* The mayor-elect says she’ll be returning to Springfield…
“What I’ve heard from both leadership and individual members of both the House and the Senate is that they appreciate me being here. It seems like they haven’t seen a lot from a mayor of Chicago, and Springfield is incredibly important to the entire state,” Lightfoot said. “I have a feeling I’ll be here with some frequency.”
* Tina Sfondeles…
Asked by reporters how the city will unwind from a pension disaster and bring in new revenue to support itself, Lightfoot tiptoed around specifics. Of a state gas tax that is being considered as part of a state capital plan, Lightfoot noted she is “following” developments.
“We are following it and will continue to follow it really closely. Both to make sure that we’ve got a realistic and sustainable funding source, but also the projects are really important,” Lightfoot said. “Chicago stands to benefit significantly, as does the rest of the state, from having a capital bill which hasn’t been in play, I think for 10 years. We’re going to look at what the options are and weigh in as appropriate as the legislation moves through the General Assembly.”
Lightfoot’s Springfield agenda includes a push for expanded gambling to provide more revenue for the city, and that includes a Chicago casino. The mayor-elect said it’s time to have “serious conversations” about it.
“The sad reality is if we don’t do something about this, we’re going to continue to lose tens of millions of dollars every single year to Indiana and Wisconsin. And that makes no sense to me,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to have serious conversations about a casino in the city of Chicago and elsewhere.”
State lawmakers, however, are scheduled to finish their legislative session May 31, just 11 days after Lightfoot takes office May 20. That leaves little time to make specific financial proposals, let alone win approval from the House, the Senate and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Lightfoot, however, said her initial trip this week was not the time to start making a specific pitch.
“What I have done is been very direct with them about the magnitude of the challenge that we have seen, and we’ll be talking more specifically about that in the coming days,” Lightfoot told reporters under the Capitol dome Thursday. “This is kind of the first couple dates, right? So, we’re getting to know each other, but I’m pressing on the issues that we have to address in this term.”
* Chicago mayor-elect tells Senate ‘bold action’ needed in Illinois: At the end of her address, Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, thanked her for her appearance. “I’ll be back,” Lightfoot said.
* Chicago Mayor-Elect Praises Illinois Move Toward ‘Fair Tax’: “You have taken the initial steps to move forward with the governor’s plan to institute a fair tax that ensures everyone pays their fair share but frees the more modest earners from aggressive taxation that has kept them from getting ahead,’’ Lightfoot said.
* To Help Chicago, Lightfoot Looks To Springfield — But Not On Violence: “The violence is something that we’ve got to take on and own as a city,” Lightfoot said. “I don’t think we need to — in the short term — look to Springfield to solve that problem. We’ve just got to do better in the City of Chicago.” Lightfoot says that will take the form of greater investment in communities and better practices by police. In the past, Chicago has been a driving force behind gun control legislation in the General Assembly.
* Chicago mayor-elect Lightfoot comments on DCFS
* Lightfoot says budget shortfall more ‘dire’ than she thought, but how much more?: Budget Director Samantha Fields was asked what she told the mayor-elect that made Lightfoot believe the financial mess was worse than anticipated. “We highlighted a list of things we knew were outstanding — like Local 2 [firefighters contract], possible FOP contract and a number of other items that we’re projecting for 2020’s budget. And I think her team has done some of their own background and determined the range of those expenses,” Fields told the Sun-Times. Fields was asked to project the final shortfall with the cost of police and fire contracts, retroactive pay and debt service costs.