Agency Transitions: Theresa Eagleson, Director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services will step down at the end of 2023. The Governor appointed Lizzy Whitehorn, who currently serves as First Assistant Deputy Governor for Health and Human Services, to serve as Director of HFS beginning January 1, 2024.
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith is resigning as Director effective December 31. Also stepping down at the end of the year is Paula Basta, Director of the Illinois Department on Aging. Both were appointed to their positions in 2019. The Governor’s office is conducting a national search for replacements.
Camile Lindsay was appointed Acting Director of Professional Regulation at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Lindsay is currently serving as First Assistant Deputy Governor for Public Safety, Infrastructure, Environment and Energy.
Federal Government Shutdown: With the possibility of a federal government shutdown, Governor Pritzker said last Friday that his administration is prepared to do “whatever is possible to maintain critical state services.” The administration plans to use state funds to temporarily fill spending gaps and then apply for federal reimbursement once a budget deal is approved.
Executive Order: The Governor issued Executive Order 23-08 which renews the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee and its subcommittee, as well as the Illinois Opioid Remediation Advisory Board until the Illinois Opioid Remediation State Trust Fund is extinguished.
Soil Health: The Illinois Department of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a state-wide program to standardize soil health practices and set clear levels of achievement for farmers engaging in best practices. The program enables IDOA to implement legislation passed this year to increase use of cover crops, strip till, no till, and erosion and sediment control practices.
Asylum Seekers: Buses of asylum seekers continue to inundate the City of Chicago. Fourteen buses arrived during the day on Wednesday and eight more were expected by day’s end. Mayor Brandon Johnson and a team will be traveling to the southern border to assess the situation and explain the reality of the harshness of Chicago’s winters.
Meanwhile, Governor Pritzker is asking President Biden and the federal government to offer more assistance to state and local government as they wrestle with establishing an infrastructure to deal with the overwhelming volume of asylum seekers. In his letter to the President, Pritzker said “the federal government’s lack of intervention and coordination at the border has created an untenable situation for Illinois.” In addition to suggesting the President appoint a singular person to spearhead the federal effort, the Governor is also asking the federal government to waive fees for TPS applications; increase logistical coordination and data collection; provide more financial support to states, local governments, and NGOs for temporary housing, food and social services; accelerate the timeline for employment authorization; and approve Illinois’ requests for Medicaid waivers, housing vouchers, and federal coordination and support. Read the full letter here.
Hospital Report Card: The Illinois Department of Public Health launched a redesigned and enhanced Illinois Hospital Report Card website, with patient safety and quality of care information presented in a more user-friendly format. The website, https://www.healthcarereportcard.illinois.gov, also includes an updated Illinois Public Health Community Map, with county-level information on health outcomes and access to care across Illinois. The new website features mobile optimization, expanded search capabilities, expanded data access and enhanced facility profiles.
EPA Water Quality Management Grants: The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced $750,000 in funding through the release of a Section 604(b) Water Quality Management Program Grant Notice of Funding Opportunity. This grant program is used to implement the Illinois Water Quality Management Program and Illinois’ Nonpoint Source Management Program through water quality projects and activities. The NOFO is here.
Grant funds can be used to determine the nature, extent and causes of point and nonpoint source water pollution, develop watershed-based plans, and develop technical and administrative tools to support development and implementation of water pollution control projects and programs. In addition, projects can develop designs for best management practices to address water quality problems, implement administrative water pollution controls, and educate the public about the impact and importance of water pollution control.
Grid Resilience Grant: The US Department of Energy awarded Illinois a $16,063,450 grant from their Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grant Program to help the state’s small municipal and co-op utilities improve power grid reliability and help mitigate the impacts of extreme weather on Illinois families. Illinois is among the 11 states, two territories, and 20 Tribal nations that were selected for the program’s eighth round of funding. Read more here.
CZ Biohub Chicago: Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Chicago (CZ Biohub Chicago)—a new biomedical research hub at the cutting edge of leading scientific study – launched in Chicago. CZ Biohub Chicago brings together the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Northwestern University—to study human tissue with the goal of enabling new, groundbreaking therapeutics. CZ Biohub Chicago was selected in early 2023 to join the CZ Biohub Network, which includes a $250 million investment from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Read more here.
103rd ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois General Assembly returns for the Fall Veto Session October 24 – 26 and November 7 -9.
The House Ethics and Elections will hold a hearing on October 18 at 2pm in the Bilandic Building and in Virtual Room 1 to discuss election security.
The House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, & IT Committee will hold a joint hearing with the House Judiciary – Civil Committee on November 2 at 10 am in the Bilandic Building in Chicago (and Virtual Room 1) to discuss emerging issues in artificial intelligence.
Election Update: Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso will seek the Republican nomination in the 82nd House District formerly held by retired House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. The seat is currently represented by appointed Representative John Egofske who is not seeking reelection. Grasso will face fellow Republican Nicole La Ha Zwiercan in the Primary.
Republican Ray Estrada is no longer running in the 17th Congressional race. Retired Circuit Court Judge Joe McGraw will now run as the sole Republican to challenge to freshman Democrat Congressman Eric Sorensen.
Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez will challenge Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the Democratic Primary in the 4th Congressional District.
Mark Kirkton, a Livingston County farmer and businessman, is seeking the Republican nomination in the open 53rd Senate District currently held by retiring Senator Tom Bennett. Also seeking the Republican nomination for the job is Washington Mayor Gary Manier.
UAW Strike: The United Auto Workers expanded its strike to Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant, instructing thousands of workers on the city’s Southeast Side to walk off the job last Friday in the union’s ongoing labor dispute with the Big Three automakers. The Chicago Ford plant has about 4,600 workers on three shifts making the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Police Interceptor SUVs. Subsequently, Ford laid off 330 workers on Monday at its Chicago Heights Stamping Plant and the Lima Engine Plant in Ohio – the plants supply parts to the now idle Chicago Assembly Plant. A Ford spokesman called the layoffs “a consequence of the strike at Chicago Assembly Plant.”
Raoul Sues Alternative Retail Electric Supplier: Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a lawsuit against Residents Energy LLC, an alternative retail electric supplier, alleging the company’s telemarketers and in-person sales agents used deceptive and unfair tactics to switch customers from their public utility company to more expensive contracts with Residents.
Raoul’s lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that Residents’ sales representatives used a variety of deceptive tactics to lure customers into switching to Residents. During sales solicitations, agents allegedly made false promises of low rates and savings, when in fact Raoul alleges Residents’ customers almost always paid higher rates than they would have if they had remained with their original public utility company.
Raoul’s lawsuit claims Residents’ agents quoted low rates, but concealed the fact that the quoted rate was merely a first-month, introductory rate. The lawsuit also alleges that Residents’ agents falsely told consumers that Residents’ rate was historically lower than other public utilities rates. Additionally, the suit alleges that some Illinois consumers paid Residents’ inflated rates without even enrolling with Residents.
Raoul’s lawsuit seeks an injunction against Residents to prevent future violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Illinois Telephone Solicitations Act. The lawsuit also seeks monetary relief to reimburse Illinois consumers, as well as civil penalties, including penalties for violations against older consumers and persons with disabilities.
September Revenue Report: The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued its September Revenue Report. From the report:
Revenues deposited into the State’s General Funds were notably higher, growing $441 million in
September, an increase of 8.8% over last September. This increase was despite the fact that
September had one less receipting day than a year ago. A comparatively strong month for State taxes
and transfers boosted this month’s totals. However, this growth was aided by the timing of some
receipts that necessitate some context.
One of the primary drivers of the September increase was growth in the Personal Income Tax. Gross
receipts were up $244 million for the month. When subtracting out distributions to the Refund Fund
and the Local Government Distributive Fund, the net increase was $203 million. These gains helped
offset a $106 million decline in Corporate Income Tax Receipts [-$79 million decline on a net basis].
A contributing factor to the notable increase/decrease in these income tax receipts is the reallocation
of certain business-related tax revenues.
In April 2023, the Department of Revenue announced that a notable reallocation in fund distributions
would take place in FY 2024 as part of their annual statutory reconciliation of business-related tax
payments. As part of this “true-up” adjustment, a total of $1.077 billion in business tax receipts will
be reallocated through Personal Income Tax disbursements throughout FY 2024, with a corresponding
negative adjustment to both Corporate Income Tax receipts [-$259 million] and Personal Property
Replacement Tax receipts [-$818 million]. These adjustments are expected to be completed in five
equal installments, the first of which took place in September. Each installment will result in a
positive monthly adjustment of approximately $215 million to the Personal Income Tax and a negative
adjustment of -$52 million from the Corporate Income Tax and -$164 million from the Personal
Property Replacement Tax (non-General Funds distribution). The remaining four installments are
expected to take place in December, March, April, and June during large business income tax revenue
Note: This reallocation of funds, which will effectively increase General Funds revenues by
approximately $700 million (net of non-general funds distributions) by the end of the fiscal year, was
anticipated and included in the enacted budget’s revenue assumptions for FY 2024. See the
Commission’s April 2023 Monthly Briefing (page 9) for further explanation of this adjustment.
Even without these reallocations, the State’s revenue sources performed quite well in September.
Sales tax receipts were up $44 million for the month [or +$32 million on a net basis when subtracting
out distributions to the Road Fund and the Downstate Public Transportation Fund]. All Other State
Sources increased a combined $73 million. The largest increase in this category, again, comes from
Interest on State Funds & Investments, with growth of $62 million in September. The Inheritance
Tax also had a strong month, rising $26 million. Insurance Taxes [up +$8 million] and the Corporate
Franchise Tax [up +$1] million contributed to the increase. The growth in these areas helped offset
relatively minor declines from Public Utility Taxes [-$13 million], Other Sources [-$6 million], and
the Cigarette Tax [-$5 million].
The Transfers In category provided impressive gains for the State’s General Funds with overall
transfers rising $327 million in September. Much of this increase is due to the annual statutory
transfer of excess funds remaining in the Income Tax Refund Fund from the previous fiscal year into
the General Revenue Fund. The FY 2024 transfer amount of $555 million is $259 million above
what was transferred in September of last year. However, it should be stressed that this will be the
only deposit for this particular line this fiscal year, whereas a total of $1.481 billion was eventually
transferred from this fund in FY 2023. Therefore, the September increase of $259 million will
eventually turn into a cumulative year-over-year deficit of $926 million by the end of the fiscal year.
[Note: this level of decline was anticipated in the enacted budget’s revenue assumptions]. Lottery
Transfers [+$30 million] and Other Transfers [+$49 million] contributed to the overall monthly
increase for this category of revenues, easily offsetting the $11 million drop in the casino-related
Gaming Transfer. Cannabis Transfers were essentially flat for the month.
Base revenues received from Federal Sources were $115 million lower than last September. There
were no “one-time” revenues received from Federal reimbursements or other “one-time” General
Funds sources in September of this year or last. Therefore, the overall growth of $441 million
matches the State’s “base” growth for this particular month.” Read the full report here.