Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (10/24)

October 24, 2022


IDPH Reports Illinois Surpassed 1 Million Mark for Bivalent COVID-19 Booster Shots, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Monkeypox Kills 2 Chicagoans, First To Die From Virus In The City, Officials Announce, by Block Club Chicago.


Illinois secretary of state race heating up

With Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White not seeking reelection after over two decades in office, the race between state Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) and White-endorsed Alexi Giannoulias is heating up.

Brady, who has 20 years of experience as a state representative as well as time in private business and county government, believes he has a “distinct advantage from an experience standpoint.” Giannoulias, a former state treasurer, is running for office for the first time in 12 years but says he is ready to make a comeback.

Both candidates have focused on what they would do to reduce wait times at the driver services facilities and make services more accessible. Brady says he will offer more remote services, cut vehicle registration fees by $50 for one year, and increase the use of license plate reading technology. Giannoulias is focused on a full-scale modernization of driver services facilities, with plans to implement a “skip the line” program, digital IDs and driver’s licenses, kiosks inside of DMVs, and services in libraries.

With no plans on how to pay back the $550 million dollars Brady’s registration fee reduction would cost the state, Giannoulias has spoken out against Brady’s proposal, calling it an “offensive, dangerous” and “ridiculous political stunt.”

A Sun-Times/WBEZ poll this month found Giannoulias had a 43 percent to 32 percent lead on Brady with 17 percent of voters undecided, but Giannoulias has said he’s taking Brady’s competition seriously.


In highly political, richly funded contests for Illinois Supreme Court majority, pledges of impartiality stir skepticism: “Money is pouring into the races, adding to a national trend that has seen judicial campaigns become an increasingly expensive battleground. The Brennan Center for Justice found that in the last election cycle, partisans sank a record $97 million into state Supreme Court races nationwide. Despite candidates’ claims of independence, research has shown that judges do indeed favor their contributors,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Redrawn Illinois congressional map gives most incumbents an election edge over newcomers, but issues such as economy, crime, abortion could also play a factor: “With the control of Congress up for grabs in this fall’s election, Democrats and Republicans can ill-afford to lose any House seats — and issues from the economy to abortion could help decide which way voters break in Illinois and elsewhere,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Chicago Police Supt. Brown wants change to SAFE-T Act provision on electronic monitoring: “Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown said Friday during a City Council budget hearing for the department he wants state lawmakers to amend the SAFE-T Act to prevent violent offenders from being released on electronic monitoring while they await trail,” by The Daily Line.

Pritzker adds $2 million to the pot for Illinois Democrats: “The billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, who has used his personal wealth to fuel his own political aspirations and reshape the state party with allies, gave another $2 million to the Democratic Party of Illinois this week, according to the state Board of Elections,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.


Chicago secures first Fitch rating upgrade in nearly 13 years

Mayor Lightfoot announced Friday that Fitch Ratings (Fitch) upgraded their long-term ratings for the City of Chicago’s General Obligation Bonds (GO) by one notch from “BBB-” to “BBB” with a positive outlook, meaning that Fitch believes there is potential for further upgrades over the next one-to-two-year period.

The upgrade and positive outlook can be attributed to Chicago’s improved financial stability and Fitch’s confidence in the City’s financial plans for continued and new investments.

“This rating upgrade is well-deserved, and highlights not only the tremendous hard work undertaken by the Mayor and City Council, but also the benefits of transparency and accountability in managing the City’s finances,” said Ald. Scott Waguespack, Chair for City Council’s Committee on Finance.

The City’s rating has been BBB- for nearly seven years since the last downgrade in 2016. The City estimates that these rating upgrades will save approximately $100 million in savings per $1 billion borrowed; the City borrows approximately $1-2 billion per year.


Chicago Public Library, law department, CDOT to present budget proposal on final day of hearings: “Departmental budget hearings are set to wrap up Monday with leaders from the Chicago Public Library, Department of Law and Department of Transportation set to detail their proposed spending plans during a 9 a.m. meeting of the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Oversight,” by The Daily Line.

Aldermen grill CPD on mental health clinicians for officers, overtime spending for special events: “Aldermen used a 7-hour hearing on the Chicago Police Department’s proposed budget for 2023 to grill Supt. David Brown on overtime pay and staffing for large special events, mental health clinicians for officers and how police are working with the CTA,” by The Daily Line.

City Council praises Board of Ethics during budget hearing, as board’s budget set to drop: “Aldermen breezed through a Friday morning budget hearing on the Chicago Board of Ethics ahead of a lengthy hearing on the Chicago Police Department budget. During the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations meeting, aldermen praised the board for its work and asked only questions about improving and ensuring completion of online ethics training courses by city officials, aldermen and lobbyists and ensuring compliance with ethical practices and requirements,” by The Daily Line.

Petitions out for Rep. Garcia mayoral run; lawmaker still mulling Chicago City Hall bid: “Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia knows that mayoral petitions are being circulated on his behalf and has not discouraged it, petition drive leader Clem Balanoff told the Sun-Times,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

City Colleges of Chicago teachers union prepares to set strike date for faculty and staff who are still without a contract agreement: “The Cook County College Teachers Union plans to notify members Monday evening announcing that strike date internally ahead of a rally planned for Thursday, union president Tony Johnston said,” by The Chicago Tribune.


Beltway Briefing: Countdown to 2022 Midterm Elections

The 2022 midterms are around the corner, and there may not be a more consequential election than this one. From inflation to a possible recession, tax policy, gun control, abortion law, immigration reform, and more, American voters have a plethora of issues to consider on November 8. All 435 House seats are up for election, and a shift of only five seats would transfer control of the chamber to Republicans. In the Senate, a total of 35 seats are up for election, with a net change of one seat in either direction altering the balance.

Listen to this and any of the previous Beltway Briefing podcast episodes here.


Student loan forgiveness plan blocked by federal appeals court: “President Joe Biden’s plans to forgive student loan debt has been blocked temporarily by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued the stay Friday evening,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.


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