Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (1/30)

January 30, 2023


Chicago, Cook County drops to low COVID-19 community level, by WGN.



Gov. Pritzker Announces $13 Million for Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program Expansion: “Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Friday awarded $13 million to 30 recipients to expand the Illinois Works Pre-apprenticeship Program, which creates a qualified talent pipeline of diverse candidates in construction and the building trades. The program’s second year expands access to the program across the state and will serve up to 1,400 pre-apprentices – a 40 percent increase from the program’s inaugural year,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Gov. Pritzker announces $15 million preservation investment at historic Old State Capitol in Springfield: “The Old State Capitol State Historic Site in Springfield is receiving long overdue

attention thanks to a $15.1 million preservation investment made possible by Governor JB Pritzker’s

bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan. Years of deferred maintenance are being addressed both inside and outside of the historic site in the heart of downtown Springfield. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) manages the site, and the Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) is overseeing the work. The site is now closed to the public and will remain so for the duration of the project.”

Illinois poised to lift restrictions on felons who want to legally change their names: “Legislation now on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk would loosen restrictions for people with past felony convictions who want to legally change their names. The measure passed in the Illinois Senate during the lame-duck session earlier this month, with five Democrats voting no, after being approved with bipartisan support in the House in 2021,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Gov. Pritzker Announces Departure of Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell: “On Friday, Governor JB Pritzker announced the upcoming departure of Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell, who has overseen Environment, Infrastructure, and Public Safety since the beginning of the Governor’s first term. Prior to serving as Deputy Governor, Mitchell served for six years in the Illinois House of Representatives and as Interim Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, the first African American to do so. He will be leaving at the beginning of March,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.


Lightfoot calls on state lawmakers, governor to assist with city pension funds 

In November, the Chicago City Council voted to approve Mayor Lightfoot’s $16.4 billion 2023 budget, which includes a $242 million payment towards future pension debt – a move that not only saves the city $2 billion in reduced pension contributions but also averts the need for Chicago’s four city employee pension funds (Municipal Employees, Laborers, Firefighters, and Police) to sell assets to cover liabilities.

Now, Lightfoot is calling on the General Assembly and the governor’s office to “make some hard choices, but do the right thing” in ensuring that city pensions are “actually available” in the future.

“It’s now time for municipalities across the state to get our due. All of us have done all of the things that the rating agencies and others have told us to do. We have made government work more efficiently. In Chicago, we haven’t cut services, but other municipalities have been forced to cut services, and have been forced to lay people off. And yet, they’re still suffering,” the mayor said in a speech to the City Club of Chicago Friday.

“I’m not prepared to talk about specifics here. But we have to be at the table with all of the relevant stakeholders and think about structural changes that are necessary to shore up the pensions – not taking away the benefits that existing retirees are getting. We’ve got to look at other things that we can do. You know the list. What’s missing is the political will. And we’ve got to find it,” she said.

Lightfoot has previously asked for a state takeover of the city’s four pension funds, which Gov. JB Pritzker shot down.


Paul Vallas gets money in mayor’s race from ex-CPS board member who left after scandal: “Four years after giving back a $500 campaign contribution from Deborah Quazzo,  a former Chicago Board of Education member, Paul Vallas’s mayoral bid has accepted a much bigger sum — $7,500 — from Quazzo ahead of the February election, records show,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago mayoral candidates answer 23 questions: “WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times asked the nine candidates running for mayor to answer 23 questions on important issues, including policing, public safety, city spending, taxes, schools and housing.”

City Council members infuriated by $1M settlement in police shooting case: “Alderpersons briefed on the settlement Friday were told it is “fiscally prudent” to pay the family of Sharell Brown even though the Civilian Office of Police Accountability ruled the May 2019 shooting was justified,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Proposed ordinance would create new offense for assaulting emergency workers: “A proposal from Ald. Matt O’Shea (19) would create a new offense under the city code for anyone who assaults emergency workers, particularly ambulance drivers and emergency medical services personnel, who O’Shea says have seen an increase in attacks. Members of the City Council Committee on Public Safety are set to meet at 10 a.m. Monday to discuss the ordinance (O2023-904),” by The Daily Line.

Lightfoot strikes franchise deal with ComEd and wants a fast City Council vote: “Commonwealth Edison will continue to serve the city of Chicago for at least the next 15 years under an agreement struck with the Lightfoot administration to extend the franchise, which expired more than two years ago. The pact, which needs City Council approval and is set to be introduced at Wednesday’s meeting, features $100 million in shareholder cash from ComEd,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Mayor Lightfoot Announces Susan Cappello to Serve as Acting Executive Director of the Chicago Animal Care and Control: “Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced that Susan Cappello will serve as Acting Executive Director of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC). Cappello, who began working with the City in 1990, will assume the lead role, effective January 30, after serving as Deputy Director since July 2021,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.


Beltway Briefing: Divided Government Returns

Since making concessions to his holdouts and winning a protracted Speaker’s race as a result, GOP leader McCarthy has appointed several Freedom Caucus members to the powerful House Rules Committee. Their appointment to the Rules panel gives them significant influence over when legislation is brought to the floor and how it is debated in the 118th Congress.

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin break down the first three weeks of the Rules Committee work. And, now that a split Congress is upon us again, with Republicans looking to deploy their power with a fragile majority in the House and Democrats looking to advance their own policy priorities in the Senate, they discuss the status of inter-party negotiations over several must-pass bills and ponder how the new era of divided government translates into the 2024 presidential politics.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


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