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Isabel’s afternoon roundup (Updated)

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

…Adding… Press release…

Gov. Pritzker Announces Successful $1.8 Billion State Bond Sale

With this sale, spreads have decreased approximately 100 basis points since Gov. Pritzker took office

CHICAGO- Today, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the State of Illinois has sold two series of General Obligation Bonds totaling $1.8 billion to provide funding for capital projects, including projects authorized under the Rebuild Illinois capital program and for accelerated pension payments pursuant to the state’s ongoing pension buyout program.

“Once again, continued fiscal responsibility and discipline have paid off in a big way for the state of Illinois, funding essential state infrastructure programs and reducing pension obligation costs,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “The market has recognized that Illinois is no longer a mismanaged, unreliable state to do business with. We are now seen as a constantly growing and expanding economy benefitting from saving, investing, and shepherding taxpayer dollars responsibly.”

“After nine credit upgrades, the State of Illinois received tremendous feedback from the bond market today, and especially from retail investors, who came in at ​ approximately $1.5 billion in orders given the stronger ratings,” said Paul Chatalas, Director of Capital Markets for the State of Illinois. “Based on this very strong demand, the State accelerated its pricing to capture positive momentum and received more than $12 billion in overall orders from 150 accounts. The final result showed some of the tightest credit spreads the State has received in recent history and a notably expanded base of investors who have shown that the State’s tremendous fiscal progress are already paying off for the citizens of Illinois.”

* WCIA

The United States Postal Service announced Tuesday it will be moving forward with a plan to consolidate the Processing and Distribution Center in Springfield.

Now, all outgoing mail processing operations that were done at the Springfield location will be moved to the St. Louis P&DC. The Springfield facility will remain open as a Local Processing Center.

The USPS says this decision will help optimize their services in Central Illinois. The agency said it will invest up to $6.1 million in the Springfield LPC, and no career employee layoffs will happen because of the change.

The proposed change to relocate some services in Springfield is a part of USPS’s “Delivering For America” 10-year strategic plan.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza…

I am very disappointed to learn the USPS has approved a plan to convert the Springfield Post Office into a local processing center and move distribution out-of-state to St. Louis. This ill-advised decision leaves Illinois’ state capital without a distribution center for state payments.

Last week I sent a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, expressing my concerns that vital payments to home health care and childcare providers, state vendors, emergency child support and even tax refunds could be delayed. For many, receiving these payments even one day late can cause serious hardship. It is unfortunate these very real concerns were not addressed.

I requested an impact analysis of this proposal to ensure payments would not be delayed under the new system, as I am not convinced reducing the job of the Springfield Post Office and sending mail out-of-state, only to be sent back to addresses in Illinois will be more efficient. Regrettably, the opposite is more likely to be true.

How can anyone argue with a straight face that sending our mail – two-thirds of which is bound for Northern Illinois – 100 miles south to St. Louis before it can be shipped back north again will not delay delivery to Illinois residents?

My office sends out about 11,000 checks a day, or 3 million a year, to locations around the state, and it’s imperative they arrive on-time. U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy should focus on improving service and efficiencies, rather than encumbering Illinois residents with further delays. He should reverse course. I will continue to work with the Illinois Congressional Delegation on this matter.

*** Statehouse News ***

* Chronicle | Greenwood’s early cash influx outpaces Schmidt in 114th state House race: While money doesn’t guarantee political success, the lack of it all but guarantees failure. In 2022, Schmidt raised $131,000, with $22,000 coming from a loan from himself. He also received $57,000 in in-kind help, $42,000 of it from Republican political committees. […] On March 18, the Greenwood campaign received $61,000 from the Illinois Laborers’ Legislative Committee as part of $74,400 from 10 PACs, most of it union money.  She also received $13,800 from Chicagoans Michael and Cari Sacks. Michael Sacks is chairman and CEO of Chicago-based GCM Grosvenor, a board member of the Barack Obama Foundation, and a member of two advisory boards to Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnston. 

* Scott Holland | Truck fee proposal gives local governments options from the start: These thoughts surfaced while reading Bob Okon’s Herald-News report about Senate Bill 2784. State Sen. Rachel Ventura, D-Joliet, filed the plan to let municipal and county governments impose fees – from 50 cents to $8 – on each loaded semitrailer leaving an intermodal facility. She said the bill could raise $38 million a year for road repairs in the Joliet area. […] Imagine if there had never been a statewide grocery tax. Would someone like Rock Island’s Mike Halpin, another first-term Democratic senator, propose allowing local governments to enact a 1% tax on grocery sales? Backers could say it would raise up to $252 million to fund things like police and fire protection. State lawmakers wouldn’t be creating the tax, only the conditions for local officials to take those steps. […] One other thing to appreciate about SB 2784 is how it checks the “scalable solutions” box. As introduced, the plan applied only to trucks leaving yards of at least 3,500 acres, specifically facilities in Joliet and Elwood. Under a proposed amendment, it would apply to smaller facilities around the state.

*** Statewide ***

* Sun-Times | Illinois ended cash bail more than 6 months ago. Data shows early signs of success: Cook County Judge Charles Beach has presided over hundreds of pretrial hearings since Illinois became the first state in the nation to eliminate cash bail last fall. Despite all the anguish over the Pretrial Safety Act, Beach says he has been struck by how proceedings have significantly changed for the better in his courtroom. […] “There’s a sense in the courtroom that taking money out of the equation has leveled the playing field,” Beach said.

* WJBC | Illinois saw massive increase in tourism in 2023: Illinois saw 39% more international tourists in 2023 compared to the previous year, according to an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity news release. Roughly 2.16 million were welcomed into the Land of Lincoln, brining with them nearly $2.7 billion into the Illinois economy.

*** Chicago ***

* Sun-Times | 3 Chicago-area buildings are among state’s most at-risk historic locations: Portage Theater, located in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood, was one of those listed. The theater, completed in 1920, has been closed since 2018 and needs updates and repairs. […] “Restoring the historic Portage Theater would be the icing on the cake amid a real estate resurgence at Six Corners,” said Amie Zander, managing director for the Six Corners Association, an economic development organization focused on the neighborhood.

* Block Club | Billy Goat Tavern Bringing Its Cheezborgers To Wrigleyville: Billy Goat Tavern is set to open its ninth Chicago-area location later this month at 3726 N. Clark St. in the former Full Shilling Public House. Although restaurant ownership has not announced an official opening date, Ana Luna, an assistant manager at the Billy Goat Tavern at 60 E. Lake Street, said the Wrigleyville location will be “opening soon.”

* Sun-Times | Steve Albini, legendary rock underground pioneer, dies at 61: Steve Albini, the legendary studio sound engineer and artist who produced albums for Nirvana, the Pixies, Jesus Lizard, PJ Harvey and countless other icons of the indie rock underground has died. He was 61. […] For more than three decades, Albini made his musical magic happen at his Electrical Audio on Belmont Avenue, recording thousands of artists from across the city and across the globe.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Naperville Sun | Gun arrest No. 18 since August made at Naperville Topgolf parking lot: Joshua Passafiume, 25 of Coal City, was arrested Monday night outside the 3211 Odyssey Court business on a charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. His arraignment is scheduled for May 21, according to DuPage County Circuit Court records online. […] According to Naperville police Cmdr. Rick Krakow, officers were walking the lot on foot when they allegedly observed a firearm in plain view inside a Jeep. When Passafiume and another person returned to the Jeep, they asked them to exit and the observed firearm was recovered, he said.

*** Downstate ***

* WIFR | Stellantis reassures Belvidere the assembly plant will re-open: Morris adds there is no set deadline on when activity will pick up on Chrysler Drive, but he expects progress to start soon. […] In a statement from Stellantis, the manufacturing company says, “During the 2023 UAW contract negotiations, Stellantis remained true to our commitment to finding a sustainable solution for the Belvidere Assembly Plant. We are continuing to work toward finalizing the business case for Belvidere and will provide additional details at the appropriate time.”

* WGLT | Normal mayor floats loan interest rate buydown program to address housing shortage: Normal Mayor Chris Koos has moved slightly off of his generally free market stance on development projects that could reduce the community housing shortage for mid-tier workers. Koos, speaking on WGLT’s Sound Ideas, said he’s now thinking about low interest buydowns of loans to get housing projects started, if a project meets the needs of the town for workforce housing. Such buydowns can lower the effective interest rate for financing used to put up apartment buildings.

* STLPR | Mothers who need breast milk for their babies can turn to O’Fallon, Illinois dispensary: A newly opened dispensary at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, Illinois, is offering donated milk to families in the Metro East who need breast milk for their babies. The hospital opened the dispensary after a lactation nurse found many of her patients were having trouble breastfeeding but didn’t know where to find donor milk in the region, said Amanda Schaefer, the manager of the hospital’s women and infants center.

*** National ***

* Crain’s | As pro sports teams seek larger stadium subsidies, some cities are pushing back: Pritzker isn’t alone. With many professional sports teams seeking public funding for new or renovated stadiums, voters and politicians in cities such as Kansas City, Washington D.C., Phoenix and, yes, Chicago are pushing back. […] Last week, the influential NFL website Pro Football Talk ran a story headlined, “The ship might be sailing on taxpayer money for NFL stadiums,” noting that while voters have always opposed taxpayer-funded stadium subsidies, “It’s becoming more clear that the elected officials are becoming less inclined to burn political capital by giving public funds to privately-owned football teams.”

* NYT | Environmental Changes Are Fueling Human, Animal and Plant Diseases, Study Finds: “It’s a big step forward in the science,” said Colin Carlson, a biologist at Georgetown University, who was not an author of the new analysis. “This paper is one of the strongest pieces of evidence that I think has been published that shows how important it is health systems start getting ready to exist in a world with climate change, with biodiversity loss.”

       

13 Comments
  1. - Almost the Weekend - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 2:28 pm:

    =My office sends out about 11,000 checks a day, or 3 million a year=

    It’s time for the Comptroller’s to move into the 21st century with certified vendors with the State of Illinois regarding payment. Direct Deposits deposits alone can save at least six figures in costs alone at that office.

    If Illinois legislation is reason why checks needs be mailed, it’s her office that needs to draft the legislation and find a sponsor to change it so the Comptroller’s office can get up to the 21st Century.


  2. - Ducky LaMoore - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 3:08 pm:

    Almost the Weekend, I completely agree. And that number of checks has undoubtedly gone up in recent years, given the ban on the use of petty cash and the incessant requirements to use Bidbuy. Nothing like paying more money for products/services and having to voucher them.


  3. - Ruth Dakin - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 3:24 pm:

    Heartbroken to hear about the death of Steve Albini. For folks of a certain age, he was an icon.


  4. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==Direct Deposits==

    Vendors can get their money direct deposited. Not all do. And nobody is going to pass any legislation mandating that all payments received by the state must be by direct deposit.


  5. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 3:58 pm:

    Sorry. Received FROM the state not by the state.


  6. - Just Sayin ... - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 4:01 pm:

    21st century experts should know that it is the choice of the taxfiler in what manner their tax refund shall be paid, whether by EGT or by hard check. Also, while the Comptroller has advocated greater particiation in electronic funds tranfers, it is up to the individual payee. With onky 20% that goes via hard checks, the focus should instead be on why the USPS won’t give seat of state govt their own distribution center?


  7. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 4:06 pm:

    Direct Deposits. The 2004 Collective Bargaining Agreement w/ AFSCME mandated paycheck Direct Deposit for all newly hired employees.

    The Feds have been wrestling with this for decades. Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, there are a signicant number of unbanked people, and some banked people want paper checks.


  8. - Leslie K - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 4:09 pm:

    Absolutely agree that this would be a great time to restore the Portage Theater. The old Sears location that anchored the area has finally been redeveloped with commercial and rental units (which are reportedly renting strongly), a new senior residential building is renting well, and there are several new cute/tasty shops/food spots to complement the old standbys like City News and Fantasy Costumes. A restored and open Theater could really enhance the foot traffic while keeping a sense of the history.


  9. - Just a Random Guy - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 4:10 pm:

    Here is something Sports that was overlooked this morning. Former Cubs catcher and current Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras to miss 6-8 weeks. Aside from the Cards/Cubs connection, he’s also the Cardinals best hitter so far in 2024. This is a big loss for them. Also, I’d estimate about 90% of baseball fans south of Springfield are Cardinals fans, so this is BIG news to some.

    https://www.mlb.com/news/willson-contreras-exits-with-injury-suffers-fractured-forearm


  10. - The Dude Abides - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 4:32 pm:

    Re: USPS

    It’s not just the comptroller that has to send paper checks.

    I work in a niche portion of a state agency, and all of our direct communication to members of the public as well as payments we send (to members of the public, to vendors, to the feds) have to be by paper check, and there is nothing anyone within state government can do about it.


  11. - Amalia - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 4:46 pm:

    so sad about the death of Steve Albini The posts about him include many interesting articles about his process, the studio, and reprinting his proposal letter to Nirvana. Such an amazing guy in so many ways not just his recording engineering.


  12. - Proud Papa Bear - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 5:06 pm:

    Stunned to hear about Steve Albini. He was a genius producer and a man of high character. He could have been fabulously wealthy but eschewed royalties in favor of flat rates because he thought artists were already exploited enough.


  13. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, May 8, 24 @ 7:52 pm:

    Re tourism numbers….Every where I travel I watch local television stations, and the Illinois tourism ads are the most prevalent tourism ads I see. Seems to be paying off.


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