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Afternoon roundup

Monday, Jun 5, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Some folks went a bit kooky after the April COGFA report. May’s report has better news

General Funds revenues bounced back nicely from April’s $1.8 billion decline with growth of $677 million in May, as compared to the same month the year prior. The May increases were experienced across the board, with the most significant growth coming from the Personal Income Tax and Federal Sources. Part of the reason for last month’s extensive declines was due to April having one less receipting day in FY 2023. This “lost” day was effectively made up in May, as the extra receipting day helped bolster this month’s revenue totals.

Personal Income Tax revenues recouped a segment of its significant April losses (associated with comparatively weaker final tax payments) with growth of $367 million in May. When removing the non-general fund distributions to the Refund Fund and the Local Government Distributive Fund, the net increase was $311 million. In addition, revenue from Federal Sources, which have trailed last year’s pace throughout much of the year, rose $252 million in May helping to alleviate some of the sting from last month’s declines. […]

Year to Date

When incorporating May’s revenue gains into the FY 2023 accrued total, General Funds base revenues are now ahead of last year’s pace by $484 million with one month remaining in the fiscal year. When including the revenue gains from ARPA reimbursement funds, the overall growth for the fiscal year improves to $809 million. While this year-to-date growth figure is well below the $2.5 billion high-water mark at the end of February, it is a noticeable improvement over the meager $132 million in growth that resulted after March and April’s sizeable declines

* Gov. Pritzker spoke today about the state’s MAP grant spending

When I came in, we had about $400 million dedicated to college scholarships, MAP grants. Today it’s $750 million.

* Press release

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined hospital leaders and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) to unveil the four-year reportof the Chicago HEAL Initiative. Launched in 2018 by Senator Durbin and 10 of the largest hospitals serving Chicago, the HEAL Initiative is a collaboration to address the root causes of gun violence through economic, health, and community projects in 18 of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and health disparities. Today’s report highlights significant progress made by the hospitals in local hiring, job training and mentorship, and trauma-informed care and youth mental health activities. As part of today’s report, Durbin also announced $6.25 million in new federal funding to support these hospital-led efforts to break the cycle of violence through community programs. […]

Among other highlights, last year the ten hospitals:

    • Hired 5,390 new employees from the 18 focus neighborhoods.
    • Provided 3,639 students with summer job, pipeline, or apprenticeship programs.
    • Operated 24 school-based health clinics and mobile health units that served 11,277 students.
    • Served 17,623 individuals with violence recovery programs, including 3,028 victims with ongoing trauma-informed case management services.

* Tribune

Across the country, marshes, swamps and bogs quietly soak up flood water and filter pollutants. Ecologists agree they are one of the best natural defenses against climate change.

But after a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, more than half of the country’s 118 million acres of wetlands, according to estimates from the environmental firm Earthjustice, will effectively no longer have federal protection from developers and polluters.

Illinois, which has lost 90% of its wetlands since 1818, is among the more vulnerable states with no state-level protections for wetlands on private property. Those on public land are still protected.

In a startling precedent for environmental law, experts say, the decision in Sackett v. EPA upends more than 50 years of legal protections by limiting the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act to wetlands visibly connected to major waterways. […]

The Illinois Environmental Council is calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to issue an executive order protecting as many wetlands as possible until the General Assembly can consider new legislation when it reconvenes in January.

Developers and farmers have applauded the decision. But there is now a push on to provide some state protections and Gov. Pritzker was asked today about taking some sort of executive action

There’s nothing currently on the table to do that. But understand what the issue is. It’s something that a lot of communities, a lot of, particularly rural communities are very concerned about. So, you know, we’ll continue to look at it and our EPA is looking at it.

Not sure what sort of executive order he could even issue.

* The Sun-Times has an explainer on those sweepstakes machines which are at the heart of the Jimmy Weiss trial. Excerpt

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s campaign staff made supportive comments about video gambling before his election this year, calling it “an important revenue source for critical investments in public safety, transportation, housing and other public accommodations.”

So [Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove] said he’d prefer sweepstakes machines become part of a “larger conversation about whether Chicago is going to opt in to our video gaming regime.”

Meanwhile, Fernandez told the Sun-Times that traditional video gaming devices are “much more attractive” than sweepstakes machines. The technology, he said, rivals that found in a traditional casino.

And, he said, “if there were a market where video gaming were allowed, [sweepstakes] would not survive.”

The city has left countless millions on the table while allowing an untaxed gray market to flourish. Ridic.

* Speaking of video gaming, a Cook County judge granted a rare temporary restraining order against the Illinois Gaming Board because the board can’t seem to do its job in a timely manner...

Lucky Lincoln has been a licensed video gaming terminal operator under the Illinois Video Gaming Act since 2014. On December 14, 2017, the Board filed its first complaint for disciplinary action against Lucky Lincoln (DC-V-17-226). It filed a second complaint on December 17, 2019 (DC-V-19-094). A consolidated hearing on those complaints just began on May 22, 2023, nearly five years after the first complaint.

On May 12, 2023, the Board filed a third complaint for disciplinary action against Lucky Lincoln (DC-V-23-161). The complaint attaches a “Notice of Limited Summary Suspension” issued by the Administrator

* Press release…

Today job seekers from across northern Illinois will participate in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) inaugural “On-the-Spot Hiring” event, which connects service-driven professionals with employment opportunities in essential areas of the state’s child welfare system.

Thanks to a collaborative effort between Governor JB Pritzker, DCFS and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), attendees interested in pursuing careers as child welfare specialists, child protection specialists, child welfare trainees and child protection trainees will be able to meet one-on-one with DCFS recruiters to learn more about the agency and the critical roles it is seeking to fill. Qualified candidates who have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in related human service, education, criminal justice, criminal justice administration or law enforcement may leave the recruiting event with conditional offers of employment. The expedited hiring process used at today’s event is a milestone for DCFS, reducing the turnaround time traditionally needed to make an employment offer by 80 percent helping the agency to fill vital public service roles without undue delay.

* Dilla was in Springfield?…

* Isabel’s roundup…

    * Sun-Times | What are sweepstakes machines? The gambling devices at the center of the latest public corruption trial: Businessman James T. Weiss is accused of paying $32,500 in bribes to then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo between November 2018 and October 2019 to promote and vote for legislation related to sweepstakes machines in the Illinois General Assembly. […] Federal prosecutors charged Arroyo with bribery in October 2019, and a grand jury indicted Arroyo and Weiss one year later, in October 2020. Arroyo pleaded guilty and is already serving a 57-month prison sentence. Weiss is set for trial Monday.

    * Tribune | Second jobs for Chicago aldermen would be restricted or even banned under proposed ordinance: Talk of barring outside employment has been floated repeatedly but never gained traction. Members of council instead passed ordinances chipping away at potential conflicts or slightly tightening ethics restrictions. The most recent reforms, passed under ex-Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the wake of a federal corruption sweep, barred aldermen from working for a client if the representation “may result in an adverse effect on city revenue or finances, or affect the relative tax burden or health, safety, or welfare of any city residents.”

    * Center Square | Illinois Supreme Court accepts challenge to downstate public safety pension consolidation: The law consolidating about 650 first responder pensions outside of Chicago was enacted in 2019 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. All existing funds were pooled together into two separate funds, one for police and one for firefighters. Each local fund retained a separate account managing operation and the financial condition of each participating pension fund with the power to adjudicate and award retirement and other benefits from the funds.

    * Crain’s | Illinois EPA awards $12.6M to build initial wave of EV chargers: Illinois currently has 1,156 public EV-charging stations with 2,896 charging ports, according to federal data. That’s up from 900 charging stations about 18 months ago but nowhere near the 40,000 ports that experts estimate will be needed to support the 1 million EVs that Gov. J.B. Pritzker envisions on the state’s roads by the end of the decade.

    * Patch | Those Long Skirts In Hinsdale? Now You Know Why: The series, “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets,” revealed allegations of inappropriate activity at the headquarters of the Institute in Basic Life Principles. It was at Ogden Avenue and Adams Street in Hinsdale for decades. The documentary was released Friday on Amazon Prime.

    * Sun-Times | Johnson to Chicago police graduates: ‘I will have your back’: “Know as your mayor, as your brother, I’m here to build the type of coalition that generations to come will marvel because this will be the generation that stared into the eyes of the divisive nature that’s been created by political forces that do not want the city of Chicago to succeed. But this is the freakin’ city of Chicago. The best city in the world and no one — no one — will come before us,” Johnson told the graduates in the grand ballroom at Navy Pier.

    * WGLT | Sen. Bennett liked some things in the new state budget, but said it was not transparent: Bennett said the 3,000-page budget was rushed through before lawmakers could see everything that was in it. “We’re still trying to work through what’s all in there,” Bennett said. “That whole lack of transparency, I would think, would really concern every person in the state of Illinois.”

    * Sun-Times | Vendors forced out of Little Village Discount Mall have mixed success beyond it: She hopes she’ll be able to return to the open half of the mall, but many vendors have moved on and opened conventional storefronts or turned to other malls. Others hope that those locations are just temporary stops along the way to the group opening up a new mall of their own on the Southwest Side. The space those vendors have in mind is a former Kmart at 51st Street and Kedzie Avenue in Gage Park. The owner, they say, is fixing up the space. In April, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), who has supported the vendors throughout their exodus, announced the city had verbally agreed to help by covering the initial cost of rent.

    * Center Square | Illinois Bacon Day will be celebrated every May 3: The idea came from state Sen. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, who wants to highlight the contribution that Illinois pork producers make to the state’s economy. Illinois pork farmers provide over 6 billion slices of Illinois-raised bacon every year, Bennett said in a statement.

    * Crain’s | The maker of Nutella leans on its presence here to grow Kinder Chocolate in the U.S.: Ferrero is already selling its Kinder Joy, Kinder Bueno and Kinder Seasonal lines in the US, and it plans to release Kinder Chocolate in August, according to Bertrac. That will help boost a brand that already racks up $7 billion in sales around the world every year. To support the company’s US growth, Ferrero is expanding its manufacturing facility in Bloomington and it’s also opening a new innovation center in the Loop.

    * NPR | An Anti-Vaccine Film Targeted To Black Americans Spreads False Information: When a filmmaker asked medical historian Naomi Rogers to appear in a new documentary, the Yale professor didn’t blink. She had done these “talking head” interviews many times before. […] “I was naive, certainly, in assuming that this was actually a documentary, which I would say it is not. I think that it is an advocacy piece for anti-vaxxers,” Rogers says. “I’m still very angry. I feel that I was used.”

    * Tribune | Google users to get about $95 each in Illinois biometric privacy settlement: The Google settlement is one of a number of high-profile settlements in recent years over alleged violations of Illinois’ strict biometric privacy law; other companies that have been caught in the law’s crosshairs include Facebook and Snapchat parent Snap Inc. The law prohibits companies from collecting or saving biometric information without prior consent.

    * Sun-Times | Haters can keep hating. Chicago tourists are back: Chicagoans will concede there are much more serious threats to our safety. Yet, in spite of its very real flaws — dog-whistling politicians aside, the rampant gun violence is undeniable — and the babbling naysayers, there’s no denying it. People love the Windy City.


  1. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jun 5, 23 @ 2:46 pm:

    “People love the Windy City.”

    Just the food alone, almost. Great hotels and easy to get around. The lakefront is a real gem, with so much park space. Architecture is second to none.

  2. - jackmac - Monday, Jun 5, 23 @ 3:00 pm:

    Dilla is a Chicago (and now statewide) treasure. His TikTok videos on local history and notable locations are outstanding. Glad to see him branching out.

  3. - Sam E. - Monday, Jun 5, 23 @ 3:23 pm:

    Lots of words from Didech on sweepstakes games, not sure what it all means. Chicago can opt in the video gaming anytime they want. They don’t need a “larger conversation” in Springfield to make it happen.

    And no one is surprised it takes the gaming board five or six years to complete tasks that should take five or six months.

  4. - BluegrassBoy - Monday, Jun 5, 23 @ 3:31 pm:

    SMH at the supreme court for taking this interpretation on wetlands / waters. So dumb.
    However, wetlands will still remain protected in NE IL as most counties have their own regs, thank goodness.
    Unfortunately the IL state regs are only good for state funded projects. IDOT will still have to protect wetalnds, but Walmart wont. JB is not very good on the environment. Wetlands could be his ticket to improve this, but I suspect he wont do anything.

  5. - Politix - Monday, Jun 5, 23 @ 3:49 pm:

    The rise Chicago tourism makes me giddy. Love our town.

  6. - Rudy’s teeth - Monday, Jun 5, 23 @ 4:12 pm:

    Folks in town (parents and Swiftees) enjoyed restaurants, hotels, and concerts at Soldier Field.

    Dinner at a restaurant on Wabash, an easy walk to Symphony Center for a concert. Then hailed a cab for a ride home.

    What a great night in the city. The architecture is the best.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* Stop Illinois From Making Credit Cards Hard To Use
* Question of the day
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
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