,” Dabrowski said. “They are going to want to be on all kinds of support programs such as Medicaid and other things. Some are state, and some are Chicago.” 

Johnson said his focus is on developing a budget plan that works for the residents of Chicago. 

“My administration is fully committed to transparency, inclusivity, and effective co-governance,” Johnson said. “We will work tirelessly to ensure that our budgetary decisions reflect our commitment to the betterment of Chicago and the livelihoods of its residents, and provide support around my priorities in the areas of public safety, the environment, youth, and mental health.”  

Dabrowski said he expects the gap to continue to increase. 

“It’s the same that has always been happening. It gets into a bigger and bigger hole. He is digging a deeper hole, and the migrants will make that hole a little faster,” Dabrowski said. 

So far, Chicago and Illinois taxpayers have set aside $94 million for migrant housing. The state budget has $550 million in taxpayer subsidies for the health care of migrants over the age of 65. Chicago is expected to spend over $250 million on migrants this year alone.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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