Illinois Insights: An update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (11/30)

November 30, 2022


Chicago area returns to medium COVID risk: “Chicago and the surrounding counties are back to a medium COVID-19 community risk level as of Monday, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.


Pritzker unveils deal to pay off $1.4B in unemployment fund debt

Gov. JB Pritzker announced in Springfield on Tuesday a bipartisan agreement to pay off more than $1 billion in remaining debt to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund – to replenish the fund for the future and to secure benefits for working families.

Subject to approval from the General Assembly, Pritzker intends to allot a total of $1.8 billion to the fund: $1.36 billion to pay off what remains of the $4.5 billion debt to the federal government from the COVID-19 pandemic and $450 million into the unemployment trust fund as an interest-free loan from the state. As the loan is repaid by business taxes over the next decade, the funds would be deposited directly into the state’s rainy-day fund, rather than being spent.

Backed by legislators from both parties, the unemployment fund deal would save taxpayers an estimated $20 million in interest costs that would be due next September and preserve hundreds of millions of dollars in future federal tax credits for Illinois employers. In the absence of a deal, state businesses could expect to pay upwards of $900 million in additional taxes over the next five years.

Amid fears of a recession, state finances have remained stronger than expected. This proposal is the third from the governor’s office attempting to diminish the federal debt owed by the state. At least part of the deal is expected to be passed by state legislators before they adjourn for the year on Thursday.


Former Cook County Land Bank Authority worker charged with property scam: “The charges come more than a year after a federal grand jury subpoenaed the agency in May 2021 seeking records on Mustafaa Saleh and two dozen properties the land bank obtained and sold,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

Illinois at heart of railroad labor dispute: “President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to intervene to prevent an economically crippling freight rail strike, even though it means delivering a defeat to his allies in the labor movement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately announced she will call a vote this week to carry out Biden’s request, which will mean that paid sick leave for the 115,000 workers involved in negotiations won’t be included in the deal,” by Capitol Fax.


Ald. Edward Burke (14) won’t seek reelection

After serving on the City Council for more than 50 years, Ald. Edward Burke quietly chose not to seek reelection for his 14th Ward seat.

Burke did not file nominating petitions by Monday’s deadline to run for what would have been a record 15th term in City Council, ultimately pulling his name out of contention for next year’s election.

City Hall’s longest-serving alderman and member of six City Council committees was indicted in 2019 on 14 counts of bribery, attempted extortion, and racketeering. He is set to stand trial in November 2023.

Ald. Burke’s wife, Anne Burke, also recently announced her retirement from the Illinois Supreme Court in September after serving on the high court since 2006 and holding the position of chief justice since 2019. Today marks her last day on the bench.

Two candidates have filed to succeed Burke and represent the 14th Ward next year: Jeylu B. Gutierrez and Raul Reyes. Gutierrez is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Chicago), who filed his petitions to run for mayor on Monday.


Business leaders to form political action committee to prevent City Council from making sharp left turn: “Mike Ruemmler, who managed former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2015 reelection campaign, said Tuesday he plans to file paperwork in the next two weeks to form an independent expenditure committee bankrolled by business leaders for the purpose of electing moderate alderpersons determined to be, as he put it, ‘workhorses—not show horses,’” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

As candidates for Chicago mayor jockey for union support, ‘Chuy’ García lands a big labor endorsement: “In a boost to his campaign for Chicago mayor, U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García has picked up an endorsement from IUOE Local 150, one of the state’s most influential labor unions,” by The Chicago Tribune.

As Mayor Lori Lightfoot runs again, a look at who’s backing her and who’s looking elsewhere: “As Lightfoot faces a crowded field for reelection, previous supporters are questioning whether they’ll vote for her again,” by WBEZ.

Ald. Scott Waguespack Will Run Unopposed To Represent Bucktown, West Lakeview: “Waguespack was first elected to City Council in 2007. He’s become a close ally of Mayor Lori Lightfoot since endorsing her in 2019,” by Block Club Chicago.


Cozen Currents: The Fed, Crypto, and Big Tech Race Post-Election Politics

  • The election may be over, but the politics for Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell and his Fed colleagues are just getting more complicated as they seek to bring down inflation.
  • FTX’s collapse could grease the wheels of the bureaucracy to produce a range of new oversight of the industry, from legislation to rulemakings to more aggressive enforcement.
  • Big Tech is coming under greater scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats. Deep divides lie between them though over what issues are of greatest concern, which makes forging bipartisan action challenging. But some common ground does exist and could still serve as the basis for turning pointed rhetoric into action.

Read the full Cozen Currents article here.

Beltway Briefing: End of an Era, Pelosi Steps Down

Democrats’ strongest showing in a presidential midterm in the last two decades enabled them to retain control of the Senate. After more than a week of vote counting, Republicans secured a slender majority in the House on Wednesday, a delayed yet consequential finish to the 2022 midterm elections that will reorder the balance of power in Washington and is certain to complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to enact parts of the President’s legislative agenda for the next two years. After leading the House Democrats since 2003, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she will step down next year from her spot at the top of the party, leading to a seismic change on Capitol Hill.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Bill Wins Senate Passage: “The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex marriages, an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide,” by NBC 5 Chicago.


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