When will Springfield adopt a budget? What (and what won’t be) in it? Will President Joe Biden, Washington Republicans and the Federal Reserve avoid a disastrous default?
This week, the answers to these questions will become clearer as state and federal capitals compete over their budget plans.
After talks over a $50 billion budget plan failed, the ruling Democrats in Springfield sent everyone home. They were not expected back until mid-week.
Although tensions have begun to rise between the Latino caucus and the Black caucus, an agreement can be reached before May 31. A supermajority is required to pass the budget after that.
The question is whether the rising costs of health care for undocumented immigrants, as now estimated by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $1.1 billion per year would eat into funding for public school and other programs.
How much money will Mayor Brandon Johnson have left? The new mayor wants more state assistance in dealing with and for summer job programs.
Despite all this, there are still other issues that the General Assembly has not resolved. These will most likely be brought to light in the next few days.
The Civic Federation has expressed reservations about the costs. However, lawmakers approved the bill despite their concerns. Two other bills addressing the same issue in relation to the retirement system for firefighters are still awaiting final approval by the Senate.
The bills were passed by a wide margin in the House despite Jennie Huang Bennett’s opposition. She said that it would cost taxpayers up to $55 million per year and increase unfunded pension liabilities by $3 billion. The fix is necessary to correct a legal flaw that will need funding sooner or later, say advocates.
The Chicago Board of Education elected by the city’s residents and the appointment of Samir Mayekar, a top aide of former Mayor Lori Lightfoot to the McPier Board are also awaiting final approval. The former seems to be on a solid path.
In Washington, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden are expected to discuss the debt ceiling crisis. The brinksmanship game is getting dangerously close to the June 1 deadline that U.S. Treasury officials had set.
Republicans demand that the federal government’s spending be brought back to levels prior to the pandemic as part of an agreement on debt. Democrats are opposed to this and want to raise taxes on wealthy people and large corporations instead.
But it’s still not time to go under the bed. Have the pillow with you when you travel.
Other Washington news: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) is, in a recent letter, urging postal officials to take stronger measures to deter attacks on mail carriers, who are increasingly becoming targets of crime.
Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) has asked for a federal investigation into eight horse deaths that occurred at Churchill Downs in the lead up to this year’s Kentucky Derby. Quigley sent his letter just before another horse died in Maryland.
Look for more from Mayor Johnson in the future on public safety, and other issues. One important question is: who will be his deputy for relations with large companies and corporate recruiting to get more businesses to move to Chicago.