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Chicago City Council delays final vote on $70 million in additional migrant funding

Chicago City Council vote delayed on $70 million in new funding for migrants
Chicago City Council vote delayed on $70 million in new funding for migrants 00:20

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The City Council on Wednesday delayed a final vote on Mayor Brandon Johnson's request for another $70 million in funding to provide shelter and other services to thousands of asylum seekers in Chicago.

The City Council Budget Committee approved the funding request on Monday on a 20-8 vote, setting it up for final approval on Wednesday. But Budget Committee Chair Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) moved during Wednesday's full City Council meeting to delay that final vote. 

The full City Council will meet again on Friday afternoon to take up the funding request.

The city already has budgeted $150 million to care for migrants this year, but the mayor's office has acknowledged that won't be enough for the entire year.

The request for $70 million more 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.

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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.

Last week, the mayor's office briefed aldermen on the $70 million request. At Monday's Budget Committee hearing, aldermen 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," Ald. Nicole Lee (11th) said at Monday's hearing. "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 Budget Committee 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. A final vote on that funding also was delayed on Wednesday, but could be held as soon as Friday.

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