Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor (2/21)

February 21, 2024


Pritzker delivers $52.7 billion budget proposal

In his sixth annual State of the State address, Gov. J.B. Pritzker today unveiled a $52.7 billion FY 2025 budget.

Speaking before a joint session of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate, Pritzker touted the state’s fiscal recovery and achievements in early childhood education, economic development, and health and human services.

His election-year spending plan proposes targeted investments and reforms in health care, children’s services, housing, and asylum seeker response efforts.

“This year’s budget proposal is focused and disciplined, and because of the responsible actions we took in the last few years paying off state debt and treating federal pandemic relief as one time revenue, we are not facing the budgetary challenges that other big states are this year,” Pritzker said.

In his budget address, the governor proposed a new program to retire the outstanding medical debt of low-income Illinois and eliminate $4 billion of medical debt for over 1 million Illinoisians over the next four years. The $10 million appropriation for FY 2025 will relieve nearly $1 billion in medical debt.

Pritzker also announced increased funding for its Home Illinois program, which invested $200 million in homelessness prevention, crisis response, housing units, and staffing. The proposed budget includes an additional $50 million to address the root causes of housing insecurity for Black Illinoisans.

The governor’s budget proposal calls for the permanent repeal of the state’s 1 percent sales tax on groceries. It also includes $500 million for quantum computing technology, including for a cryogenic facility.

Finally, the budget proposal requests another $182 million for migrants as part of a joint funding plan with Cook County announced last week. The funds will “ensure shelter, wraparound services and healthcare remain available for asylum seekers sent to Chicago from the Texas border.”

Not mentioned in his speech today is Pritzker’s plan to close an $891 million projected budget deficit by raising the state tax on sports wagers from 15 percent to 35 percent, which will generate an estimated $200 million in additional revenue, and by extending the amount of time large corporations can write off operational losses on their income taxes by three years and raising the annual cap from $100,000 to $500,000, which will generate $526 million in annual revenue.

Pritzker’s proposal kicks off several months of negotiations with lawmakers who must approve a final budget by the end of May. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s full speech, along with all proposed FY 2025 budget documents, can be found here.


Ruling expected this week on bid to block Trump from Illinois ballot

“A Cook County judge said she hopes to rule [this] week on whether former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from Illinois’ ballot under the 14th Amendment for allegedly engaging in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois Comptroller provides portal to track migrant-related spending

“Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said she wants to give taxpayers more information about state expenditures on the asylum seekers who have been arriving in Illinois. Mendoza has opened a portal on her office website,” by NPR Illinois.

Lawmakers exam audit of COVID grant program featuring campaign contribution with possible conflict of interest

“State lawmakers on the Legislative Audit Commission reviewed a report on Tuesday of a COVID-19 recovery grant program for businesses that raised numerous red flags with state auditors, including a possible conflict of interest for a key decision maker and a state department giving out grants outside the boundaries of the law,” by The Daily Line.

White Sox Owner Meets With State Lawmakers as Team Seeks Public Funds for New Stadium

“A day before Gov. J.B. Pritzker shares his plan to close a projected budget hole tiptoeing toward $1 billion, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf traveled to Springfield to make a pitch for state help spending roughly that amount on a new Sox stadium,” by WTTW.

As corruption trials continue, Illinois lobbyist reform effort pushed in General Assembly

“As the Illinois General Assembly begins its spring session, among the mountain of legislation being proposed is a bill that aims to tackle two key issues around lobbying — requiring statehouse lobbyists to report the compensation they receive from their clients and giving the secretary of state’s office the power to boot bad actors,” by the Chicago Tribune.


City Council confirms new housing commissioner

The Chicago City Council today approved the appointment of Lissette Castañeda as Commissioner of the Department of Housing.

Castañeda was appointed to the position by Mayor Johnson in December after former Commissioner Marisa Novara exited the role last summer.

Previously, Castañeda served as the executive director of the Humboldt Park-based Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved affordable housing advocacy and counseling organization that targets Spanish-speaking and Hispanic clients.


Mayor Brandon Johnson pitches borrowing $1.25 billion for housing and development

“In a major shift away from how the city currently funds development, Johnson plans to pay for the massive borrowing package by knocking out another priority: letting dozens of the city’s controversial tax increment financing, or TIF, districts expire,” by WBEZ.

Chicago City Council approves new restrictions on dollar stores

“The City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance that will place new regulations on dollar stores in Chicago. The ordinance prohibits so-called ‘small-box retailers’ from opening within one mile of another such store owned by the same company. It passed by a vote of 42-7,” by CBS 2 Chicago.

Mayor Brandon Johnson fires city’s cultural affairs chief, building commissioner

“Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Erin Harkey was appointed by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2021 when the pandemic had shut down theater, live-music and Chicago’s myriad festivals and special events. She slowly brought those events back to life with the annual Blues Fest returning last summer. Matthew Beaudet was the city’s building commissioner since 2020,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago sues five giant oil companies, accusing them of climate change destruction, fraud

“Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday that names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell, accusing the companies of discrediting science and misleading the public as the climate crisis continued to wreak havoc on the planet,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

ShotSpotter contract with Chicago extended through end of summer

“Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office worked out a renewal to the nearly $49 million contract with ShotSpotter’s parent company, SoundThinking, through Sept. 22,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.


Cozen Cities: The Senate and the House’s Role Reversals

  • The Senate has historically portrayed itself as the adults in the room compared to the House. Senate Republican fissures, however, threaten this historical dichotomy.
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) finds himself hemmed in with a razor-thin majority and conservative members of his caucus controlling key legislative procedural levers. This has left him reliant upon bipartisan support to pass meaningful legislation.
  • Democrats’ victory in the New York Third special election last week was a road test for their strategy to defuse GOP attacks come November.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

Beltway Briefing: Are Washington and Lincoln turning over in their graves?

As we enter President’s weekend, would the former leaders be disappointed we aren’t further along in our nation’s trajectory? Is the end of American exceptionalism closer than we know? Join Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, and Towner French as they look back at our country’s historical struggles, discuss whether Tom Suozzi’s win is a good omen for the Democrats in November, and ask whether the absence of a clear foreign enemy today is at the root of all this internal dysfunction.

Listen to the Beltway Briefing here.

If you have any questions regarding this update or if you’re interested in ways to engage on these issues, please contact one of our team members here


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