WEEKLY UPDATE – Sept 18, 2020

On Tuesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that he advised his administration to prepare for a “nightmare scenario” of budget cuts if Congress does not pass a stimulus bill that includes financial support for state and local governments. Budget cuts could be at least 5% for the current fiscal year and 10% cut for the next year, causing thousands of workers to be laid off. Pritzker said that “middle class, working class, and poor families […] will likely suffer,” due to cuts that will affect public safety, education, human services, and environmental safety across the state. State agency were given until October 2 to submit their proposed cuts in order to meet the 5% reduction for the current year. Additionally, the governor told his staff to submit a spending outline for fiscal year 2022 which would reflect the predicted 10% reduction. Last fall, Pritzker had asked for similar proposals for 6.5% cuts to departments, but the cuts were not included in this year’s budget. This fiscal year’s $43 billion spending plan signed in June relies heavily on the federal aid – an element that state Republicans were very critical of. This budget allows for borrowing of maximum $5 billion from the Federal Reserve. So far, the state has only borrowed $1.2 billion in June. The State is also seeking a relaxation of the rules governing the spending of the $3.5 billion in federal aid from earlier in the year, which is restricted to expenses directly related to COVID-19 response.

Will and Kankakee counties in Region 7 have seen a decline in COVID positivity rates. This Wednesday, the region saw their positivity rate dip below the 6.5% threshold for the first time since the stricter rules have been instituted in the region. Soon, the region may be able to reopen bars and indoor dining if this declining trend continues. If the region is able to stay below the 6.5% marker for three consecutive days, they will be able to continue to phase four of the reopening plan.

The Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has announced a second round of funding that includes $220 million in grants that will be available for small businesses all across Illinois. The grants will be given through the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program enacted this spring. Applications became available September 17th for all businesses wanting to apply. This grant aims to provide relief for all businesses in Illinois, but will heavily focus on downstate businesses, those in disproportionally impacted areas, and those in heavily-impacted industries. A list of provisions ensuring that these areas receive priority consideration can be found on the DCEO’s website here. Those businesses who do not fall under these categories will still be considered, but will be reviewed later than priority businesses.

The Special Investigating Committee investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan has been given approval by the U.S. Attorney’s office to proceed with its work, with a tentative next hearing date set for September 28th. On Tuesday, two members of the committee, Democrat Rep. Welch and Republican Rep. Demmer, both confirmed that they had spoken with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John Lausch, who had given them clearance to call witnesses. Although both claimed to have spoken to Lausch, the two representatives differ in their interpretations of the conversation. Demmer claims that the U.S. Attorney’s office does not object to the work of the committee, nor to the calling of witnesses, including Speaker Madigan. Welch, on the other hand, states that they were given clearance to call testimony from anyone, but to refrain from “seeking any materials or testimony related to the [deferred prosecution agreement] that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government,” which will limit the questions the committee can ask of witnesses. Lausch’s own summary of the conversation, released Thursday, said he did not have a “general objection” to the committee’s work, but warned that it cannot ask witnesses about any grand jury proceedings or communications with federal prosecutors related to the federal criminal investigation. If Lausch has a specific objection to a certain request, he will raise at that time.


Important Upcoming Dates  Statewide

  • November 3, 2020 – Election Day
  • November 17-19, 2020 – First week of Veto Session
  • December 1-3, 2020 – Second week of Veto Session
  • December 15, 2020 – Final Day for Local Government to Submit Reimbursement Requests to DCEO


In the News

Pritzker doubles down on decision to postpone high school sports as 1,941 new COVID-19 cases reported in stateReview Atlas, September 16, 2020
As the Big Ten prepares to start a fall football season, Gov. JB Pritzker said the time still isn’t right for high school football games to be played because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus. At a Chicago briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, Pritzker said that while some professional and college sports have gone on during the pandemic, both are taking precautions that are beyond the means of most high schools to implement. They included frequent (sometimes daily) testing of athletes, robust sanitizing procedures and in some cases isolation of athletes.

State Of Illinois Joins Black Chamber Of Commerce Of Illinois - Riverbender, September 17, 2020
DCEO joined the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois (BCC), small businesses and members of the community in launching work to build a brand-new, state-of-the-art business incubator serving Decatur and the broader Central Illinois region. As the region’s first incubator of its kind, the INC Spot will serve as a site to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs with space, technology and the resources necessary to launch and grow a business for success.

Pritzker extends statewide eviction moratorium for 30 days — Chicago Tribune, September 16, 2020
The last extension of the statewide eviction moratorium Pritzker ordered earlier this year was due to expire later this week. Despite the moratorium being in place for months, in addition to a federal stoppage of many evictions through the remainder of this year, some Chicago area tenants who have struggled to pay their rent have said they’ve received eviction notices from their landlords. “We will use every legal tool at our disposal to keep people safe and healthy and employed and housed,” Pritzker said Wednesday.

Former state Sen. Terry Link pleads guilty to tax evasion charge in federal courtHerald & Review, September 16, 2020
Disgraced former state Sen. Terry Link pleaded guilty Wednesday to filing a false income tax return, memorializing what he agreed to do when he first wore a wire to get material on then-Rep. Luis Arroyo more than a year ago. As a mastermind behind much of Springfield’s gambling legislation, there’s no telling what Link knows. As a cooperating witness, he could testify against Arroyo should that case go to trial. Arroyo, who also resigned his House seat, has pleaded not guilty to trying to bribe a senator to introduce legislation that would legalize sweepstakes gambling machines. Additional charges are pending.

House Republicans call for public hearings of IDESNews Channel, September 16, 2020
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Illinois Republicans called for public hearings of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) after months of dysfunction. Reps. Tom Bennett, R- Gibson City, Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, and Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, came together to ask for more public input. They said their offices are still receiving hundreds of calls and emails every week from people who can't get their unemployment issues resolved. They are also requesting public hearings for IDES regarding the failures of the organization during the pandemic.

Recreational Marijuana Sales Hit New Record High In Illinois, And Number Is Expected To Keep Rising - CBS Chicago, September 15, 2020
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker warned Tuesday that the state’s finances are in dire shape, but at least the state can count on weed for some extra cash flow. Recreational marijuana sales just set a new record high – nearly $64 million worth of cannabis was sold last month. And as CBS 2’s Meredith Barack reported Tuesday evening, those numbers are expected to keep growing.

Pritzker warns of ‘nightmare scenario’ of cuts in policing, schools — and thousands of layoffs — without federal fundsChicago Sun-Time, September 15, 2020
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that his cabinet directors have been advised to prepare for a “nightmare scenario” that includes budget cuts of at least 5% for the current fiscal year and a 10% cut for the next one if Washington doesn’t help out. Thousands of people could be laid off if the state doesn’t receive federal support, the governor said. At a Tuesday news conference called to announce $220 million in grants for small businesses, the Democratic governor said he hopes President Donald Trump will “agree to work with Congress to advance the COVID relief package” that would replace revenues that cities and states have lost during the pandemic.

Business Owners Hurt By Coronavirus Can Apply For State Grant Starting ThursdayBlock Club Chicago, September 15, 2020
Business owners hurt by coronavirus can apply for grants from the state starting Thursday. The state is opening up applications for the second round of Business Interruption Grants to help entrepreneurs who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state plans to dole out $220 million in all this round, and it’s reserved $70 million for business owners in communities it’s deemed to be “disproportionately impacted.” That includes a number of ZIP codes in Chicago.

Top Republicans are backing a Democrat in this Illinois Supreme Court raceCrain’s Chicago Business, September 15, 2020
In an odd turn in a key race, much of the state’s GOP legal establishment is endorsing Justice Thomas Kilbride for a new term on the Illinois Supreme Court, even though he’s a Democrat and the highly partisan issue of legislative reapportionment may soon come before the panel. In a letter released by his campaign, Kilbride, who is up for retention in his west central Illinois district, won the backing of former Chief Justices Ben Miller and Robert Thomas, former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, former U.S. Attorneys Dan Webb and Anton Valukas, and ex-Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, among others.

Madigan’s war chest is overflowingCrain’s Chicago Business, September 15, 2020
Despite one of the biggest scandals of his tenure, House Speaker Mike Madigan’s campaign coffers are the biggest they’ve ever been, with roughly $25 million cash on hand going into the final stretch of the 2020 election season, according to campaign finance records. Madigan controls four campaign funds, the largest of which—Friends of Michael J Madigan—raised roughly $10 million in the last year alone, despite federal raids on the homes and offices of many of Madigan’s closest associates launching in summer 2019. That committee has raised $1 million since the ComEd deferred prosecution agreement implicated Madigan in July, with big donations from the Chicago Land Operators Joint Labor-Management PAC, LiUNA Chicago Laborers District Council and the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters PAC.

U.S. attorney’s office gives legislative panel investigating Madigan the green light to call witnessesChicago Tribune, September 14, 2020
The U.S. attorney’s office told state lawmakers probing the conduct of House Speaker Michael Madigan it had no objections to the panel calling on Madigan or others to testify, members of the committee said. The state House special investigative committee launched its investigation of Madigan over the federal Commonwealth Edison bribery case last week. Three Republican committee members submitted a voluntary witness list that included Madigan and several other people who have been implicated in the federal investigation, including former ComEd executives and lobbyists.

Labor unions form Climate Jobs Illinois coalitionCapitol Fax, September 15, 2020
Illinois labor groups today launched the Climate Jobs Illinois coalition to advocate for a pro-worker, pro-climate agenda. The coalition will push for a thoughtful but ambitious clean energy transition through practical policies that create union jobs in the clean energy sector to lower the state’s high unemployment rate, reduce its emissions and close the growing income inequality gap in disadvantaged communities. The coalition represents hundreds of thousands of Illinois working men and women who are best suited to build Illinois’ new clean-energy economy from the ground up. 

More than 4,000 University of Illinois health system workers go on strike, joining nurses, in second walkout in less than a weekChicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2020
More than 4,000 workers at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, its medical schools and the university went on strike Monday morning after failing to reach a contract. They include clerical, technical, building and maintenance, and professional employees at the University of Illinois at Chicago and UI Health, which includes the Chicago hospital, clinics and regional medical schools in Peoria, Rockford and Urbana.

How Illinois' income tax compares nationwide, and how a graduated tax could change it Daily Herald, September 12, 2020
Illinois residents making $1.5 million a year pay less in income taxes than their counterparts in all but eight of the 41 states with such a tax. But for people making $60,000 a year, it's a different story. In 24 of the states, those taxpayers pay less than in Illinois. The ratios would shift if voters approve a graduated income tax in November 2020. A graduated tax formula being discussed in Springfield is intended to increase taxes on the rich, reduce taxes on lower- and middle-income taxpayers, and generate billions in new revenue.

Pritzker, Ezike and Arwady talk about the COVID-19 pandemic at 6 months, and look ahead to what might be nextChicago Tribune, September 14, 2020
Six months after he first issued a disaster proclamation tied to the coronavirus pandemic, followed quickly by a stay-at-home order that shut down businesses and kept people inside for months, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he wouldn’t hesitate to act in similar fashion if COVID-19 cases bloom exponentially this fall.

Aldermen propose health-focused ‘crisis response teams’ as an alternative to policeThe Daily Line, September 14, 2020
Aldermen introduced a slew of new legislation this month aimed at getting a handle on the city’s surging crime, ranging from a blueprint for reallocating the city’s police budget to a proposal to crack down on looters and a mass surveillance system pitched to operate out of residents’ doorbells. Ald. Matt Martin (47) and Ald. Maria Hadden (49) joined the City Council’s six Democratic Socialist aldermen to introduce a city order (Or2020-242) calling on the city’s Department of Public Health and budget officials to set up a “Crisis Response and Care System” that would dispatch “24-hour crisis response teams” from a network of mental health centers.

Special legislative committee begins rarely used disciplinary proceeding to look into conduct of House Speaker Michael MadiganChicago Tribune, September 10, 2020
The Illinois House kicked off a rarely used disciplinary process Thursday to probe the conduct of Speaker Michael Madigan in light of allegations that Commonwealth Edison undertook a bribery scheme to gain his favor, with Republicans seeking to hear testimony from the powerful Democrat and former utility executives and lobbyists. House Republican leader Jim Durkin, who petitioned for the probe, asked the six-member panel to decide whether to authorize a charge against Madigan for engaging “in conduct unbecoming to a legislator, or which constitutes a breach of public trust... including engaging in a bribery scheme and extortion scheme, conspiracy to violate federal and state laws, among other misconduct and misuse of the office.”

Illinois’ COVID-19 positive test rate down but hospitalizations rising; Pritzker announces funding to connect unemployed residents with training and jobsChicago Tribune, September 10, 2020
The percentage of positive coronavirus tests appears to be trending downward in Illinois after rising for much of the summer, but state officials remain concerned about stubbornly high positivity rates in certain regions as well as rising hospitalizations. “We can’t outrun this virus. It hasn’t gone away," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday during a news conference at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop. “We can’t pretend that we can fully restore our economic vitality as long as it’s here without any way to temper or prevent it.”

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