Representative Dan Swanson’s February 23 Capitol News Update


  • Governor delivers State of the State address
  • House Republicans react to latest corruption sentencing
  • Illinois and Cook County to spend another $250 million on Chicago’s migrant crisis
  • More news

Governor delivers State of the State address

Governor Pritzker delivered his State of the State address and unveiled his budget proposal on Wednesday. He proposes to spend $52.7 billion, which is the largest spending plan in Illinois history and a $2.29 billion increase, even though the state has a $775 million deficit.

I would have liked to have heard the Governor say more about fiscal responsibility and belt-tightening as a responsible way to address the deficit. Instead we heard more of the same: more taxes and more spending. The Governor continues to send millions of dollars to Chicago to help fight homelessness and provide free medical care to undocumented immigrants, but we have the same needs here in Western Illinois.

I was also hoping to hear more about fixing the mismanagement and dysfunction at state agencies, relieving local property tax burdens and taking on our pension debt. These have all been priorities of House Republicans for years, but we heard minimal details about these topics in the Governor’s speech.

The House and Senate will examine the Governor’s proposal and committees will hold hearings to develop the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1. Unfortunately in the past this process has not been transparent, as the final version of the budget has often been crafted behind closed doors and released mere hours before it is put up for a vote. We need a transparent, realistic budgeting process that avoids wasteful spending, spends taxpayer money wisely, and addresses our most important priorities.

House Republicans react to latest corruption sentencing

Last week former House Speaker Mike Madigan’s Chief of Staff was sentenced to 30 months in prison for obstruction of justice and for making false declarations to a grand jury investigating corruption in state government. Former Speaker Madigan’s trial is scheduled to begin in October.

The sentencing was just the latest in a long line of corruption verdicts handed down in Illinois, which further illustrates the need for tighter ethics laws. This is something for which House Republicans have been advocating for years. One of these ethics reforms is House Bill 4119, which would prohibit defendants from using their campaign contributions to pay legal costs. Former Speaker Madigan has used millions in campaign funds to pay his legal bills.

Just in the last year or so federal prosecutors have secured convictions against four former Commonwealth Edison employees for conspiring to bribe former Speaker Madigan to pass their legislative agenda; a Chicago businessman for bribing two state lawmakers and lying to the FBI; and just before Christmas a longtime Chicago alderman for racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion.

We have to toughen our anti-corruption laws during this legislative session.

Illinois and Cook County to spend another $250 million on Chicago’s migrant crisis

Governor Pritzker and the Cook County Board President have announced their plan to spend $250 million in state and local funds on additional aid to deal with Chicago’s migrant crisis. This follows Governor Pritzker’s November commitment to an additional $160 million in state funds, on top of the $478 million the state has already spent since the start of the crisis. As part of the new joint spending plan, the Governor’s fiscal year 2025 budget will include $182 million in spending for the migrant crisis.

Cook County has already budgeted more than $100 million for migrant-related costs, mostly health care, and the county board president announced another $70 million as part of the new joint funding venture. The plan will maintain shelter capacity and health care services. More than 35,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago and the suburbs in the last year and a half.

State, county and city leaders have projected that $321 million is needed to keep the migrant operation – which includes the city’s costly shelter system – up and running through the end of 2024. The city of Chicago was expected to provide another $70 million to cover the remaining gap, but the city’s mayor appeared to back away from that pledge during a press conference after a recent city council meeting.

In total, Governor Pritzker has committed $820 million in state taxpayer funds to the Chicago migrant crisis. But four weeks ago he could not find funds for the developmentally disabled.

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