Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (11/7)

November 7, 2022


IDPH Announces Distribution of 1 Million Free COVID-19 Rapid Tests for Vulnerable Illinoisans, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.


City Council approves Mayor Lightfoot’s 2023 Budget

The Chicago City Council voted today to approve Mayor Lightfoot’s fourth and final budget 32-18. The City Council also approved a separate $1.7 billion property tax levy by a 29-21 vote.

In early October, Mayor Lightfoot unveiled her $16.4 billion 2023 budget proposal. Days prior to her budget address, Lightfoot announced she would forgo an initially proposed $42.7 million property tax hike that was likely to be opposed by aldermen, citing the City’s “strong revenue performance throughout the course of 2022,” which was $260 million above previous projections.

Mayor Lightfoot’s “stability” budget not only closes a $128 million budget gap using a combination of the extra revenue, $56 million in surplus from tax-increment financing (TIF) districts, and a $40 million upfront payment from Bally’s as part of the Chicago casino deal but also sets aside an additional $242 million toward beginning “a new pension fund policy of prepaying future pension obligations.”

Additionally, the FY2023 budget prioritizes new and continued investments focused on community revitalization and systemic transformation, including $100 million for additional public safety measures, $10 million to modernize technology infrastructure within City government, and $200 million for homelessness prevention.

During the City Council Committee on Budget and Government Operations’ 12 budget hearings this past month, aldermen asked questions and added their own recommendations to the proposed budget, with progressive aldermen especially urging Mayor Lightfoot to follow through on her 2019 campaign promise to restore the Department of Environment and conservative aldermen calling for increased CPD recruitment tactics and incentives for veteran police officers.

Lightfoot amended the plan last week to remove her originally proposed Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environment Equity out from under her office and into a standalone office, staffed with 10 employees and a budget of $967,060. Still, however, some aldermen say it is not enough. “There’s not a part of our planning as a city or in our wards that isn’t impacted by climate change,” Ald. Hadden (49) said.

Ald. Sophia King (4) and Ald. Ray Lopez (15) – two of three aldermen who have announced bids to run for mayor against Lightfoot in February’s municipal elections – voted no. Ald. Tom Tunney (44), who is also considering a run, voted no and criticized a “lack of leadership” in the city.


—  After descent into alcoholism cost him City Council seat, Proco Joe Moreno hits the comeback trail: “Former Chicago Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) is talking openly about the alcohol-fueled downward spiral that cost him his City Council seat and nearly denied him his freedom. Moreno, 50, is trying to reclaim the job he lost to Ald. Daniel LaSpata after a self-destructive string of scandals that derailed his once-bright future,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.

With City Council Poised to Borrow $1.85B to Fund 2nd Phase of Infrastructure Plan, Results of 1st Phase Unclear: “The Chicago City Council is poised to approve a plan to borrow $1.85 billion to fund the second phase of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to repair Chicago’s crumbling streets, sidewalks, bridges and shoreline in 2023 and 2024, but it is unclear what the first phase of the city’s infrastructure plan has accomplished,” by WTTW.

CPS faces $600M financial cliff as costs shift to schools with no long-term funding plan in place: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot has moved millions in pensions and other costs to CPS before it becomes independent, run by an elected board. Those new payments and longstanding financial challenges could lead to dire choices once federal pandemic relief runs out,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.


Conservative PAC leader Dan Proft, Darren Bailey campaign accused of unlawful coordination

On Friday, the Democratic Party of Illinois filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections against gubernatorial candidate Darren Bailey (R) and Dan Proft, the conservative leader of the Bailey-aligned political action committee (PAC) People Who Play By the Rules.

The complaint accuses Proft of “consistently” acting in “cooperation, consultation, or concert” with Bailey’s campaign, despite state law prohibiting PACs from coordinating spending activities with any candidate’s campaign efforts.

According to the complaint, Proft’s communications “indicate some level of coordination, such that these expenditures are not independent and are instead illegal in-kind (non-monetary) contributions to the Bailey Campaign.”

Proft said the allegations are “frivolous.” Bailey campaign spokesman Joe DeBose called it a “desperate attempt by the Pritzker campaign and the [Chicago] Tribune to distract from Bailey’s positive momentum at the close of the election.”

The People Who Play By the Rules PAC is almost entirely funded by national conservative mega donor Richard Uihlein, the billionaire founder of the Uline office supply and packaging firm.


Pritzker enlists help from VP Harris for second time this year as governor makes his final case to voters for a second term: “Vice President Kamala Harris visited Chicago for the second time in less than two months to stump for Gov. JB Pritzker just two days before voters will decide whether Pritzker should get a second term as governor. While midterms are often seen as a referendum on the president’s party, Harris was not shy about touting the Biden Administration’s record over the last two years, pointing student loan forgiveness, efforts to lower prescription drug prices and an infrastructure bill, which she said delivered funds for key improvements in Chicago,” by The Daily Line.

As Election Day nears, officials across Illinois boost security amid fear of violence: “Election officials across Illinois offer a variety of answers about security and precautions being taken for the Nov. 8 elections and what, if any, harassment or intimidation they’ve received. Some say they haven’t felt tremors from the national threats. Still, many acknowledge there’s been a sea change in how elections are perceived by the public, and they know Illinois isn’t immune,” by The Chicago Tribune.

Arlington Heights board to vote Monday on ‘road map’ agreement for Bears development: “Arlington Heights village board members will cast their votes Monday on an agreement with the Chicago Bears that could pave the way to the NFL franchise’s long-sought suburban relocation,” by Daily Herald.


Beltway Briefing: What’s At Stake On Election Day

The 2022 midterm elections could be the most consequential in years. Every seat in the House of Representatives is up for grabs, as are 35 Senate seats and 36 governorships. Several more down-ballot races for secretary of state, attorney general, or control of state legislatures could have wide-ranging effects on the 2024 presidential elections and hot-button issues like abortion rights, health care, and climate change.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.


Tight congressional races attract attention from top D.C. leaders: “Political sites tracking the races show some in Illinois are tight. Real Clear Politics lists the 6th, 13th, and 14th Congressional Districts as a toss-up and the 17th Congressional District as leans Republican. The Cook Political Report only names the 17th district as a toss-up, while the 6th, 13th and 14th districts lean Democrat. FiveThirtyEight puts each district in the Democrats’ category,” by The Daily Line.

Biden in Illinois to stump for Underwood, Casten; ‘not buying’ that Democrats headed for midterm losses: “Speaking in Rosemont, the president ticked off his administration’s signature legislative achievements on infrastructure, climate and lowering the cost of prescription drugs,” by The Chicago Sun-Times.


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