Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (10/7)

October 7, 2022


IDPH: 83 percent of recent COVID-19 hospital patients were either not vaxxed or hadn’t yet received all three shots, by Capitol Fax.


Pritzker, Bailey clash at first gubernatorial debate

Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker and Republican challenger Sen. Darren Bailey met at Illinois State University Thursday night for an hour-long, televised debate.

Crime and safety were at the forefront of the debate, as the two gubernatorial candidates clashed on the controversial SAFE-T Act. Despite repeated requests, Pritzker failed to answer what changes he would like to see to the law, though he has previously said the law needs adjustments. Bailey, who has criticized the bill’s provisions and called for its repeal, said he would support passing bail reform for non-violent offenders.

On abortion, Sen. Bailey refused to say if he would seek a ban on non-life threatening abortions but defended his previous statement comparing abortion deaths to the Holocaust.

During the debate, Gov. Pritzker cited his many accomplishments in office, such as implementing various tax relief programs, balancing the budget, raising the minimum wage, legalizing cannabis, and making Chicago a sanctuary city. Bailey responded by reiterating previous accusations that Pritzker has failed to make significant progress on state issues over the last four years.

Pritzker, who has raised speculation that he might seek the presidency, said he “intended” to serve four more years as governor and, if reelected, would support President Joe Biden for another term.

Cook County Board President Preckwinkle’s budget address

On Thursday, October 7, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle proposed her budget for Fiscal Year 2023. The $8.75 billion balanced budget contains no cuts to critical services and marks the seventh year in a row with no tax increase. Additionally, the projected preliminary budget gap is the lowest gap since Preckwinkle took office, at $18.2 million.

Using federal relief funding from the American Rescue Plan, Preckwinkle highlighted some of the many initiatives within the 2023 budget, including $42 million for a guaranteed income pilot program, $71 million to small businesses, $20 million to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for the Stormwater Management Program, $20 million to improve infrastructure, and $170 million over the next three years to Cook County Health.

President Preckwinkle’s full budget address can be found here.

The budget proposal will be followed by weeks of hearings and negotiations with the County Board.

Preckwinkle is running for a fourth term leading the County Board and will face Republican nominee Bob Fioretti and Libertarian Thea Thsatsos on November 8 in the general election.


Pritzker administration announces latest round of Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives, providing over $70 million to increase access and equity in healthcare statewide: “The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services has chosen six healthcare collaboratives for the State Fiscal Year 2023 cycle of the Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives program, which aims to close gaps in healthcare services and eliminate the barriers to access and inequities that persist in Illinois’ healthcare system,” from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Preckwinkle opponent Bob Fioretti criticizes growth in county budget, opposes guaranteed income plan, wants to freeze hiring: “Preckwinkle, a Democrat, is running for a fourth term leading the County Board against Republican nominee Bob Fioretti and Libertarian Thea Tsatsos,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Alexi Giannoulias and Dan Brady offer differing visions for Illinois secretary of state’s office: “The major party candidates for Illinois secretary of state in November’s election squared off Wednesday on issues including modernizing the office, traffic safety and voting rights in an effort to make the case for why voters should choose them to succeed longtime officeholder Jesse White,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Business leaders embrace clean energy transition, but caution alternative sources need to be proven first: “Executives from LS Power and CITGO spoke at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting in Chicago Thursday on the state’s clean energy transition. The chamber opposed the passage of CEJA but the chamber’s President Todd Maisch said he’s in favor of clean energy sources, while businesses’ leaders outlined business’ views on the transition,” by The Daily Line.

Gov. Pritzker Announces $119 Million Investment in Western Illinois University: “Governor JB Pritzker today joined state and local officials to announce a $119 million investment for the construction of a Center for Performing Arts (CPA) at Western Illinois University. The funding is made possible by the Governor’s historic bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan,” from the Office of Gov. JB Pritzker.

Gov. Pritzker announces milestone for Rebuild Illinois capital plan; Local governments receive $250 million for transportation needs: “Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation Thursday announced that the sixth and final $250 million installment as part of the historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program is being made to counties, municipalities and townships to address local transportation needs,” from the Illinois Department of Transportation.


City Council budget hearings kick off Thursday

The City Council’s 12 days of budget hearings began Thursday with an overview of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed $16.4 billion spending plan from city budget and finance officials.

This marks the beginning of hearings spanning over two weeks where aldermen will have the chance to ask leaders of city departments about the proposed 2023 budget released Monday by Lightfoot’s administration.

The city aldermen used their first day of hearings to urge the administration to establish a Department of the Environment as well as to call for more resources for their offices and staff.

Lightfoot’s proposed budget eliminates the initially proposed $42.7 million property tax increase due to better-than-expected revenues in 2022. The $260 million budget surplus has also allowed Mayor Lightfoot to allocate $242 million toward paying future pensions.

City department leaders will face budget related questions from aldermen through October 24, 2022, according to the budget schedule. The 2023 Management and Revenue ordinances will be introduced at the City Council meeting on October 26, 2022 and considered in committee the following week. Final passage of the full budget package is expected to occur on Monday, November 7, 2022.


Chicago Tribune will no longer make endorsements for top offices: “Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that owns the Tribune, announced that its nearly 200 papers will no longer endorse major political candidates,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Lightfoot’s budget doesn’t include funding to extend Chicago’s basic income program beyond one year: “A direct cash assistance program to boost the income of 5,000 struggling Chicagoans with a $500 monthly check won’t be funded for a second year beginning in 2023, city officials told aldermen Thursday,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Lightfoot proposes $5 million fund for arriving migrants: “Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed a $5 million ‘contingency’ fund in her 2023 budget to help with future costs for migrants as buses full of asylum seekers continue to arrive from Texas, in what Democrats and immigrant rights groups have widely criticized as an inhumane political stunt,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to build tiny home communities in Chicago: “Lightfoot used her annual budget address on Monday to announce she’d dedicate $3 million from the city’s multi-year “Chicago Recovery Plan” budget — a mix of federal and bond funding announced last year -– to create an affordable housing initiative that uses small homes to house people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a stable place to live,” by WBEZ Chicago.

Community organizers call on Lightfoot administration to address environmental justice complaint: “Community organizers and local leaders are urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to negotiate a resolution to an environmental justice complaint after the federal government threatened to block millions of dollars in federal aid to Chicago,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Mayor Lightfoot Announces Grant Recipients for Community Healing Projects: “Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chief Equity Officer Candace Moore, and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Commissioner Erin Harkey announced the grantees of the Together We Heal Creative Place Program, a $5.5 million investment in creative projects that promote racial healing and transformation in Chicago’s neighborhoods,” from the Office of Mayor Lightfoot.


Cozen Currents: Do Election Polls Matter Anymore? 

  • Everyone loves to hate polls, and with some good reason. But as the midterms near, they provide an important, yet limited, tool for gauging the election.
  • The conventional wisdom is that gridlock will block the passage of anything except must-pass bills. Yet there is room for bipartisan legislation to advance under a divided government on a handful of meaningful issues, including Big Tech, crypto, and telehealth, just to name a few.
  • Although a divided government will still present opportunities for bipartisan legislative achievements, the Democratic agenda will now shift increasingly to focus on regulatory policy.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.


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