Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (2/15)

February 15, 2023


Chicago’s COVID-19 Risk is Low, from the Chicago Department of Public Health.


Gov. Pritzker proposes FY 2024 budget

In his first speech to a joint session of the state House and Senate since before the pandemic began in 2020, Gov. JB Pritzker today proposed his fifth annual state budget in a combined state of the state address.

Pritzker began his speech touting the state’s financial accomplishments during his first term as governor, including the “remarkable” progress made toward stabilizing the state’s finances despite the adversity brought on by COVID-19.

The $49.6 billion budget proposal stressed the need for additional funding in early childhood education, highlighting $250 million worth of investments in a new program dubbed Smart Start Illinois. The program includes an additional $75 million to add 5,000 new preschool slots in Fiscal Year 2024 with a goal of 20,000 over the next four years. The second part of his plan focuses on increasing the quality of childcare by establishing a $130 million contract program to boost wages for childcare workers.

Pritzker’s budget proposal allocates an additional $350 million in K-12 funding, $100 million in MAP grants, and $100 million in public university funding and community college funding.

The proposed budget, which accounts for projections of a mild recession in the coming months and doesn’t include any major tax increases, kicks off a months-long process where state legislators and department heads will finalize the budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The end of the 2023 Illinois General Assembly regular session is scheduled for May 19, and the new budget will take effect July 1.

Find Pritzker’s full remarks as prepared here.


Lawmakers looking at next step for paid leave, aiming for 26 weeks after passage of 5 days bill: “A bill establishing five days of paid leave for all Illinois workers still awaits Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature, but Democrats are already pushing to take paid leave another step further in Illinois by targeting 26 weeks of paid leave. Rep. Sonya Harper (D-Chicago) introduced HB1530 in the House and Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) introduced SB1234 in the Senate. The bills would establish an insurance program paid into by employers to ensure workers can receive up to 26 weeks off each year for a variety of reasons,” by The Daily Line.

New guaranteed income coalition led by Toni Preckwinkle aims to take cash assistance national: “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle joined a coalition of other county leaders in Washington, D.C., on Monday to announce an organized push for federal support of guaranteed income programs. Preckwinkle will serve as co-chair of the new national group, Counties for Guaranteed Income,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Cook County’s delinquent property tax system target of proposed legislation: “Legislation introduced Friday by state Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, would reduce the amount of interest charged on late property tax payments and close a loophole in the state tax code that leads to local governments losing millions of dollars each year to private investors,” by the Chicago Tribune.



Chicago Bears buy Arlington International Racecourse for possible stadium: “The Bears said Wednesday that they have acquired the 326-acre former Arlington International Racecourse as a potential site for a new stadium and a ‘multipurpose entertainment district.’ Bears spokesman Scott Hagel confirmed the sale by Churchill Downs was for $197.2 million, a deal that severs the 95-year-old track’s connection to the horse racing business,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Super PACs playing bigger role in mayor’s race, hiding donors: “The latest committee to join the fray is the New Leadership for Chicago committee, which late last week reported doling out nearly $200,000 so far on digital media in support of García’s run for mayor, according to campaign finance records. The similarly named Chicago Leadership Committee has spent more than $165,000 on TV and digital ads for Vallas’ mayoral bid,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Lightfoot steps up attacks on Johnson, hoping to purge his surge: ‘Brandon’s not better. Brandon is bad for Chicago’: “With money pouring into his $3.1 million campaign fund, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson has been blanketing the airwaves with commercials touting his plan to ‘invest in people.’ The mayor counters that his tax-the-rich plan will drive business from the city,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago DSA rescinds endorsement of Bawany in 50th Ward race: “The Chicago chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) confirmed Tuesday it has rescinded its endorsement of Mueze Bawany in the race for 50th Ward alderman. Chicago DSA’s Executive Committee met Monday night and voted to pull back the endorsement of Bawany in the Far North Side race. Bawany is the only challenger to Ald. Debra Silverstein (50) who has been in office since 2011,” by The Daily Line.

Driven by Mail-In Ballots, Early Voting Up By More Than 400% in Chicago Municipal Elections: “According to the latest data released by the Chicago Board of Elections on Tuesday, city voters have cast 63,949 ballots so far during this election season. That represents an increase of more than 400% from the 12,607 ballots that had been cast by this point in the 2019 election cycle,” by NBC 5 Chicago.


Beltway Briefing: The State of the Union Is …

On Tuesday night, President Biden delivered his second State of the Union address, and his first before a joint session of the newly divided Congress, with Republicans in control of the House after they reclaimed the majority in the 2022 midterms.  Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered a GOP response, drawing a sharp contrast with Biden.

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, Patrick Martin, and Towner French discuss the key takeaways from the President’s address, which seemed less about the usual laundry list of policy priorities and more about Biden building the political narrative for his all but certain re-election campaign.

Listen to the full Beltway Briefing here.

Cozen Currents: The State of the States

  • America’s federalist system has often left state governments overshadowed by what happens at the federal level. But states today are a potent force for influencing the national agenda and policymaking in their own right.
  • In states where Democrats hold unified control of government, they are charging ahead on issues including labor and climate where they can go farther than their federal counterparts.
  • Red states may not be the economic powerhouses that blue states are, but their politics still have a significant influence on policy discussions at the federal level.

Read the Cozen Currents article here.


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