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Chicago City Council weighs mayor's ask for $70 million in migrant funding

Chicago City Council weighs mayor's ask for $70 million in migrant funding
Chicago City Council weighs mayor's ask for $70 million in migrant funding 02:05

CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson's request for an additional $70 million to support asylum seekers was before a City Council committee on Monday.

The city's Budget and Government Operations Committee approved the funding 20-8. Still, some members asked why this may be taken from the city's rainy day fund and questioned whether they should spend more on the mission at all.

The money request is part of the original spending plan Gov. JB Pritzker's office said was discussed back in February when the governor and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced they would invest a combined $250 million to help fund the migrant mission, which they said, along with the Johnson administration, anticipated would cost $321 million for shelter and services this calendar year.

Johnson was asked about reports that he had committed an additional $70 million to complete that $321 million estimated cost, but he denied it at the time.

Chicago City Council members debate $70 million ask for migrant funding 02:36

CBS 2 learned that the $70 million discussed by the City Council on Monday was in fact what Johnson discussed in February. Aldermen were split on the issue and asked if the Johnson administration planned on coming back to the council to ask for additional funds after the $70 million amount being requested might run out.

"I will be a yes on this today, because I know that we need the funding. I know that there is county funding and there is state funding to go along with this," said Ald. Nicole Lee (11th). "But there has to be, there has to be more transparency. People need to understand how these funds are being spent and we need to move with all expediency to help people get on their feet so that they can start taking care of themselves."

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) added, "There's no good news here. There's no found money. There's no free money. The decisions we make in the next couple days about these large buckets of money that exist are going to have a profound impact on our ability to balance our budget in 2026 and subsequently, 2027."

The council also approved $48 million in grant money from the state and federal government, much of which will be used to pay outstanding debt the city owes for staffing and shelter costs.

Both revenue sources will need to be approved by the full City Council on Wednesday.

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