Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (2/24)

February 24, 2023

PUBLIC HEALTH 

IDPH Reports 20 Illinois Counties at an Elevated Community Level for COVID-19, from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

ILLINOIS

Illinois receives credit upgrade

On Thursday, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that the state had received a credit upgrade from S&P Global Ratings, its third upgrade since July 2021 and seventh consecutive upgrade in the last two years.

S&P Global upgraded Illinois’ rating on its General Obligation bonds from BBB+ (stable outlook) to A- (stable outlook), and also upgraded Build Illinois sales tax bonds from A- (stable outlook) to A (stable outlook). This marks the state’s highest rating in nearly a decade.

“The upgrade on the GO (general obligation) debt reflects our view that Illinois’ commitment and execution to strengthen its budgetary flexibility and stability, supported by accelerating repayment of its liabilities, rebuilding its Budget Stabilization Fund to decade highs; and a slowing of statutory pension funding growth, will likely continue during the outlook period,” S&P Global said.

AROUND THE STATE 

GOP lawmakers make proposals for Choate while decrying Pritzker’s handling of troubled downstate mental health center: “Decrying Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration’s response to the systemic mistreatment of residents of a downstate mental health center, GOP lawmakers on Thursday laid out a plan to address the long-standing issues,” by the Chicago Tribune.

Election board to probe Dan Proft PAC spending in governor’s race: “The Illinois State Board of Elections has taken the first step to probe whether a political spending group run by Chicago political activist and talk radio host Dan Proft illegally colluded with GOP gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey in last year’s election,” by Crain’s Chicago Business.

CHICAGO 

AFSCME, Lightfoot administration reach tentative agreement 

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, represented by AFSCME Local 31 in Chicago, reached a tentative agreement with the Lightfoot administration today after the union representing more than 3,000 city workers in almost every department threatened to strike.

The union’s previous contract, which was set to end June 30 of last year, had been temporarily extended several times. The latest extension expires Saturday, ending the temporary ban on work stoppages and allowing the union to begin the internal process to authorize a strike.

Today, Mayor Lightfoot and AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said in a joint statement: “We are pleased to announce that negotiators for the City and the union have reached a tentative agreement that will improve the economic security and working lives of thousands of Chicago’s dedicated frontline employees. These workers are critically important to our city and impact every major department of City government. We have all worked together diligently to ensure that their efforts to help keep our city moving forward are recognized and valued. Terms of the agreement will be released after union members have the opportunity to review and vote on its ratification.”

MORE FROM CITY HALL 

Loop sees its population continue to grow during the pandemic, report finds: “Population in the Loop rose throughout the pandemic, maintaining the neighborhood’s status as the fastest-growing area in the city, according to a report released Thursday by the Chicago Loop Alliance,” by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Zoning committee gives OK to 2 office buildings, 370-unit residential building: “A key City Council committee on Thursday approved proposals for two new mixed-use office buildings in Fulton Market and a 370-unit residential building with 74 affordable units on the Near West Side. The City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards met virtually Thursday, marking the last scheduled council committee meeting before Tuesday’s election. Aldermen unanimously approved a proposal (O2023-47) from Vista Property Group to build a 15-story mixed-use office building at 640 W. Randolph St. in the 42nd Ward,” by The Daily Line.

FEDERAL 

Cozen Currents: Threading the Needle

  • With Nikki Haley announcing her bid for the presidency last week, she represents the first of what will likely be several more announcements this year. Right now, the biggest unanswered question is whether the GOP will embrace Trump or Trumpism.
  • America faces a near-term crisis of the debt ceiling and a long-term crisis of debt. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is stuck in the middle trying to find a way forward for his party (and himself).
  • President Biden is trying to have the best of both worlds when it comes to his stance toward China by promoting diplomacy while still pursuing decoupling actions, but heightened domestic political competition on the issue is constraining his foreign policy options.

Read the full Cozen Currents here.

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