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Dan Petrella
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs firefighter pension bill Mayor Lori Lightfoot says could lead to higher property taxes

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs firefighter pension bill Mayor Lori Lightfoot says could lead to higher property taxes

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Chicago Tribune. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed a bill supporters say puts Chicago firefighter pensions on par with suburban and downstate systems, but which detractors led by Mayor Lori Lightfoot argue will increase pension costs and could lead to property tax hikes. The measure, approved in the Illinois Senate during the legislature’s January lame-duck session, does away with what its sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Robert Martwick of Chicago, called “one...

April 5, 2021
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Illinois close to having 70% of residents 65 and older vaccinated, but rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases will prevent state from opening up further

Illinois close to having 70% of residents 65 and older vaccinated, but rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases will prevent state from opening up further

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Chicago Tribune. While almost 70% of Illinois residents 65 and over have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, an increase in COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations will keep the state from cracking the door any further under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s gradual reopening plan. And it could be a while before Pritzker’s “bridge” phase — an in-between period before full reopening — kicks in. State officials will be looking for a sustained...

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March 29, 2021
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Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch wants a graduated income tax do-over — this time tied to pension funding

Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch wants a graduated income tax do-over — this time tied to pension funding

New Democratic House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch suggested Wednesday that the state should again ask voters to approve a graduated-rate income tax, but this time target the new money toward paying down Illinois’ massive pension debt. The call for a do-over came after voters in November Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s graduated income tax proposal. Opponents, including Republicans and business leaders, used distrust of Springfield to argue for keeping the state constitution’s flat tax requirement. Advertisement “We have to tell the voters what we’re going to do with that money,” Welch said...

February 24, 2021
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Michael Madigan’s hand-picked successor in state House resigns just three days after being installed

Michael Madigan’s hand-picked successor in state House resigns just three days after being installed

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s hand-picked successor for the legislative seat he held for a half-century resigned Wednesday morning, just three days after being appointed and hours after Madigan and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn called on him to step down. Edward Guerra Kodatt, an assistant in Quinn’s ward office, on Sunday after Madigan from the House Thursday. The House clerk received Kodatt’s letter of resignation Wednesday morning, a spokesman for new House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said. Advertisement Kodatt’s resignation follows a statement released by Madigan and...

February 24, 2021
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs sweeping Illinois criminal justice overhaul, which will end cash bail in Illinois starting in 2023

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs sweeping Illinois criminal justice overhaul, which will end cash bail in Illinois starting in 2023

Illinois is set to become the first state to abolish cash bail under a sweeping criminal justice overhaul Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Monday. The massive bill, praised by reform advocates and panned by many in law enforcement, will beginning in 2023, require police officers statewide to , eliminate when filing complaints against officers, and create a more robust statewide system for tracking police misconduct and decertifying officers who commit wrongdoing, among a host of other changes. Advertisement “This legislation marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism...

February 22, 2021
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Michael Madigan resigns from Illinois House after being ousted as speaker

Michael Madigan resigns from Illinois House after being ousted as speaker

State Rep. Michael Madigan on Thursday announced his resignation from the Illinois House after representing a Southwest Side district for a half-century, the majority of that time as the powerful speaker. Madigan remains chairman of the state Democratic Party. Advertisement Madigan, whose resignation is effective at the end of February, was dethroned in January as speaker as a sprawling federal corruption probe grew closer, with Commonwealth Edison admitting in federal court last year that it engaged in a yearslong bribery scheme aimed at currying his favor. Madigan has not been charged and...

February 18, 2021
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Pritzker said the failure of his graduated-rate income tax would leave Illinois with two options. He’s eliminated both of them.

Pritzker said the failure of his graduated-rate income tax would leave Illinois with two options. He’s eliminated both of them.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker long warned that without his graduated-rate income tax, which voters rejected in November, Illinois would be left with only two options to address its chronic budget problems: raising income taxes or double digit across-the-board spending cuts. But ahead of his budget address to lawmakers Wednesday, Pritzker outlined a state spending plan that would neither raise the income tax or alter the total budget outlay. Advertisement He did call for closing $900 million in unspecified “corporate tax loopholes,” which opponents are already labeling a tax hike on businesses in the...

February 14, 2021
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Illinois House sets rules for the post-Madigan era, but Republicans say changes are merely tweaks

Illinois House sets rules for the post-Madigan era, but Republicans say changes are merely tweaks

The Illinois House voted along party lines Wednesday to adopt new rules for the post-Michael Madigan era that include 10-year term limits for the speaker’s post and the minority party leader. But after decades of former Speaker Madigan’s iron grip on the legislative process, the changes don’t go as far as some lawmakers and advocates may have hoped in opening up the legislative process so that more bills are given consideration. Advertisement While Democrats hailed the new rules, the first under new Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside, as the dawning of a new era, Republicans said...

February 10, 2021
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker won’t seek to raise income taxes or overall spending in budget he’ll propose to lawmakers next week

Gov. J.B. Pritzker won’t seek to raise income taxes or overall spending in budget he’ll propose to lawmakers next week

Coming off the defeat of his signature graduated-rate income tax proposal in November, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is preparing to present a budget plan to lawmakers next week that doesn’t increase overall state spending or raise the flat-rate income tax from the current 4.95%. In a budget overview short of details, Pritzker’s office said he will propose closing $900 million in unspecified “corporate tax loopholes” and ask legislators to redirect some dedicated revenue streams, such as the cigarette tax, to the state’s general fund. Advertisement The governor’s office is projecting a $3...

February 9, 2021
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Lightfoot’s plan for a partially elected school board introduced in state Senate as House passes bill calling for all seats to be chosen by voters

Lightfoot’s plan for a partially elected school board introduced in state Senate as House passes bill calling for all seats to be chosen by voters

A proposal from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to add a handful of elected seats to the Chicago Board of Education was introduced in the Illinois Senate on Thursday, just as the state House approved a measure to create a fully elected board. Lightfoot supported an elected board for Chicago Public Schools during her successful 2019 mayoral campaign, but has shifted her stance since taking office. She’s called the 21-member board in the House proposal “unwieldy,” and her office and CPS officials argue that the structure could jeopardize the improved graduation rates and other gains made since mayoral...

April 16, 2021
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