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End of session coverage roundup

Saturday, May 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Make sure to click here and check out the cheat sheet. Tina Sfondeles

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Illinois House approved a $50.4 billion state budget that Democrats called a financially responsible and “compassionate” spending plan — and Republicans blasted as “another partisan one-sided budget.”

Just after 2:30 a.m., the Illinois House voted 73-38 to pass the budget, which Gov. J.B. Pritzker touted as his “fifth balanced budget,” vowing to sign it.

“This budget reaffirms our shared commitment to fiscal responsibility while making transformative investments in the children and families of Illinois that will be felt for years to come,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I look forward to signing this budget making childcare and education more accessible, healthcare more affordable, and our state’s business and economic position even stronger.”

* Brenden Moore

In all, there is a roughly $100 million surplus built into the budget. Even a small overrun could place it out of balance, especially with volatile revenue projections in recent months and variables like a still-unresolved contract negotiation with AFSCME, the union that represents state workers. […]

House Republican Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savana, said House Speaker Chris Welch, D-Hillside, offered “false hope for a new day.”

Welch, responding a few minutes later, said, “Work with us and put some votes on the board. … Don’t just talk, walk with us.”

The debate did get a bit salty at times.

* Capitol News Illinois

“We should not have to choose between being responsible for being a responsible state and being a compassionate one,” Speaker Pro Tem Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, the top Democratic budget negotiator, said on the House floor. “We can do both. I dare say we have to do both.” […]

“In our eyes, this isn’t a budget that provides for the future of Illinois,” Rep. Norine Hammond, R-Macomb, the House Republicans’ chief budget negotiator, said Friday afternoon ahead of the final vote.

But Democrats countered that the budgets they have pushed through since Pritzker became governor in 2019 have not only been balanced but have resulted in multiple credit upgrades from the three major rating agencies.

“If you want to vote for credit upgrades for the state of Illinois, vote aye,” Gordon-Booth said in her closing speech just before the final vote. “If you want to vote to fund the public school children in your district, vote aye. If you want to vote to fund the cities, towns and villages in your district, vote aye. If you want to vote to give low income and middle-income college students and your district the opportunity to go to college without being overburdened with college debt, vote aye.”

* Let’s switch gears and send it over to Steve Daniels

Legislation giving downstate utility Ameren Illinois a monopoly on future high-voltage line construction in its service territory cleared the General Assembly early this morning, with passage in the House.

Before the House vote, Gov. J.B. Pritzker pledged to veto the measure, which he said favors the utility at the expense of consumers. He now will get that opportunity.

The 63-32 vote in the House was eight votes short of the number needed to override a veto. The 41-9 vote in the Senate was well above the required override tally.

All GOP House members voting on the bill were in support. All 32 “no” votes were from Democrats, meaning more Democrats opposed a bill passing the House than supported it — a highly unusual result. Many of the opponents are backers of green energy policies. […]

With 22 House members not voting or absent during the vote, the result of a future override is difficult to figure at this point.

There are options here. He could simply veto out the offending part and push for an acceptance, for example. The fact that the bill was loudly and uniformly supported during House debate by the farthest of the far-right works against the bill as well.

* More…

    * Tribune | State lawmakers extend deadline for Chicago’s elected school board map: In 2021, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that will shift the board from a seven-person panel appointed by the mayor, as it has been for decades, to a 21-member elected board by 2026. Legislators gave themselves until July 1 to draw a map of 20 districts from which the Board of Education members will be elected — the 21st seat will be the president chosen by citywide vote — but planning issues, disagreement between the two chambers and fears of a lack of representation forced an 11th-hour delay.

    * Tribune | Migrant crisis puts more pressure on Chicago finances as state budget offers less than sought: The $50.6 billion state budget approved by the Illinois Senate late Thursday and the House early Saturday includes $42.5 million to provide services for migrants arriving from the country’s southern border. That provision emerged earlier Thursday following an ask from Mayor Brandon Johnson; however, his administration had pressed for more, and the $42.5 million total will be available to counties and towns statewide, rather than just Chicago.

    * Tribune | Mayor Johnson aims to address a problem that vexed his predecessors: Woefully underfunded pensions: “As Mayor of Chicago, I am committed to protecting both the retirement security of working people, as well as the financial stability of our government so we can achieve our goal of investing in people and strengthening communities in every corner of the city,” Johnson said in a statement. “Together, with our state legislative partners in Springfield, I am establishing a working group to collaborate on finding a sustainable path forward to addressing existing gaps in the city’s four municipal pension systems (Firefighters, Police, Municipal, and Laborers).” Local Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, meanwhile, released a video in which he said he’s working with City Hall on broader solutions. The clip was seen as a positive sign due to the otherwise contentious relationship Catanzara has with City Hall and his claim that swaths of the police force would quit if Johnson were elected.

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Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend

Saturday, May 27, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Both chambers have now adjourned for the spring. Click here to see what passed and what didn’t and what might get vetoed. Tribune

In the end, it may have been appropriate that one of the major budget implementation bills was shoehorned into legislation that began as an effort to make the soybean the “official state bean.” Illinois legislators wound up writing their own version of the old saw that people should never see how sausage and the law is made, replacing it with tofu.

* More from Tina

One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

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Not a fake headline: Chicago FOP President describes working collaboratively with Chicago’s mayor, legislature on pension legislation

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago FOP Lodge 7 President John Catanzara speaking to his members moments ago

For the last three years, we have been working very hard and intentionally to right a wrong from 2020 and get the 3% COLA passed and have parity with the fire department for the bare minimum compared to other pensions in this state. That was Senate Bill 1956. It passed the Senate. It was waiting to be called in the House.

Reality is, here’s where we’re at right now. Last week, the city reached out to us and made a request for the bill to be carried over into the veto session in the fall. The request was based on the fact that there was not a chief financial officer in place and they needed to wrap their head around the numbers, the commitments and everything else to present it properly in the fall budget.

We wanted to press forward. We worked very hard to get to where we’re at. The city realized that we had overwhelming support in both chambers, from both parties, actually, which was pretty unique, and that the bill was pretty much going to pass if it was called.

So that triggered some talks, and those talks developed into something even I think a little better in the long term here.

Not only do we have a pledge that Senate Bill 1956 is alive and well being will be called in the veto session. in week one for the 3 percent COLA.

There’ll be a second bill out of the House, 4098. That will include language for fixes for tier two, a DROP program and some other things encompassing a much broader repair to the pension issues that we’re facing here.

So we’re not going to keep piece-mealing these bills together, Assembly after Assembly. We’re going to try and get it all done in the veto session and have some at least pension clarity for the future, not only for our sake, but for the new administration.

So that’s where we’re at. The Speaker has pledged to call the bill. The supporters on both sides of the aisle have assurances that the bill will be called the first week in the veto session. And that that House bill, there will be a committee put together with police and fire to address the issues, and kind of work them all out together in one big piece of legislation and have that one also pass in the veto session.

Am I happy? I’m not gonna lie. No. We worked really hard to get where we’re at. But bigger picture is we have the ability to affect much broader potential legislation with much longer reaching consequences in the fall veto session.

If something happens between now and then, and those promises aren’t kept, well, we’re going to be having a very different conversation come November, I can assure you of that. Because we certainly expect people to hold their obligations.

The DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) program is explained here.

Nobody’s ever completely happy with compromises. But, if you’d told most people right before the election that FOP Lodge 7, the Johnson administration and both legislative chambers could all calmly pledge to work together to come up with some pension ideas, they might’ve thought you were nuts.

…Adding… Mayor Brandon Johnson…

Mayor Brandon Johnson today announced the formation of a working group to address Chicago’s municipal pension systems.

“As Mayor of Chicago, I am committed to protecting both the retirement security of working people, as well as the financial stability of our government so we can achieve our goal of investing in people and strengthening communities in every corner of the city,” said Mayor Johnson. “Together, with our state legislative partners in Springfield, I am establishing a working group to collaborate on finding a sustainable path forward to addressing existing gaps in the city’s four municipal pension systems (Firefighters, Police, Municipal, and Laborers). The working group’s mission is to find workable solutions with sustainable funding sources to ensure retirement security and taxpayer relief in the long term in time for the fall veto session.”

The working group will include state legislators, the city’s Budget Director, the city’s Chief Financial Officer, and representatives from the city’s various labor unions, including both the police and fire unions.


Planned Parenthood Illinois Action counts its wins

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) applauds the Illinois General Assembly for passing several key pieces of legislation related to abortion, gender-affirming care, and preventive health care. Thus far in 2023, the General Assembly passed seven significant measures aimed at protecting reproductive and sexual healthcare in Illinois.

“Because Illinois is a haven state in the Midwest for abortion and gender-affirming care, it’s critical the General Assembly continue its commitment to protecting and expanding access to reproductive and sexual health care.” said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of PPIA. “Thanks to the pro-choice champions in Springfield, the passage of these crucial bills solidifies our state’s ability to welcome and protect health care refugees forced to flee their home state for services as well as expand access for all Illinois residents. We look forward to Governor Pritzker signing these bills this summer.”

Spring session legislative milestones include:

    • SB 1909 – (Senator Celina Villanueva, Rep. Terra Costa Howard D-Glen Ellyn) amends the Consumer Protection and Deceptive Practices Act to prohibit limited services pregnancy centers (more commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers) from engaging in deceptive or fraudulent practices.

    • HB 3326 – (Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, Senator Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago) provides that law enforcement shall not sell or share automatic license plate reader data to any state for the purpose of investigating or enforcing a law that denies or interferes with a person’s right to choose or obtain reproductive health care services or any lawful health care services, or for an investigation of a person based on the person’s immigration status.

    • SB 1907 – (Senator Celina Villanueva, Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora) requires public colleges and universities, including community colleges, to make emergency contraception available on campus via a wellness kiosk or vending machine.

    • HB 2450 - (Senator Ram Villivalam D-Chicago, Rep. Dagmara Avelar D-Romeoville) requires cultural competency continuing education for health care providers in order to provide them with the tools and information they need to effectively and affirmingly serve communities of color, people with disabilities, people of diverse faiths, undocumented individuals, LGBTQ+ people, people living with HIV, intersex people, and other communities that have been marginalized in the health care system.

    • HB 4664 – (Senator Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago) provides legal protections for providers of and patients seeking reproductive and sexual health care, including abortion and gender-affirming care. It requires state-regulated health plans to cover abortion medications, PEP, and PrEP with no copay or deductible spend down, and creates a program for training health professionals in providing abortion care.

    • SB 1344 – (Senator Celina Villanueva, Rep. Kelly Cassidy) is a trailer to HB 4664 that makes corrections and clarifies that state-regulated health insurance must cover medications used off-label for abortion.

    • SB 1561 – (Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Senator Celina Villanueva) requires state-regulated health insurance to cover certain preventive health care services without a copay or deductible spend down including immunizations, mammograms, and other services listed in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. In addition, it clarifies that any preventive service designated for “men” or “women” company shall not deny or limit the coverage required or a claim based solely on the individual’s recorded sex or actual or perceived gender identity, or for the reason that the individual is gender nonconforming, intersex, transgender, or a has undergone or is in the process of undergoing gender transition.


Afternoon roundup

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller


Pritzker opposes fast-moving bill to hand Ameren a monopoly on building regional transmission lines

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The governor has rarely used his veto pen, but we might possibly see that happen if this bill reaches his desk. This language proposal was included as a late Senate amendment on HB3445, the energy omnibus yesterday. It’s now awaiting House concurrence

Illinois is only the latest in a string of states to consider “right of first refusal” bills pushed by incumbent utilities. The effort comes as investment in new transmission wires grows. Federal cash from the Inflation Reduction Act and actions by regional power-grid managers are leading to more spending on infrastructure to connect renewable power sources like wind farms in remote areas to population centers like Chicago.

Utilities, monopoly owners of local power grids, want to exert monopoly control, too, over the portions of interstate power lines within their service territories.

Advocates for competition say these laws will inflate costs of the projects, which could benefit from competitive bidding. Ultimately, ratepayers will cover those costs in their electric bills. Likewise, clean-energy advocates are concerned, worried that inflated costs of needed high-voltage connections will hold back renewable power development as rate shock leads to consumer pushback. […]

The sudden momentum didn’t emerge because of some newfound Ameren clout. Instead, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers moved yesterday to make passage of the Ameren bill a high priority in Illinois, sources say, with the international president based in Washington, D.C., making calls to Illinois lawmakers.

* These “right of first refusal” laws are popping up all over the place.

But, last August, the United States Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to allow this to happen

The FERC is considering reinstating the right of first refusal, or ROFR – which was eliminated in certain instances in 2011 – as long as incumbent transmission owners agree to a joint ownership structure with one or more unaffiliated, non-incumbent partners. FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on April 21, 2022. This could mean that the design and construction of certain transmission facilities is less competitive, resulting in higher prices or lower quality.

“We commend FERC for undertaking this rulemaking, which is aimed at encouraging needed regional transmission planning and construction,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “The rulemaking comes at a critical time, when the nation is undertaking major grid modernization efforts, and competition can make transmission design and construction less costly, more resilient, and more innovative for the American consumer. Thus, we urge FERC not to abandon competition, through the reinstatement of a federal right of first refusal, but to first evaluate the effects of its other proposals, which are consistent with competition, on achieving its goals.”

The full comment is here.

* We’re talking big bucks here. Energy Wire

The U.S. is on the cusp of a transmission boom, a high-voltage rewiring to enable the switch away from electricity generated with fossil fuel to a grid dominated by renewable energy and batteries. And the Midwest and Great Plains regions are poised for huge investments, said Sharon Segner, senior vice president of LS Power, a competitive energy developer.

Just in the Midwest, MISO approved $10.3 billion of new regional transmission last year to enable renewables and batteries to plug into the grid and boost reliability (Energywire, July 26, 2022). Another set of Midwest projects worth an estimated $24 billion could be approved next year. Ultimately, $100 billion of new high-voltage power lines could be approved across the grid operator’s 14-state territory this decade.

Since organized labor is backing the bill and organized labor gets just about whatever it wants at the Illinois Statehouse, and since it zoomed out of the Senate 41-9, you wouldn’t be wrong to expect that it will also fly out of the House. But 8 of the 9 “No” votes in the Senate were Democrats and several other SDems took a walk. Rank and file House Democrats are working to find the votes to stop it.

And the bill’s opponents have a major ally.

* From Gov. Pritzker’s office…

We oppose a measure that puts corporate profits over consumers.

They added that the bill would all but lock in rate increases for Ameren.

…Adding… From the AG’s office…

While we have not yet reviewed the language in detail, we echo comments issued by the Department of Justice and FTC, which state that the 2011 federal elimination of “Right of First Refusal” resulted in new benefits for consumers: lower rates, improved service and increased innovation.  We are concerned about the impact that of a right of first refusal will have on consumers, as a right of first refusal generally increases transmission costs.  Research has demonstrated that competitively-bid projects are typically more affordable, costing 40% less than projects that are not competitively bid.  We are concerned that right of first refusal stifles competition and discourages new entry to the market.  


AG Raoul pushes back against Cupich claims

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Associated Press

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich urged the Illinois attorney general on Thursday to provide information about newly uncovered cases of clergy sexual abuse that were included in a statewide investigative report, saying he would gladly add the names on his list of credibly accused priests if the claims were substantiated.

In his first interview since the report was released Tuesday, Cupich expressed surprise that the 125 new cases involved some priests he had never heard of. He voiced dismay that the attorney general’s office hadn’t forwarded the new claims to the Archdiocese of Chicago to look into, as it had done during the five-year investigation.

“We thought we had that kind of relationship with the attorney general and so are disappointed that we’re hearing these for the first time,” Cupich said. […]

Cupich said he would gladly add the names onto his list but needed information on how Raoul’s investigators substantiated the claims. Asked why it wasn’t sufficient for the church to accept cases that the attorney general’s office had substantiated, Cupich said the archdiocese just needed to understand the process.

* AG Raoul…

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today released the following statement expressing surprise and dismay at comments made by Cardinal Blase Cupich. In comments to the media, Cardinal Cupich claims to be have been unaware of names included in the Attorney General’s Report on Catholic Clergy Child Sex Abuse in Illinois, which was released May 23.

“I am surprised and dismayed by the cardinal’s claim in the media that he and the Archdiocese of Chicago ‘had never heard of’ the priests and religious brothers listed in the group of 125 substantiated child sex abusers named in the report my office issued this week. The cardinal’s statements, including that he needs information on how our investigators substantiated the claims, are particularly perplexing because many of those 125 names – 62 in fact – came directly from an archdiocese spreadsheet entitled, ‘Religious Order Clerics With a Substantiated Allegation of Sexual Abuse of Minors Who Served within the Archdiocese of Chicago.’

“As my office explained previously, all 451 listed clerics and brothers included in our report have been substantiated by a Catholic source, either by an Illinois diocese, a non-Illinois diocese or a religious order. And as our report explains, many of those allegations were substantiated after my office’s investigators presented evidence to church representatives one file at a time. In his comments to the media, Cardinal Cupich said that if the cases are substantiated, the names will be added to the archdiocese’s website. The archdiocese itself confirmed to my investigators that 62 of the 125 priests and religious brothers in question were substantiated child sex abusers who ministered in the Archdiocese of Chicago. I am calling on the archdiocese to immediately add at least those 62 names to its online list of substantiated child sex abusers.

“At best, the cardinal’s claims of being blindsided are misleading. At worst, they are more of the same, a continuation of the church’s decades-long pattern of turning a blind eye and covering up allegations of child sex abuse to the detriment of survivors. We released this report to give a voice to survivors and to shine light on the church officials who covered up child sex abuse in the church, allowing child sex predators to continue to abuse children who trusted them.

“Once he returns from his trip abroad, we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the cardinal regarding the remaining names on the list of 125 substantiated child sex abusers, which we previously addressed with archdiocese representatives.”


Budget react roundup

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Posted in the order of most recently received…

The Healthy Illinois Campaign believes that healthcare is a human right and will continue to work with our elected leaders until everyone is covered, regardless of age and regardless of immigration status.

We thank the Illinois General Assembly for defending and continuing coverage for all low-income state residents ages 42+. More than 50,000 Illinois immigrants will continue to receive life-changing and life-saving care. Safety-net healthcare providers will continue to be compensated for the care they provide. Our families and communities will be safer and healthier and our healthcare system will be stronger and more stable because Illinois continues to cover low-income residents.

Healthy Illinois will continue to advocate for the over 100,000 Illinoisans ages 19-41 who are still left without a pathway to health coverage. They are our neighbors and family members. They are essential workers, young parents, and people in need of reproductive healthcare.

Illinois made history in 2020 and set national precedent when we became the first state to expand coverage to low-income seniors regardless of immigration status. Next year, in 2024, we must pass coverage for all. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Healthy Illinois invites the General Assembly and Governor Pritzker to work with immigrant communities, advocates, and healthcare providers to continue to protect and expand coverage for all.

* Illinois Policy Institute…

The Illinois Senate passed a $50 billion budget that includes nearly $5,000 a year in raises for lawmakers, $50 million for new offices for themselves but nothing for the low-income students depending on Illinois’ only school choice program.

State senators approved the fiscal year 2024 budget package (Senate Bill 250 and House Bill 3817) late Thursday night, with the Illinois House of Representatives poised to approve it by early Saturday morning. It heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature afterwards.

Among the line items leaders are set to approve is a lawmaker pay hike to $89,675 a year salary from $85,000, and $50 million toward demolition and redesign of the Stratton Office Building. Notably absent in the package is any sort of extension of the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Act, which is set expire Dec. 31, 2023.

Matt Paprocki, president and CEO at the Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement:

“This budget is a travesty for thousands of working families who wanted better opportunities for their children. More than 9,000 kids rely on the Invest in Kids program to attend a school that best fits their needs and thousands more are still on a waiting list.

“With this budget, state leaders missed a huge opportunity to give relief and certainty to a vitally important, yet modest scholarship program supported by most Illinois voters.

“Harmon, Pritzker and Welch all sent their kids to private schools. But they left low-income Illinoisans on the chopping block because they care more about the political support of radical teachers union leadership than Illinois’ working families.

“We should be talking about extending this program and making it permanent in the fall.”

* Leader Curran…

Illinois Senate Republican Leader John Curran (R-Downers Grove) responds to passage of FY 24 Budget

“This budget isn’t just a spending plan, it’s a list of choices. The Democratic Majority chose to spend $600 million on free healthcare for non-citizen adults and asylum seekers in Chicago over fully-funding services for developmentally disabled Illinoisans and saving K-12 scholarships for low-income families.”

* Sen. DeWitte…

On Thursday night, the Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that spends over $50 billion. After receiving bipartisan opposition, State Senator Don DeWitte, who voted against the budget, issued the following statement:

“Republicans brought some very important priorities to the negotiation table this year. We wanted to support our manufacturers, our corporations, and the small businesses that provide jobs to millions of Illinoisans. Through our priorities we wanted to grow jobs in this state so people could earn a good wage, have benefits, and put good food on their tables. Unfortunately, our policy initiatives, like the elimination of the estate tax, which would help generational farming families, didn’t make the budget. Our Research & Development tax credits, which would provide opportunities for existing businesses to invest in new product development, so they could create more jobs with good wages and benefits, also wasn’t included. A thriving economy depends on a robust business community, and this budget misses the mark.

“There is not one legislator in the General Assembly who didn’t hear from mayors and other community leaders in their home districts asking for restoration of the Local Government Distributed Fund funds owed to them. This is tax revenue generated locally and sent to the state, and per a long-standing agreement, 10% of those funds are supposed to be returned to local units of government to help fund their budgets. While we made some progress, we didn’t go nearly far enough. The majority party continues to sweep nearly half of these funds for other state-level uses. Our municipalities deserved much better from this body.”

* Sen. Lewis…

On Thursday night, the Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that spends over $50 billion. After the 34 to 22 vote, State Senator Seth Lewis, who voted against the budget, issued the following statement:

“We live in a wonderful state with great potential, and we had an opportunity this year to collaborate on a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that reflects the priorities of the people and families that call Illinois home. Unfortunately, I could not support the budget because I felt it came up short in addressing issues my constituents have said are important to them. They just want safe streets, good schools, opportunities to be successful, and to know that our state’s most vulnerable citizens have the services they need.

“I saw glimpses of bipartisanship in this year’s budget process and that gives me hope for future budget discussions. The reinstatement of the Blue Collar Jobs Act was an important priority for Republicans, and I was pleased to see bipartisan support for bringing that important job-creating program back. But there is much more we could have done to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit and help our job creators build, grow and thrive in this state. Those conversations will continue.”

* Sen. Villa…

The Illinois Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which included key wins for education, health care and a home modification program. In response, State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) released the following statement:

“It is vital that we support the youth in our state in both their educational and mental development. Educational advancements would mean nothing if we weren’t also supporting our students as they grow, struggle and learn who they are. That is why I am pleased to see this budget not only increases funding to education but to mental and behavioral health services as well.

“There are many educational wins in this budget. Of this, I am glad to see $45 million going towards the first year of a three-year pilot program to fill teacher vacancies. There has been a massive strain on the educational workforce in our state, and this funding will help both teachers and students.

“As a former social worker, I know how important it is to pair education with mental health services. I am proud this budget will give over $22 million to begin implementing the new Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative. In addition to mental health care funding, I am excited to see this budget is also increasing funding to the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, who provide medical services to those who are uninsured or underinsured.

“Finally, I am eager to announce that $7.5 million dollars has been awarded to the Home Modification Program that I introduced to the Senate with Senate Bill 120. The program will offer financial assistance so people with disabilities may pay for home modifications to improve their living situations to assist them in day to day life, such as a stair lifts. This program will benefit seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Representative Maurice West, for introducing this program.

“My colleagues and I have worked diligently to provide our state with a budget that will provide something for everyone, and I was proud to see it pass today.”

* Sen. Chesney…

On Thursday night the Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2024 budget that spends over $50 billion. After the 34 to 22 vote, State Senator Andrew Chesney, who voted against the budget, issued the following statement:

“This is yet another out-of-touch budget filled with misplaced priorities that cater to the extremes of the Democratic base at the expense of vulnerable Illinois citizens. This irresponsible spending plan does plenty for illegal immigrants, not enough for Illinois citizens, and sets the taxpayers of Illinois up for a tax hike in the not-too-distant future. Democrats did make sure, however; that legislators will receive another pay increase next year.

“Illinois is fast becoming known as the state that can’t take care of its own citizens, but bends over backward to take care of people who are in this country illegally. From millions toward welcoming centers for illegal immigrants to likely over a billion in free healthcare for non-citizens, the majority party is certainly letting Illinois citizens know where their priorities lie.

“I am extremely disappointed that there was no line item in the budget or its supporting implementation document that removes the 2023 sunset of the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program. To date, over 30,000 scholarships have been handed out to children in failing schools, allowing them to improve their chances of academic success by going to a private or charter school. It’s an incredibly successful program that should continue. I am also disappointed to see the state is continuing with spending initiatives that cement Illinois’ position as the ‘abortion capitol of the United States.’”

* Sen. Simmons…

State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) issued the following statement after the Illinois Senate approved a Fiscal Year 2024 budget on Thursday:

“This budget provides first in a generation rate increases for hospitals, federally qualified health centers, community clinics, as well as provides rate increases for crisis response and critical support services. These across the board increases will be felt in our communities as our constituents broadly access health care. Our 7th District safety net hospitals will also receive significant funding boosts to support the delivery of quality health care while supporting our health care workers. I am also thrilled to have secured two new line items in the budget for a total of $2.5 million for HIV/AIDS reduction efforts targeted to helping communities access life-saving PREP medications as well as STI screening.

“And by passing $85 million in increased funding to support homelessness prevention, permanent supportive housing, and outreach to those in need, we also are making progress in getting our unhoused neighbors housed. This is huge — having worked to pass legislation to shore up protections for affordable housing residents in our state, I am happy to see this timely new funding. Additional funding to help with teacher vacancies, higher education access, and additional EBF funding for our public schools is also a win for our communities.

“More locally, our 7th District neighborhoods will see increased funding on a hyper-local level supporting street-level violence prevention and community safety, investments in early childcare facilities, culturally competent mental health care for LGBTQ+ communities, services for refugee communities, and new funding for enrichment and mentorship programs for 7th District youth. And we also secured additional capital dollars that we are investing directly in aging school buildings, cultural institutions, food pantries, and more right here in the 7th District.

“I am thrilled with the passage of today’s budget. It supports our communities while putting our state on a path to long-term fiscal health and stability. ”

* Majority Leader Lightford…

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) declared the state’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget a positive investment for our state’s children – prioritizing education, youth employment and mental health.

“A person’s educational success begins the day they are born. The quickest way to fail a generation is by failing to prioritize their education,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “In Illinois, I am proud to say we took a positive step toward ensuring our students aren’t failed by an unjust system.”

The budget – backed by Lightford – includes a $250 million investment into early childhood education. The funding will be used to expand preschool, stabilize the child care workforce, and provide more early intervention and home visiting programs.

Further, the budget includes additional MAP grant funding, ensuring everyone at or below the median income can go to community college free. This builds upon Lightford’s commitment to prioritize education from birth to college.

“As a General Assembly, we did what was right by the people of Illinois and fought for equitable funding and access to education,” said Lightford. “I was proud to vote for a budget that provides our youth with greater opportunities for success – from investing in early childhood education to ensuring higher education is more affordable and accessible.”

The budget also included investments into workforce development – particularly for teens and young adults. It passed the Senate Thursday.

* Senate President Harmon…

Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to pass a balanced budget:

“This budget continues the work Democrats have done to restore economic prosperity to our state. It encompasses our shared goals of responsible budgeting and paying down debt while investing in key priorities like education, violence prevention and affordable housing.

“This was a collaborative effort. I am proud of the work we did, and I look forward to the House sending this balanced budget to the governor so he can sign it into law.”

* Leader Sims…

Majority Caucus Appropriations Leader Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement after the Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget:

“In keeping with our commitment to the people of Illinois, we have approved a budget that is balanced, responsible and invests in people in all corners of our state.

“As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I set a goal that our budget would work to solve the pressing economic issues facing low- and middle-income families. Because of our responsible fiscal approach, particularly the last few years, our state continues to have fiscal stability while caring for the people of our state.

“I am particularly proud of our investments in education, business attraction and development, public safety and in efforts to address the social determinants of health. This budget provides our frontline workers and institutions with the resources they need to best serve our communities, while at the same time supporting public safety measures to keep our communities safe. This budget invests in mental health and trauma informed services while also strengthening investments in violence prevention programs.

“It also further continues to set our state on a path of fiscal responsibility and invests in education from preschool to college.

“This budget sets us up for short- and long-term success and I remain committed to economically advancing the state of Illinois.”

* Illinois Municipal League…

“The Local Government Distributive Fund is an important tool to help Illinois cities, villages and towns pay for services like mandated pension benefits, critical infrastructure repairs, public safety and other important programs. We are pleased that the General Assembly recognizes the importance of LGDF to Illinois communities, and has chosen to increase the LGDF rate from 6.16% to 6.47%. We appreciate the increase and we are hopeful that LGDF will be put on a more rapid path to full restoration of 10% of the state’s total income tax revenue. The Illinois Municipal League will continue to advocate on this issue until LGDF is fully restored,” said IML Executive Director Brad Cole.

* IMA…

“A skilled, educated workforce is critical to the future of the manufacturing industry in Illinois, which is the largest contributor of any sector to the state’s Gross Domestic Product. We are encouraged by the additional investments in education, which will help to better prepare students for the high-tech, advanced manufacturing jobs that will grow our economy and move our state and nation forward,” said Mark Denzler, President & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “We proudly partnered with the Governor’s office and legislative leaders in securing $400 million to close major economic development deals and attract businesses to the Land of Lincoln, as well as expand programs to strengthen our state’s electric vehicle and clean energy ecosystem. These initiatives, along with the reinstatement of the Blue Collar Jobs Act and continued elimination of the franchise tax, will further aid economic development across the state, and we look forward to building on these efforts in the coming years.”

* Gov. Pritzker…

Following the Senate passage of the FY24 budget agreement, Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement:

“My thanks to President Harmon, Leader Elgie Sims, and all the members of the Senate who voted today to advance our fifth balanced budget. This budget makes transformative investments in the children and families of Illinois while building on our record of fiscal responsibility. I look forward to the House taking up this budget that will make childcare and education more accessible, healthcare more affordable, and our state’s business and economic position even stronger.”

* Sen. Holmes…

Illinois has seen four straight years of balanced budgets, paid down debt and received eight upgrades from credit rating agencies. Today, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2024 budget that prioritizes education, public safety, job creation and business development, and health and human services. Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) released the following statement in response to today’s action:

“This budget is balanced and responsible. We’re making the annual full pension payment, with an additional $200 million — the first time since the plan was enacted in 1994 that the state will provide contributions above what is required.

“The focus on fiscal strength continues: this budget would pay off COVID-related debt, pay off over $4 million of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund advance and put over $1.9 billion into the Rainy Day Fund.

“The Local Government Distributive Fund will see an increase, and Monetary Award Program (MAP) Grant funding is increased by $100 million for prospective college students. $20 million will go to the Fast-Track Workforce program to provide employee screening, recruitment and job training development to employers.

“I’m particularly pleased to see us make significant funding increases for public safety and law enforcement activities, as well as domestic violence programs. Making Illinois a safer place to live and work is fundamental so that our improved economy is a comfortable place to enjoy life with fewer security concerns.”

* And from Wednesday…

Few details are available about the budget agreement Governor JB Pritzker and the Democratic leaders have proposed without any Republican input but there is no question Illinois is again setting another spending record, according to the Illinois Freedom Caucus.

“Repeating the words ‘balanced budget’ over and over again does little to assure us the budget is indeed balanced. Furthermore, ‘balanced’ is not a synonym for responsible. The final budget that is likely going to pass will set yet another spending record in Illinois. Creating new programs and new line items in the budget does nothing to address the long-term budgetary issues facing our state. We are not addressing pension reform. There won’t be any meaningful property tax reforms and there won’t be any accountability measures in this budget to ensure taxpayers’ dollars are being spent wisely.

The budget process took place in a shroud of secrecy with no Republican involvement whatsoever. The process and the end product will be nothing more than the usual bloated budget that puts the needs of political insiders ahead of the best interests of the people. It is taxpayer money we are spending. The budget process should be a transparent and open process. Even rank and file Democrats had little say in this process. The people of Illinois deserve better than the corruption and lack of transparency in the budget process.”


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Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Question of the day

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The House adjourned at about 1 o’clock this morning. The Senate finished its business and went home at about 1:30. That’s two late session nights in a row and the House won’t be back in session until 5 o’clock this afternoon, so prepare for another late one.

I’ve given Isabel the morning off. I’ll probably take some time off today, too, but I need to get another subscriber post up first and I may do some other stuff for everyone.

In the meantime, you have the live coverage post, the end of session “cheat sheet,” the news feeds on the other side of the blog, Isabel’s morning briefing, last night’s coverage and the open thread to keep you informed and entertained.

You’ll also have this:

* The Question: Your one-word description of the past two weeks? One real word only, please. It’s a lot more fun if you play by the rules.


2023 end of spring session cheat sheet

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* House Second Reading…

* Senate Third Reading…

* House Concurrence…

* Passed both chambers…


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Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Open thread

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Good morning! What’s going on?…


Isabel’s morning briefing

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Here you go…


Live coverage

Friday, May 26, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* End of session coverage roundup
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* Not a fake headline: Chicago FOP President describes working collaboratively with Chicago's mayor, legislature on pension legislation
* Planned Parenthood Illinois Action counts its wins
* Afternoon roundup
* Pritzker opposes fast-moving bill to hand Ameren a monopoly on building regional transmission lines
* AG Raoul pushes back against Cupich claims
* Budget react roundup
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Medicaid; Budget; Invest in Kids; Sims; BIMP; CPS
* Question of the day
* 2023 end of spring session cheat sheet
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

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