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Chicago mayor: Pandemic has caused $1.2B hole in 2021 budget

August 31, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2020 file photo, Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at a news conference Monday, in Chicago. Lightfoot predicted a $1.2 billion hole in the 2021 budget on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, calling the coronavirus pandemic the "single largest driver" of the city's economic challenges.(Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP File)
FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2020 file photo, Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at a news conference Monday, in Chicago. Lightfoot predicted a $1.2 billion hole in the 2021 budget on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, calling the coronavirus pandemic the "single largest driver" of the city's economic challenges.(Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot predicted a $1.2 billion hole in the 2021 budget on Monday, calling the coronavirus pandemic the “single largest driver” of the city’s economic challenges.

In her budget forecast, the first-term mayor said tourism, transportation and the hospitality industry have been hit hardest amid closures due to COVID-19.

“Make no mistake, this will be our pandemic budget,” she said. “COVID-19 is the single largest driver of economic challenges and our city’s budget gap.”

Lightfoot didn’t offer many details on how Chicago officials would close the gap, noting city worker layoffs as one possibility. Lightfoot didn’t mention a property tax hike as a solution.

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She said federal help will be needed as cities nationwide are struggling to fight the virus and address economic fallout. Illinois health officials on Monday announced 1,668 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths.

Roughly $400 million of the shortfall is related to Chicago’s underfunded pension system.

Chicago will close the 2020 budget year with a nearly $800 million shortfall as the city suffers from soaring unemployment. Since the pandemic’s start, roughly 900,000 people have filed for unemployment, Lightfoot said.

She said this year’s shortfall would largely be addressed with federal aid and debt refinancing, among other things.