Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The Illinois House of Representatives adjourned late Thursday afternoon after passing 40 bills onto the Senate for consideration, leaving over 500 bills to consider by the March 24th deadline. Here is an update on a few key issues from this week:
In this edition:
- Economy – Stellantis & IL manufacturing
- Public Safety – No Cash Bail
- Budget – Moody’s upgrade
- Jobs – Illinois metro area unemployment
- Outdoor Illinois – Trout season opens
House Republicans Call for Business Reforms to Attract Manufacturing and Keep Jobs in Illinois. My House Republican colleagues held a Capitol news conference this week to call for reforms to Illinois’ business climate following the shuttering of the Stellantis Jeep Assembly Plant in Belvidere and Stellantis’ previously announced $150 million investment in Indiana.
My Republican colleagues and I are calling for reforms to Illinois’ tax code and business regulatory environment, while pointing out that major manufacturers are passing over Illinois to invest in states with friendlier business environments.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski spoke on the need to keep manufacturing and other industries in Illinois, pointing out how the policies of the Pritzker Administration and the legislative supermajority in Springfield have given false hope to job creators and local families while failing to stem the exodus of Illinois jobs to neighboring states.
Illinois Supreme Court hears arguments on cash bail. Illinois courts have long had the power to require that a defendant post cash bail as a surety for their good behavior as they get ready for their trial date. The Illinois Constitution protects defendants by ordering that the cash bail be set at an appropriate level, and a wide variety of case law gives Illinois defendants a recourse when they face a request for bail as a condition of pretrial release.
Although cash bail has been, and continues to be, a significant part of Illinois’ criminal procedure, a case before the Illinois Supreme Court could soon end it. A major component of the Democrats’ so-called “SAFE-T Act” would eliminate cash bail as of this year. Law enforcement officials, including the overwhelming majority of Illinois state’s attorneys, filed suit to block the implementation of “no cash bail.” Oral arguments on the case of Rowe and Downey v. Kwame Raoul et al. were heard by the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 14. State’s Attorney James E. Rowe and Sheriff Michael Downey, the lead plaintiffs, represented a bipartisan group of elected law enforcement officers from across Illinois. These public officials within law enforcement are fighting to retain cash bail as a tool of criminal procedure by the Illinois courts. The state high court’s decision will shape the future of pretrial detention in Illinois.
Key global credit rating firm grants Illinois a debt upgrade; still near the bottom of U.S. state governments. Moody’s Investors Service, one of the largest credit rating agencies, moved Illinois general obligation debt to a ‘single A3’ rating. This standing, while far below that posted by affiliate agencies of neighboring states such as triple-Aaa Indiana, could grant Illinois taxpayers some much-needed relief in terms of the interest payable on State debts. Illinois is continually borrowing more money, and its credit ratings from Moody’s and other credit rating firms help determine the comparative level of interest rates that Illinois bonds must pay when they hit the global debt marketplace. These interest payments, which are made on bonds sold by Illinois and its affiliate agencies, are payments that must ultimately be paid by Illinois taxpayers.
In a time of sharply rising interest rates, Illinois must set aside more and more money every year to service its new and existing debt load. Moody’s decision could make this burden less crushing than it otherwise would have been for Fiscal Year 2024, which begins on July 1, 2023. Illinois House appropriations committees heard presentations this week on many facets of the FY24 budget picture.
Illinois metro areas show continued strong job outlook in January 2023. The statewide unemployment rate was 4.7% for the first month of 2023, and this week the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) worked with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop estimates of these rates within the major metro areas of Illinois.
In the highly-populated Chicago region, unemployment was 4.7% during this monthly period, compared to 3.9% in our metro east region.
Downstate metro areas posted numbers that were higher or lower than the statewide average. In many cases, the divergence from the mean was associated with a metro area’s orientation towards manufacturing industry, on the one hand, or services such as healthcare and higher education on the other. In higher ed/hospital-oriented Champaign-Urbana, for example, the January 2023 unemployment rate was 3.8%, signaling near-full employment. In nearby, historically industry-oriented Danville, the same rate was 5.7%. Other Illinois metro areas with high unemployment were Rockford, with 5.8%, and Kankakee, with 6.1%. Rockford-area jobless rates may bump up soon in association with the recent shuttering of Stellantis’ Belvidere motor vehicle assembly complex.
Illinois trout seasons to open on Saturday, March 18, and on Saturday, April 1. The speckled fish is stocked in 58 ponds, lakes, and streams throughout Illinois, using funds from a variety of sources. Funding sources include money from Inland Trout Stamp fishing licenses issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which announced that the catch-and-release trout season will open on Saturday, March 18.
Starting on Saturday, April 1, holders of Trout Stamps will be able to keep and clean up to five fish per day. The Trout Stamp requirement is waived for children under age 16, persons with blindness or other disabilities, and for Illinois residents on leave from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. The 58 stocked Illinois trout waterways are listed in the announcement of the opening of the season.
HOUSE BACK IN SESSION
The Illinois House of Representatives is back in session on Tuesday, March 21. You may listen or watch live at Noon here.
NEED ASSISTANCE WITH STATE GOVERNMENT?
If you have an issue or need help navigating state government. My office is here to help you. If my office may be of assistance please contact my district office in Alton at 618-433-8046.
-Rep. Amy Elik