Insight on Illinois

As we watch the COVID numbers slowly improve and the pace of vaccinations slowly increase, there is a sense that state and local governments can soon begin to function as they did pre-COVID. In Springfield, lawmakers gathered in the House Chamber for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic to approve the rules of the House submitted by newly-minted Speaker Welch. Those rules, and the manner in which they are implemented, will give life to the changeover from Speaker Madigan’s tenure. For now, it appears that legislative power will be more decentralized than under Speaker Madigan. The new rules present opportunities for movement on a variety of legislative issues, with significant implications for Illinois citizens and the business community. 

Here are some of the things we are watching now:

Governor Pritzker Releases Preview of FY2022 Budget Proposal

  • In advance of his budget address on February 17, Governor JB Pritzker has released a first look at his upcoming FY 2022 budget
  • Following the failure of the Governor’s graduated income tax constitutional amendment on November ballots, the Governor has announced he doesn’t intend to raise state income taxes in 2022
  • The budget proposal includes $900 million in increased revenue from closing corporate tax loopholes
  • The FY22 budget deficit is estimated to be $3 billion

Shake-Ups in Chicago City Council

  • At the beginning of February, Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas announced he would be stepping down as Mayor Lightfoot’s floor leader
  • South Side Alderman Michelle Harris will become the Mayor’s new floor leader, tasked with championing the Mayor’s agenda in the City Council
  • Villegas had only held the position since 2019, a departure in tenure from the last floor leader, former Alderman Patrick O’Connor, who served as floor leader for both Mayor Richard M. Daley and successor Mayor Rahm Emanuel

New Illinois House Rules

  • Speaker of the Illinois House Emanuel “Chris” Welch put forth his long-awaited house rules on Monday in House Resolution 72 and they were adopted by the chamber on Wednesday
  • The biggest change in the newly proposed rules is a 10-year term limit for House Speakers
  • Under new rules, the House would also be able to conduct remote committee hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic

Upcoming Meetings

  • Wednesday, February 17th – Governor’s Budget Address
  • Friday, February 19th – Deadline for Introduction of Substantive Bills
  • Wednesday, February 24th, 10 a.m. – City Council Meeting
  • Thursday, February 25th, 10 a.m. – Cook County Board of Commissioners

News of the Week

Gov. J.B. Pritzker won’t seek to raise income taxes or overall spending in budget he’ll propose to lawmakers next weekChicago Tribune

Coming off the defeat of his signature graduated-rate income tax proposal in November, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is preparing to present a budget plan to lawmakers next week that doesn’t increase overall state spending or raise the flat-rate income tax from the current 4.95%.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s Budget Plan Won’t Push For An Income Tax Hike For Next YearWBEZ

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s 2022 state budget proposal won’t include an income tax hike, but it will seek the elimination of $900 million in business tax credits and aims to hold spending at current levels, the governor’s office said Tuesday. The Democratic governor will present his budget outline on Feb. 17. It’s Pritzker’s first spending plan since the November defeat of his constitutional amendment to impose a graduated income tax.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s City Council floor leader resigns from leadership postChicago Tribune

In a surprise move, Mayor Lori Lightfoot will replace her hand-picked floor leader, Ald. Gilbert Villegas, with veteran South Side Ald. Michelle Harris. Villegas announced his resignation Tuesday in a letter to constituents. Hours later, Lightfoot announced Harris’ new role and said she would appoint a deputy floor leader, Southwest Side Ald. George Cardenas, to work with Harris.

Harris faces uphill battle as Lightfoot’s new City Council floor leaderChicago Sun-Times

Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) knows how to clean up somebody else’s mess from the three years she spent as sanitation superintendent in her ward. Now she’ll try to do the same for Mayor Lori Lightfoot — by cleaning up the mess the mayor made of her relationship with the City Council.

Chicago Teachers Union approves school reopening plan, CPS in-person classes resume Thursday: ‘We got what we were able to take’Chicago Tribune

Chicago Teachers Union members have voted two-to-one in favor of a reopening deal with Chicago Public Schools, signaling that in-person classes can resume Thursday as planned. The union’s 25,000 members had through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to vote on the proposed framework after its 600-member House of Delegates on Monday decided to put the decision in members’ hands. Now ratified, it is a binding agreement between CTU and CPS.

Welch proposes limiting state House speaker’s tenure to less than a third of the time Madigan servedChicago Sun-Times

Keeping one of his first campaign promises, new Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch proposed rules for his chamber Monday that would impose term limits on himself or anyone elected to the speaker’s post in the future. Welch, who was chosen by his Democratic colleagues last month to replace longstanding House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, proposes to prohibit anyone from being elected to the speaker’s post for more than five terms.

Democrats' proposed rules establish House speaker term limits, fail to satisfy RepublicansState Journal-Register

Recognizing the risks of in-person meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, new rules proposed by the Illinois House’s Democratic majority would allow lawmakers for the first time to meet remotely for committee meetings. The proposed rules, part of House Resolution 72 and scheduled for an in-person vote of the House on Wednesday in Springfield, also would set 10-year term limits for the House speaker and minority leader.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker allows state lawmakers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, joining Chicago city leaders and elected officials who were already allowed doses in current rollout planChicago Tribune

When Illinois opened up the coronavirus vaccine to people 65 and older last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot rolled up her sleeve for her first dose even as some state lawmakers wondered when their turn would come. Unlike the rest of the state, Chicago’s COVID-19 inoculation rules had allowed for city leaders and elected officials — regardless of their age or medical necessity — to receive the vaccine. Illinois’ statewide rules did not.

Democrats say they filled Senate seat with ‘amazing candidate’ — but losing contender complains of ‘backroom deal’Chicago Sun-Times

North Side Democrats promised no backroom dealing in appointing a successor to former state Sen. Heather Steans, vowing the process would be open and transparent. But state Rep. Kelly Cassidy said Monday that wasn’t the case — and her decision to not engage in those dealings may have been a key reason why she lost the chance to win the appointment herself.

‘Clean Energy Jobs Act’ Reintroduced As Advocates Say Goals More Urgent Than EverNPR Illinois

Democratic lawmakers are again re-introducing the so-called Clean Energy Jobs Act, renewing the effort for comprehensive legislation to address both climate change and expanding Illinois’ renewable energy industry. The bill was first introduced in 2019, but was put on the back burner as other legislative priorities crowded out CEJA during Gov. JB Pritzker’s first session as governor. Lawmakers pushed for the bill again last winter, but efforts were cut short after COVID-19 hit Illinois in March.