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Isabel’s morning briefing

Tuesday, May 28, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* ICYMI: Senate Democrats send $53.1B spending plan to House. Capitol News Illinois

Two days after the General Assembly was scheduled to adjourn its spring session, Democrats in the Illinois Senate advanced a $53.1 billion budget to the House Sunday night, where leaders expect it to pass without changes.

The fiscal year 2025 spending plan, which came together over a stretch of late nights and closed-door dealmaking, spends $400 million more than what Gov. JB Pritzker proposed in his February budget address.

Despite controlling the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, Democrats had a rocky time coming to an agreement, as evidenced during floor debate of the bill. In a rare move, a few Democrats publicly aired their disappointment with their party’s budget priorities before ultimately voting for it, while a pair of Democrats quietly voted no. […]

The budget, which is set to take effect on July 1, would increase spending by 5 percent from last year’s enacted budget, but just 1.6 percent when factoring in supplemental spending for the current year. It also reduced spending in several areas from Pritzker’s February budget proposal by a total of about $73 million, according to Sims, although Democrats did not provide a list of the cuts.

The spending plan directs a $350 million increase for K-12 education and full funding for year two of Pritzker’s “Smart Start” plan aimed at adding 5,000 preschool seats across the state and providing workforce grants. The plan would send $198 million to the state’s “rainy day” fund and make the full pension payment required by law.

* Related stories…

* Sen. Elgie Sims…

Majority Caucus Appropriations Leader Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement after the Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2025 budget:

“In keeping with our shared commitment to fiscal responsibility, 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 serve the best interests of the people of Illinois. By promoting economic growth, supporting education, ensuring public safety and enhancing the overall well-being of our communities, we will build a stronger, more prosperous and more equitable future for all residents of our great state.

“This budget reflects our shared values and our commitment to making Illinois a better place to live, work and raise a family. I am proud to have led a stable budget that addresses our current needs.”

Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

The Fiscal Year 2025 budget builds upon the responsible spending decisions the state has made and balanced budgets we have passed in recent years, bringing forth a budget and other legislation that prioritizes education, public safety, economic development, social service, local governments and more.

Highlights

Fiscal Responsibility – 6th balanced budget

    This budget builds on five years of historic fiscal progress with balanced budgets, nine credit rating upgrades, the elimination of the bill backlog, and more.
    Alongside the smart spending decisions of the previous fiscal years, the budget continues to pay down our bills, invest more money into retirees through fully funding pensions, and save for the future.

Early Childhood Education

    $14 million to launch the Department of Early Childhood – a new agency to focus on administering early childhood education programs
    An additional $75 million will be sent to the ISBE Early Childhood Block Grant – putting in place 5,000 more slots in preschool deserts
    $36.5 million to support higher participation in the Child Care Assistance Program

K-12 Education

    Continues the commitment of a $350 million increase toward the evidence-based funding model for K-12 education
    The state will topple $2 billion toward the evidence-based funding model since its inception with this investment
    $10.3 million increase for Career and Technical Education programs
    $3 million for State Literacy Plan Implementation – a roadmap to enhance and unify core literacy instruction efforts statewide
    $45 million for the Teacher Vacancy Grant Pilot Program

Higher Education

    $700 million for Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding
    In Fiscal Year 2025, a projected 146,000 students could benefit from MAP Grants – up from 126,864 in 2019
    $8 million for the Minority Teacher Scholarship Program

Violence Prevention and Public Safety

    Funding to hire and train 200 new state troopers – a total of two new cadet classes
    $200 million to the Restore, Reinvest, Renew (R3) program
    $45 million to build up the Reimagine Public Safety grant program
    $200 million to enhance after-school and summer youth programs

Health and Human Services

    $290 million for HOME Illinois
    $2.4 billion for services for people with developmental disabilities, including a $1 per hour wage increase for Direct Support Professionals
    $155 million for safety net hospitals
    $50 million for a child tax credit for eligible low-income families with EITC

*** Statehouse News ***

* Capitol News Illinois | Prairie Band Potawatomi land deal clears Senate, will head back to House: The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a step closer to acquiring a 1,500-acre state park in DeKalb County, much of which was once part of a reservation that was illegally seized from the tribe in the mid-19 th century. As the Senate worked through its last stack of bills Sunday before planning to adjourn for the summer, it voted 49-7 to pass Senate Bill 867, which authorizes deeding the property to the tribe for $1.

* Center Square | Illinois changing ‘unlawful use’ to ‘unlawful possession’ of gun charges: In January, state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, filed House Bill 4500 to change various firearm possession charges to get away from being labeled unlawful use of a firearm charges. He argued in a committee earlier this year that some of those who are charged and convicted with being illegally in possession of a firearm but not using it in the commission of another crime were charged with unlawful use which carries a negative stigma.

* Tribune | Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues clashing with Illinois Senate over parole board: Over opposition from the governor’s office, Senate Democrats, joined by their Republican colleagues, voted without opposition late Sunday to codify a series of changes to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, a body that has been a source of long-running bipartisan tension between the legislative chamber and the Pritzker administration. The discord, which began two years ago when the Senate rejected some of Pritzker’s appointments to the board, most recently flared earlier this spring after the panel released 37-year-old parolee Crosetti Brand. After his release, he was charged with killing 11-year-old Jayden Perkins and attacking the child’s mother, with whom he once had a relationship.

* Pantagraph | Illinois carbon capture rules head to Pritzker: The bill cleared the Illinois House with a 78-29 vote Saturday, received the OK from the Illinois Senate on a 43-12-2 roll call on Sunday and now only needs Pritzker’s signature to become law. The governor, in a statement Sunday evening, said he looked forward to signing the legislation “as soon as possible.”

*** Chicago ***

* Tribune | CTA could provide up to 250 buses for use during the DNC. Will that leave enough for regular bus service?: The head of the union that represents bus drivers says he anticipates having enough staffing for both the DNC and regular scheduled bus service. But designating buses for the convention has some advocates concerned. “Pulling CTA operators from their regular routes to a specified task that doesn’t serve all of Chicago is of tremendous concern,” said Kyle Lucas, with the transportation advocacy group Better Streets Chicago. “And what will service look like for everyday people during that time?”

* Tribune | Chicago’s first school board elections are less than 6 months away. Here’s what to know on the possible outcomes for schools: “Whether it’s elections for the mayor or whether it’s for school boards, it’s really about different adult interests that up at the ballot box,” said Vladimir Kogan, a political science professor at Ohio State University who studies education policy. “Very little is usually fundamentally at the end of day about the kids and what’s good for student learning.” However, research has shown that holding school board elections in on-cycle years — as Chicago will — can equate to more accountability for board members and result in a wider net of people voting for those who will control public schools.

* AP | Man convicted of Chicago murder based on blind witness’ testimony sues city, police: A judge convicted Darien Harris in 2014 in connection with a fatal shooting at a South Side gas station in 2011. He was 12 years into a 76-year prison sentence when he was freed in December after The Exoneration Project showed that the eyewitness had advanced glaucoma and lied about his eyesight issues. Harris was 30 years old when he went free. Harris filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in April alleging police fabricated evidence and coerced witnesses into making false statements, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday. He told the newspaper that he is still struggling to put his life back together.

* WBEZ | Chicago summer forecast: less extreme heat, not as much wildfire smoke as last year but muggier:
“Because we have had such a wet spring across much of the region, I wouldn’t expect a summer with a large number of extremely hot days,” says Trent Ford, the Illinois state climatologist. “But the abundant moisture in the ground can make for some very humid conditions this summer, which can exacerbate heat stress. So the outlook right now is for a warm — likely muggy — and stormy summer across the Midwest.”

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Sun-Times | 2 ex-jail officials say they were fired after claiming they were coerced into political work for Sheriff Tom Dart: Drake Carpenter and Aracelis Gotay were suspended without pay in March of 2022 amid a federal investigation into whether some employees in the sheriff’s office were illegally working second jobs. Two other administrators also were suspended and more than a dozen lower-ranking officers were transferred. But after nearly two years without a paycheck and no indication from the sheriff’s office on exactly why they were suspended, Gotay and Carpenter sued the sheriff this past December.

* Daily Herald | Diamond in the rough or money pit? Metra board chagrined at costs of warehouse ‘fiasco’: Metra bought the large property at 17100 S. Halsted St. for about $7 million in October 2020. The price seemed right, the location near I-80 and I-294 was appealing, and a centralized warehouse could cut delivery times and costs with bulk purchasing, officials thought. A few months into the purchase, heavy snow caused some warehouse walls to separate from the roof and it turned out the site had drainage issues. Currently, there are concerns the floor can’t support the weight of Metra’s heaviest items, the site needs to be rezoned, and the city won’t allow outdoor storage, staff said.

*** Downstate ***

* Daily-Journal | Gotion buys 231 acres for targeted expansions, power plant: The land, about 231 acres split between two parcels, was acquired by limited liability companies related to Gotion, and it will allow the China-based company to build out its power plant for future use. “They need to get power to the plant, and there are huge power lines that run about a mile west of their facility,” said Manteno Mayor Tim Nugent. “They need to be able to get right-of-way access to those power lines, so they have purchased the property between the facility and those power lines.”

* WAND | Federal grand jury issues subpoena in investigation of former Paris 95 Superintendent: The day after the FBI raid, ISBE informed Superintendent Larson and the District it was investigating misspent COVID funds. Days later Larson was put on paid administrative leave, and by the end of the year he left the District. ISBE worked with the District on a corrective plan to re-pay the almost $1.6 million.

* WSIL | NWS Preliminary Results: EF-3 Tornado Hits Southern Illinois: An EF-3 tornado hit Johnson County on Sunday, according to preliminary results from the National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS sent out a survey crew to southern Illinois on Monday morning. There they investigated the area and found evidence which they feel supports the EF-3 tornado status.

* Shaw Local | Aging veterans appeal for help with future Memorial Days: Each May, Dennis Znaniecki calls for residents of the Illinois Valley to commemorate the dead. People respond generously. At Memorial Day 2024, however, Znaniecki called for future volunteers, too. Znaniecki, commander of the Peru Veterans Memorial Group, said Monday it’s getting harder for he and the aging corps of veterans to handle the yearly observances and to ensure Memorial Day is solemnly observed for generations to come.

*** Sports ***

* Sun-Times | Bill Walton: A free spirit who blazed his own trail in life, basketball : Bill Walton died of cancer Monday at 71, and it seems a gust of fresh air just left the room. Walton was a different dude. He was an ageless, gentle hippie, torn from the start by his love of basketball and by his desire to be free of the artificiality and constraints of modern life. By his own account, he had attended more than 1,000 Grateful Dead concerts. The community Deadheads create in the midst of the jam — always with the memory of deceased leader Jerry Garcia afloat — is something that binds them together in a brotherhood of ecstasy.

* Tribune | Illinois baseball is seeded 3rd in Lexington Regional, while Tennessee earns No. 1 national seed in NCAA Tournament: Tennessee, the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament champion and the consensus No. 1 team in the country for a month, was awarded the top national seed for the NCAA Tournament on Monday. The 64-team tournament opens Friday with 16 double-elimination regionals. Winners advance to eight best-of-three super regionals. Those winners move on to the College World Series beginning June 14 in Omaha, Neb.

*** National ***

* Bond Buyer | From politics to disclosure to funding, issuers are navigating a tough climate: With a myriad of challenges facing state and local governments to fund vast infrastructure needs amid a shifting climate and severe weather events, there are government officials across the country that have begun to address them head on. Paying for them is one of the biggest challenges.

       

10 Comments
  1. - JoanP - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 8:24 am:

    = Illinois changing ‘unlawful use’ to ‘unlawful possession’ of gun charges =

    Good idea. I can’t tell you how often I had to explain to clients that it didn’t matter that they didn’t actually use the gun, it was still considered “use”.

    = unlawful use . . . carries a negative stigma =

    Is there such a thing as a “positive stigma”?


  2. - BCOSEC - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 8:31 am:

    The Illini men’s golf team finished in first after for rounds of stroke play at the NCAA Championship at Carlsbad, CA, 16 strokes ahead of second, with two Illini tied for second individually. The Illini face Georgia Tech in the first round of match play this morning.

    Illini men’s golf coach Mike Small (a Danville native) is maybe having his greatest coaching season yet. He’s a legend!


  3. - ZC - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 9:41 am:

    Elgie Sims really is a Capitol workhorse, isn’t he? He is a Donne Trotter protege.


  4. - Telly - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 9:54 am:

    @BCOSEC is right. A cold weather school leading in golf is a major accomplishment.


  5. - big picture - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 10:09 am:

    I would be interested in seeing a list of what didn’t make it in the budget. What were the cuts, what was under consideration but didn’t make it in, and what member projects fell off the table.


  6. - Teve Demotte - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 10:09 am:

    When healthy, Bill Walton was one of the great basketball players of all time.


  7. - More bad money? - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 10:49 am:

    Why is Dolton getting so much money in budget?

    Aren’t they under the microscope?

    Isn’t said person, under the microscope, in charge of the this money coming in?

    Is there anybody out there?


  8. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 12:14 pm:

    ===really is a Capitol workhorse, isn’t he?===

    I have known him since he was on staff. None better.


  9. - Rudy’s teeth - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 2:19 pm:

    Concerned about CTA bus access during the DNC convention. So many seniors and individuals with mobility issues depend on the CTA for doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping, and travel in the city.

    There is public transportation available from the airports to the city via the Orange Line and the Blue Line. Also, public transit to and from the United Center. Private car service is available to the convention folks. Let’s not forget about the residents who depend on public transportation every day.


  10. - Dotnonymous x - Tuesday, May 28, 24 @ 2:33 pm:

    Bill Walton changed sports…for the better…stubbornly.


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