Mayor Johnson meets with labor leaders on 2nd day in Springfield, continues push for state funds

He continued to make requests for additional money for Chicago Public Schools, lead pipe replacement

Thursday, May 9, 2024
Johnson meets with labor leaders on 2nd day in Springfield
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson met with labor leaders on his 2nd day in Springfield, Illinois. He also continued his push for state funds for the city.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson is heading back to the city Thursday, after a two-day visit to Springfield.

Earlier in the day, Johnson held a meet-and-greet with lawmakers and labor leaders at the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, Illinois headquarters.

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The mayor worked the room, with many one-on-one conversations.

"It's important that people's vision for the city of Chicago, that Springfield has a clear view of that," Johnson said after the meeting. "Certainly, my connection to the labor movement is quite obvious. But it's also an opportunity to make sure that our community-based organizations are corporations, and, of course, our elected officials are all having strategic conversations about critical investments."

The mayor also joined with labor leaders in advocating for a new Bears stadium in Chicago, which would provide many new jobs.

"The problem that we have is we have a 100-year-old building that is owed hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. And it doesn't have real public access, public benefit or for public use," Johnson said.

He continued to make requests for additional money for Chicago Public Schools and lead pipe replacement.

Funding for CPS could be a tough ask in a tight budget year.

He also advocated for a statewide domestic violence hotline.

"We work hard to make sure we have a balanced, responsible budget, and I think we're gonna get it done this year. It's just a matter of planning and prioritizing," said state Rep. Ann Williams, a Democrat from the North Side.

Johnson said he is encouraged by the Springfield visit.

"I thought what he did this morning was very, very good. He's best of those one-on-one conversations and talking to people and listening," Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea said.

Even if the mayor's visit to Springfield doesn't result in Chicago getting the money he said it deserves, lawmakers said the trip had value.

"You know, politics is all about relationships. And getting to know people, letting people know who you are and your values," said state Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Democrat from the West Side.

The legislative session wraps up later this month. That's when the value of the mayor's visit will be known, as lawmakers finalize decisions about where and how to raise and spend taxpayer dollars.

On Wednesday, Johnson pushed for $1 billion that he said Chicago is owed in state funds.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson spoke in Springfield Wednesday.

Mayor Johnson met with legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, including House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch.

"We know that the conservative estimate of what the city of Chicago deserves is $1.1 billion," Johnson said. "We're all working towards that goal. You know, as far as the specifics around how we generate revenue to ensure that, again, that's an ongoing conversation."

One of the mayor's priorities is advocating for additional funding for Chicago Public Schools, which would amount to a nearly 50% increase in state funding for CPS. The ask was something a number of lawmakers privately scoffed at. It comes at a time when the city is about to begin negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union on a new contract.

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"But if he wants to help me to make sure that more money gets into Chicago Public Schools, and, again, he would join me in asking for an additional $200 million into the school funding formula, which would increase it to $550 million," said state Rep. Will Davis, chair of the Appropriations Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education.

The mayor also met with the the legislative progressive caucus, along with Gov. JB Pritzker.

The Chicago Black Aldermanic Caucus was also in Springfield on an unrelated, previously scheduled trip to meet with members of the Legislative Black Caucus. They were also advocating for Chicago.

"We do not have the luxury not to work together anymore. Our communities are in chaos," Ald. Jeanette Taylor said. "We got responsibilities to all our taxpayers, and so this is an opportunity, and we can't pass on it."

Infrastructure to help address the underlying problems that contributed to the widespread flooding on Chicago's West Side last summer was on their agenda.

"So, we're looking at infrastructure dollars not only to expand the sewers, and to come up with the reservoir situation, but also to deal with the operational issues that our residents were faced with. Some still have mold in their basement. Some still have not recovered from the flood of last year," 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin said.

The Chicago Black Aldermanic Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus and Latino Caucus also met with Johnson Wednesday.