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Speaker Welch on White Sox, no city ask on migrant funding, plus thoughts on sub-minimum wage, Israel and MJM

Friday, Feb 9, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Fran Spielman at the Sun-Times

Pretty pictures and rosy financial forecasts have piqued interest in building a new White Sox ballpark in the South Loop, but it’s time to put some meat on the bone and talk about how to pay for it.

That was the bottom line Thursday from Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a key player in determining if the dazzling renderings released by developer Related Midwest turn into reality or remain a pipe dream.

“I would love to know how they’re planning to pay for it. I look forward to hearing that from the developers. I imagine they’re taking it step-by-step. They want to make sure there is an appetite for it,” Welch told the Sun-Times.

* More from Spielman’s interview

Spielman: Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first budget includes just $150 million for the migrant crisis that will run out in April … What is the mayor asking you to do and what are the chances he’ll be successful in getting more migrant money?

Welch: I have not received an ask from the mayor of Chicago regarding migrants. You know, it is the second week of session and I have not heard from the city of Chicago with an ask as of yet. Will one come? I’m pretty sure, but we have not received been asked yet.

Please pardon all transcription errors.

* Sub-minimum wage

Spielman: There is a new drive to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers statewide just as Brandon Johnson progressive majority did in Chicago. Is that going anywhere?

Welch: You know it’s early on. I don’t know the answer to that, Fran. It’s so early. I don’t like to get ahead of the process. I had committees scheduled this week, but most of the House committees were cancelled. So we haven’t had any real substantive hearings on anything yet. We want the committee process to work. We want to vet bills, give people an opportunity to testify in hearings and hear the pros and cons. We want to hear the governor’s budget address and whether or not he has a position on that. You want to hear from those that have stakes in the budget and see how we can balance these things as we come towards the end here.

Spielman: Do you support eliminating that sub-minimum wage?

Welch: Again, I’m gonna not get ahead of the process. If I state a position on an issue, you know that could tip the scale. I want to let the process work. I want to hear the testimony in committees. Typically what I do after bills come out of committee, I will give my staff a list of bills that I want to jump on as co sponsors, bills that I want to vote for yes or no. And so I think this is no different. I want to let the process work. And at some point, I’m going to let my staff know whether I want to co-sponsor it, whether I want to vote for it. But we’re not at that point yet.

* Asked whether he would run any sort of House resolution on the war in Israel, as Mayor Johnson just did, Welch had this to say

I mean, we have a job to do here in the state of Illinois. I think it’s extremely important that we stay focused on what we have to do here. We have a big budget ahead of us. Budgets are never easy to land … That’s what we’re focused on, the things that here in the legislature that we can control. And we you know, we’re gonna get the job done like we’ve done the last five years in a big way, that has led to credit upgrades. And I just want to stay focused on the things that we can control here in Springfield.

* And then there was this

Spielman: Have you talked to your mentor Mike Madigan recently? Do you seek his sage advice when it comes to legislative issues?

Welch: [Laughs] I have not spoken to Speaker Madigan in a couple of years. It’s been some time since I last spoke to the speaker.

Spielman: Why not seek his advice?

Welch: I actually have sought advice from speakers all across the country. As I sit here today talking with you. There are seven Black speakers, we’re all first in our respective states. We use each other as sources, you know, to rely on to help. Because this is a difficult job. And so I have used some of my colleagues that are currently speakers dealing with diverse caucuses like I have, that have similar populations that we have in their respective states. And so I’ve been able to rely on my colleagues who are current speakers.



  1. - High Socks - Friday, Feb 9, 24 @ 2:10 pm:

    Lame attempt at a cheap shot. Welch handled it well.

  2. - Lincoln Lad - Friday, Feb 9, 24 @ 2:32 pm:

    Well done Mr. Speaker. Ready for prime time.

  3. - Da big bad wolf - Friday, Feb 9, 24 @ 2:41 pm:

    === Lame attempt at a cheap shot. Welch handled it well.===

    Agree.What was Fran Spielman looking for?

    Even though I’m sure Madigan has gobs of institutional knowledge, it seems like she was purposely trying to embarrass Welch.

  4. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Feb 9, 24 @ 2:45 pm:

    - Lame attempt at a cheap shot. -

    It’s a fair question, and he did handle it well.

  5. - Friday Addams - Friday, Feb 9, 24 @ 2:45 pm:

    Spielman: Why not seek his advice?

    Fantasy League Welch: I don’t know, Fran, when was the last time you talked to Conrad Black?

  6. - Macon Bakin - Friday, Feb 9, 24 @ 4:11 pm:

    The question could not be more fair, Welch chaired the house Madigan investigation committee.

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