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Afternoon roundup

Tuesday, Aug 22, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the Auditor General

The Illinois Office of Comptroller prepares the State of Illinois’ Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report is the State’s official annual report, which provides the readers with the financial position of the State as of June 30, 2022, and its results of operations during the fiscal year. […]

The GAAP basis financial position of the General Fund improved at June 30, 2022, from June 30, 2021. The fund balance in the State’s General Fund improved by $4.6 billion on a GAAP basis. The June 30, 2022, balance was $1.5 billion. Exhibit 2 reflects the General Fund balance for Fiscal Years 2015 through 2022.

…Adding… From the governor’s office…

The last time we had a surplus on the general fund was 1985, and it was only $19 million.


Exhibit 2

* Cook County receives an upgrade…

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today applauded Moody’s Investors Service upgrading Cook County’s bond rating from A2 to A1. This marks the second ratings upgrade in less than two years.

“We are incredibly proud of Moody’s Investors Service’s decision today to upgrade Cook County’s bond rating from A2 to A1. This step shows once again that we are on the right track and our efforts to create long-term fiscal stability are being rightfully recognized,” said President Preckwinkle. “Today’s recognition is proof of concept that local governments can both invest in our communities and remain responsible stewards of our residents’ tax dollars.”

Moody’s noted the upgrade to A1 reflects the County’s accumulation of sound reserves and considers pension reform legislation recently signed by Governor JB Pritzker. Improved financial operations have been driven by a willingness and ability to raise revenue, robust growth in sales tax receipts, operational improvements and an influx of federal aid.

* This prediction may very well turn out to be accurate, but excuses won’t be enough come convention time. The White House really needs to step up its act, including the source of much of the problem: Venezuela itself. Fran Spielman

Chicago could experience a fivefold increase in arriving migrants — up to 10 busloads a day — sent here by Republican governors trying to embarrass and strain Democratic sanctuary cities in the run-up to the 2024 Democratic National Convention, a top mayoral aide said Monday.

Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s deputy chief of staff, predicted the burgeoning crisis that has seen more than 13,000 migrants descend on the city over the last year will intensify the closer it gets to the Chicago convention next August.

In the last week alone, the number of new arrivals sleeping on the floors of Chicago police stations has increased 6% to 1,100, even though Johnson has made it a priority to “decompress” police stations. Another 170 new arrivals have taken up residence at O’Hare International Airport.

There is $150 million in migrant funding that “the feds have not appropriated,” and City Hall is “trying to make the case that we should be getting a large chunk of that because we have not closed our doors, and we are forecasting for next year with the DNC,” Pacione-Zayas said.

“We have to plan for the increase. They’re gonna do everything they can because this is all political, and they want to make the case that Democratic-led cities are not capable of living up to the values that we have … You know how it works in campaigns. That’s all that’s motivating this,” the deputy chief of staff said.

“We’re already getting two buses a day … New York has been getting 10 buses” per day, she said, adding, “I wouldn’t be surprised” if Chicago also started getting 10 per day.

“They want to stretch our resources. They want to basically topple our operation. Then they can make the case that Democratic-led states are not fit. That they’re incompetent. It draws the contrast. Then, they seem to come off in a way that they’re righteous and they’ve always said, ‘This is impossible work, and we have no business doing it,’” Pacione-Zayas said.

* Staying on politics, here’s the NRCC…

Hey Rich,

As mentioned via text, the NRCC is launching a national ad campaign targeting 21 vulnerable House Democrats regarding increasing gas prices.

Included in the campaign is Eric Sorensen.

Please consider the following quote as well:

“Rising gas prices are a fresh gut punch to millions of Americans already struggling under Bidenomics,” said NRCC Communications Director Jack Pandol. “Every trip to the pump is a reminder that extreme House Democrats put their radical war on American energy ahead of working families’ wallets.”

It’s a five-figure buy across 21 districts…

* Tollway news…

The Illinois Tollway is launching around-the-clock Hot Weather Patrols to more quickly locate and assist customers stranded along its roads during the dangerously high temperatures and humidity expected to continue through Thursday.

The Illinois Tollway typically operates special Hot Weather Patrols whenever temperatures or heat indexes indicate conditions could be hazardous for stranded drivers. The 24-hour patrols search for drivers stranded in disabled vehicles and respond to calls that come in to *999 motorist assistance, Illinois Tollway dispatch or Illinois State Police Troop 15.

* From the Office of the Executive Inspector General…

The OEIG received a complaint that an Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) employee had listed on an employment application that he had graduated from high school when he had not done so. The OEIG obtained four separate employment applications for the employee dated August 27, 2013, October 27, 2013, March 12, 2015, and June 25, 2017 (for different positions). All of these applications in the employee’s name were marked with a handwritten “X” in the “Yes” box in response to the question “High School Graduate?” During his OEIG interviews, the employee said he had not graduated from high school, nor had he passed the General Educational Development test. The employee admitted that the applications were his and that the signature and handwriting on the applications were his. The employee was terminated as a result of the investigation.

Seems a bit harsh. More here.

* UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones sat down for an interview with the News-Gazette. Here’s the first part of his answer to a mascot question

Well, let me just say that, I think people maybe lost sight of the whole underlying core principle around a mascot. I’ve had to contend with this during the whole seven years that I’ve been chancellor.

Our core principle has been around inappropriate use of Native American imagery. That’s always what it has been about for us, not whether they have a mascot or not. To me, that’s secondary to the fact that it is highly inappropriate, from where I sit and where most of my colleagues sit, to use Native American imagery in the way that we have historically used it.

There have been NCAA rules about that, and we moved away from that 20-some years ago, but there still persist images.

People expect me to be the fashion police. I’m not the fashion police. I can’t tell people what to wear, and I won’t spend my time trying to reprimand folks for wearing whatever they feel like. But that does not mean that our core principles don’t remain the same, that Native American imagery has no place as a part of intercollegiate athletics here at the university. That’s full stop. That’s the core principle.

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Crain’s | Glendale Heights hospital ending birthing services — joining a national trend: In its filing, Glen Oaks argues that the planned closure of the primary obstetrics unit, services from which are already suspended, will have minimal impact on access to birthing services in the area because they are still available at nearby hospitals. The closest available sites for full-range obstetrics services are eight miles away at Northwestern Medicine’s Central DuPage Hospital and about nine miles away at Ascension Alexian Brothers in Elk Grove Village, which has a 28-bed obstetrics unit, according to the filing.

    * Sun-Times | Johnson OKs deal to raise tax on high-end home sales, use funds to combat homelessness: Mayor Brandon Johnson has signed off on a compromise plan to raise the real estate transfer tax on high-end home sales to generate $100 million in annual revenue to combat homelessness, but in a way that will reduce the tax for homes sold for less than $1 million. Zoning Committee Chair Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, predicted that the 11th-hour concessions would minimize opposition from Chicago developers and guarantee City Council approval of a binding referendum on the March ballot. He also predicted overwhelming voter approval. … Properties sold for under $1 million that currently account for 94% of all sales will see a decrease in the real estate transaction tax owed. The new tax rate would be 0.60%, down from the current rate of 0.75% — a 20% cut. Sales of $1 million or over, but under $1.5 million, will pay a 2% tax — more than 21⁄2 times what they pay now. And sales of $1.5 million and higher will pay 3%, which is four times the current rate.

    * Bond Buyer | Illinois defies Midwest’s downward issuance trend: Municipal bond issuers in the Midwest largely tracked their national peers in the first half of 2023, with volume down 19.4% compared to the first half of 2022. They sold $32.6 billion of debt spread over 1,223 deals in the first half, down from $40.5 billion in 1,764 deals in the year-ago period, according to Refinitiv data. Nationally, municipal bond volume was down 17.1% to $180.8 billion.

    * Crain’s | Despite years of affirmative action, Black student enrollment percentages remain low at local universities: A Crain’s analysis of changes in enrollment demographics at six area schools since 2012 shows modest increases in the percentage of Black students at some and declines at others. During the same time frame, Asian and Hispanic numbers rose, while the share of white students fell.

    * 21st Show | Freedom Caucus Member Rep. Adam Niemerg on the Illinois Republican Party in 2023: On the eve of the first Republican presidential primary debate of the 2024 election cycle, we delve into the party’s rebuilding phase here in Illinois. We hear from a representative from the Illinois Freedom Caucus. Join us as we explore what voters want from the modern-day party, how Illinois Republicans negotiate with a Democratic majority on the state floor, and the Freedom Caucus’s future role in the party.

    * Our Quad Cities | Quad City area towns receive water infrastructure loans from Illinois EPA: Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Director John J. Kim has announced that more than $571 million in water infrastructure loans will be provided to local governments and water districts for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023. The Illinois EPA State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program provides low-interest loans to fund wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects. Over $53 million in loan forgiveness will be provided to recipients who meet the loan rules for either the Small Community Rate or Hardship Rate. Illinois EPA issued over $803 million in low-interest loans for water infrastructure in total for fiscal year 2023. Illinois provided nearly $54 million in funding for lead service line replacement over the last 12 months, in addition to the SRF loans.

    * Daily Herald | How suburban school districts are dealing with extreme heat this week: Downers Grove School District 58 postponed the start of classes from Wednesday to Friday. “Unfortunately, our classrooms and most areas of our schools are not equipped with air conditioning nor modern HVAC systems,” Superintendent Kevin Russell told parents in a message Monday. “By postponing the start of school by two days, we aim to provide a more favorable environment for effective teaching and learning.”

    * Tribune | Field Museum researchers enlist hundreds of home gardeners in fight to save the iconic monarch butterfly: The gardeners, who range from beginners with one milkweed plant to veterans with hundreds, have collected detailed data on monarchs, eggs and caterpillars in their yards, decks, community gardens and balconies — contributing up to 1,800 records each summer.

    * WCBU | Copi in the spotlight at Illinois State Fair as fish’s popularity as a food source increases: Copi, the Midwest waterways nuisance fish formerly known as Asian carp, is enjoying a surge in popularity as a human food source in the United States. Don’t believe it? Just ask Brian Schoenung, an aquatic nuisance species expert for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Schoenung has tracked the habitat-destroying “silverfish” since well before IDNR’s June 2022 rebranding of Asian carp as “Copi,” which is short for “copious” and an adequate description of the invasive, habitat-destroying fish whose presence is threatening crucial food sources for sportfish in Midwestern waterways

    * AP | From MLK to today, the March on Washington highlights the evolution of activism by Black churches: “The issues are multiracial. It’s too simplistic now to say, “Black church/white church,’” said the Rev. William Barber, who in 2018 became co-chair of a national anti-poverty initiative called The Poor People’s Campaign. It took its name from a movement launched by King and other SCLC leaders in 1968 shortly before King’s assassination. Barber, now director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School, admires King immensely yet is critical of those who “water down the March on Washington to one man, one speech.”

    * SJ-R | Springfield man punches ticket to World Championship Chili Cook-off on fair’s last day: Les Eastep of Springfield said Sunday at the Illinois State Fair Chili Cookoff that he was hanging it up as far as competitive cooking. But by virtue of his first-place finish in the homestyle category on the final day of the fair, Eastep, 86, was guaranteed a spot in the World Championship Chili Cook-off in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2024.


  1. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 3:12 pm:

    Mayor Brandon’s “soak the rich”, real estate proposal looks simple on paper. But the market will automatically correct and the prices of homes over 1, or 1.5 million will correct down. What buyer would knowingly pay $20K or 30K extra when they move? Highland Park, Wilmette… will benefit from more high-end home buyers.

  2. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 3:29 pm:

    CAFR -

    Congratulations all around. A $16.1 Billion improvement in 5 years. Nothing to sneeze at.

  3. - Nadigam - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 3:44 pm:

    This referendum for the real estate transfer tax could get any more “Chicsgo Way”. Cut taxes on 94% and raise taxes on the rich. The City Council then gets to hide behind the results when they vote on the particulars. “But…but…but it want us they raised the taxes”

  4. - sal-says - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 3:48 pm:

    == 21st Show | Freedom Caucus Member Rep. Adam Niemerg on the Illinois Republican Party in 2023. ==

    So if the IL freedom caucus is related to/connect with the congressional one, I say no thanks.

    The congessional one wants to shut the govt down to get their own way. Damn negotiation.

    So: No Thanks.

  5. - sal-says - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 3:50 pm:

    == WCBU | Copi in the spotlight at Illinois State Fair as fish’s popularity as a food source increases. ==

    What does it taste like from you lucky IL State Fair visitors ?

  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 3:51 pm:

    ===What does it taste like from you lucky IL State Fair visitors ? ===

    They had signs everywhere. I stuck with pork burgers and corn dogs and places at the village of ethnicity, or whatever it’s called now.

  7. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 4:23 pm:

    ==“Rising gas prices are a fresh gut punch to millions of Americans already struggling under Bidenomics,”==

    So, does this mean the Republicans want to implement price controls or maybe even nationalize the oil & gas industry?

    The DCCC might be able to flip this and paint the Republicans as anti-free market. (Why do the Republicans hate freedom?)

  8. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 4:39 pm:

    Re the immigrants. A Modest Proposal - arrest the drivers and impound the buses. That’ll put an end to this right quick.

  9. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 5:26 pm:

    === A $16.1 Billion improvement in 5 years. Nothing to sneeze at. ===

    Yeah, i heard Republicans complaining not too long ago that Illinois doesnt have a back-to-school sales tax holiday this year.

    Getting rid of gimmicky tax breaks and hairbrained spending initiatives is how you turn around $16B in five years.

  10. - The Truth - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 6:29 pm:

    So, does this mean the Republicans want to implement price controls or maybe even nationalize the oil & gas industry?

    Sorensen might be feeling pretty good if that’s the best shot they have on him.

  11. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 6:34 pm:

    CAFR- That is really spectacular considering Illinois track record. This governor really has things going well.

    =Re the immigrants. A Modest Proposal - arrest the drivers and impound the buses. That’ll put an end to this right quick.=

    Maybe we have something to send to Texas and Florida? I will take freedom seeking immigrants everyday and we can send them our those convicted of gun related offenses including murder. It would be a two fer- punish the criminals by making them live in Florida or Texas and get them out of Illinois replaced with people who will work hard and be good citizens.

  12. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Aug 22, 23 @ 7:05 pm:

    “Yeah, i heard Republicans complaining not too long ago that Illinois doesnt have … .”

    Love how IL GOP complains about Illinois’ higher gas taxes … and don’t acknowledge the tolls / GRF injection & local property taxes on vehicles / multi-decade foreign funded toll roads in OK / MO / IN … .

  13. - historic66 - Wednesday, Aug 23, 23 @ 6:43 am:

    ===multi-decade foreign funded toll roads in OK / MO / IN===

    What toll roads does Missouri have? I can’t seem to locate any.

  14. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Aug 23, 23 @ 9:39 am:

    OK has toll roads, MO is using their GRF “surplus” to fund the rebuild / expansion of I-70, and IN is using, in part, foreign toll road operations to connect Evansville & Bloomington to Indianapolis via I-69.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* It’s just a bill
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
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