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Insight on Illinois

December 3, 2020

As America digests the results of the Presidential election and the transition to a Biden Administration begins, all political eyes in Illinois are focused on whether Speaker Madigan will be re-elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives in Springfield. What started as a trickle has turned into a flood of Democratic members willing to buck his leadership. As of this writing, there are 19 Democrats who have announced publicly that they will not support the Speaker for another term, which would leave the Speaker short of the 60 votes necessary to be re-elected to the post he has held for decades. Whether the Speaker is able to win back enough House Democrats to be re-elected or the House welcomes a new Speaker, the implications for legislation in the Spring of 2021 are enormous.

Here is what else we are watching now.

Michael Madigan’s Speakership in Peril

  • So far, 19 Democrats have announced they won’t vote to re-elect Michael Madigan, who has served as House Speaker for 36 years
  • Right now, Madigan doesn’t have the 60 minimum votes necessary to be re-elected, but has only one declared opponent, state Representative Stephanie Kifowit, who doesn’t currently have enough declared supporters to win the Speakership
  • Longtime Madigan ally and lobbyist Mike McClain was charged earlier this month in connection with the ComEd bribery scandal. This is the closest confidant of the Speaker who has thus far faced any formal charges in connection with the investigation

Chicago Passes 2021 Budget

  • City Alderman voted 29-21 on Nov. 24 to approve the city’s budget for the next year
  • A proposed $94 million property tax increase, increased ticketing, and a fuel tax increase were passed as part of the revenue plan
  • Layoffs were avoided with a plan for 5 furlough days for non-union city workers

Cook County Passes FY 2021 Budget

  • Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle managed to pass a $6.9 billion budget on a vote of 17-0
  • The budget included no new taxes
  • The County relied heavily on eliminating vacant jobs and the County’s reserves to avoid deeper cuts or tax increases

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News of the Week

Support for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan further erodes as first member of his leadership team says he’s lost her voteChicago Tribune

A member of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Democratic leadership team announced in a letter Monday that she will not support him for another term in charge of the chamber. State Rep. Kathleen Willis of Addison, the majority conference chairperson, joins 18 rank-and-file Democrats in publicly opposing another term for the nation’s longest-serving state House speaker. Madigan, who’s been tied to a federal bribery investigation, is now facing opposition from more than one-quarter of his members.

Madigan was supposed to be different, and was for many years. Until now.Chicago Sun-Times

On Page 9 of last week’s federal indictment of four people accused of conspiring to bribe House Speaker Michael Madigan with favors from ComEd is this heading: “Defendants and Relevant Individuals.” But the first person listed is not one of the defendants. “Public Official A was the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” the list begins. The feds don’t just throw these things together like some college freshman who’s late with a term paper. Indictments, particularly in political cases, are often carefully crafted in order to send a message. So, it obviously ain’t good when you’re at the very top of the government’s defendant list and you’re not even a defendant.

Key Madigan Ally, ComEd Lobbyists And Official Indicted In Federal Bribery SchemeNPR Illinois

A longtime confidante of House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) was charged along with two other former Commonwealth Edison lobbyists and the CEO of ComEd’s parent company in a nine-count indictment Wednesday, alleging the four conspired on a wide-ranging bribery scheme all designed to influence the powerful House Speaker.

Committee releases ComEd documents related to Madigan, schedules Dec. 14 hearingThe Center Square

Documents spanning over nearly a decade related to the ComEd bribery scheme implicating Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan have been released, and members of a committee investigating the speaker have different takes. Since entering a deferred prosecution agreement with Commonwealth Edison, federal prosecutors have charged five people in a scheme they say lasted from 2010 through 2019 where the Exelon subsidiary paid $1.3 million in bribes to Madigan associates in an effort to influence the speaker.

Chairman Of Illinois Panel Investigating Madigan Has COVID-19WBEZ

An influential Illinois lawmaker who chairs the committee charged with investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan has tested positive for COVID-19. Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said he started feeling symptoms Wednesday and that they remain mild.

Watchdog group says 2011 smart grid legislation cited in federal bribery case put ComEd interests over public goodChicago Tribune

Legislation at the heart of the bribery scandal that has ensnared House Speaker Michael Madigan as well as former Commonwealth Edison executives enhanced the utility’s bottom line but failed to produce promised benefits for consumers, according to a report released Tuesday by Illinois PIRG, a public interest advocacy group.

Chicago City Council approves Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2021 budget, $94 million property tax hikeChicago Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot scored a relatively narrow but important victory Tuesday as the City Council adopted her $12.8 billion budget for 2021 that relies on a property tax hike and controversial debt refinancing to help close a massive deficit. Aldermen voted 28-22 in support of Lightfoot’s $94 million property tax increase. The mayor’s full budget also passed 29-21.

Why I am asking you to support one of the most painful budgets in Chicago’s historyChicago Sun-Times

I want to speak directly to Chicagoans about our city’s budget, which will come up for a vote before the full City Council today. Long before I formally introduced this budget in October, it became clear that our economic path out of the COVID-19 pandemic would require us to make some extraordinarily difficult decisions. It was a matter of when, not if, these decisions would be made, and how we would make them — all while holding firm to our core values of equity, inclusion and transparency.

With final tweaks, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s $6.9 billion budget wins approvalChicago Tribune

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s $6.9 billion budget for 2021 won the approval of commissioners Tuesday on a 17-0 vote after a series of final adjustments, including reallocating money to keep open a health clinic at Morton East High School in Cicero. Winning approval of her spending plan was a decidedly easier lift than it was for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who proposed a significant property tax increase and costly borrowing plan. The county’s budget included no new tax increases and instead largely relied on eliminating more than 500 currently vacant jobs and drawing down reserves to get through the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois to borrow $2 billion more from feds as coronavirus dents tax revenueState Journal-Register

Illinois will borrow about $3.2 billion from the federal government to pay the state’s bills, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday. Lawmakers authorized borrowing $5 billion earlier this year as the state struggled with financial problems exacerbated by economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci warns Pritzker of ‘post-Thanksgiving surge’ — says it’s ‘no time to pull back’ from COVID-19 restrictionsChicago Sun-Times

Just hours after he spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease experts, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday none of the state’s 11 regions will get any break from Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations “for the next few weeks.” The governor opened his daily COVID-19 briefing with the sobering news, citing advice from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Fauci — director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — and other infectious disease experts.

Illinois will not ease mitigations for a while Pritzker saysState Journal-Register

COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased in any part of the state for the next several weeks even if a region shows improvement in controlling the virus, Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday. With ongoing fears that Thanksgiving holiday gatherings could lead to another spike in coronavirus cases, Pritzker said Illinois cannot afford to let its guard down now.

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