Pritzker To Place Grocery Sales Tax On A Diet

by Horace Douglas, The Chicago Times

April 8, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker announced plans to suspend grocery taxes and freeze the state’s fuel tax.

According to Pritzker’s office, $1.8 billion have been earmarked in the new budget for taxpayer relief.

“Over the last few weeks, and especially over the last 48 hours, we’ve engaged in a true give and take, which led to genuine compromise, and it honestly helped that we all came into this process committed to a fiscally-responsible spending plan that improved our state’s finances and helped our people in an hour of genuine need.” Pritzker said in a statement.

Pritzker’s budget proposes a suspension of Illinois’ 1% sales tax on groceries for the new fiscal year which will end July 1, 2023.  In addition, Pritzker proposed a freezing the state fuel tax at $.39 a gallon until January 1, 2023.  According to official Illinois bean counters, the election year tax gimmick will save taxpayers $470 million dollars.

Alvarez Resigns From Illinois Tollway

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

March 15, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Another political appointee of Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker has resigned from the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.

According to Pritzker’s office, Jose Alvarez submitted a letter of resignation that stated his departure would be effective immediately.  Alvarez was hand picked by Pritzker to head the allegedly corrupt and wasteful Illinois Tollway system.  Alvarez’s resignation follows the departure of Illinois Tollway System board president Will Evans.  Evans had struggled for power with Alvarez and attempted to take charge of day-to-day operations, but later resigned.

A Pritzker spokesman declined to comment if both Evans and Alvarez were asked to leave by Governor Pritzker.  Alvarez and Evans are connected with former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker.  Hooker became involved with the ComEd bribery scandal that now threatens to send former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan to federal prison.

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority was founded in 1941 and opened the first Illinois toll road in 1958.  The ISTHA oversees the construction, operation and maintenance of Illinois toll roads.  As of 2017, the ISTHA maintains and operates some 294 miles of tollways in northern Illinois.  The current budget for the ISTHA is a stunning $1.49 billion dollars.

Illinois Judge Dismisses Pritzker’s School Mask Mandate

By Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

February 18, 2022

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor J. B. Pritzker’s appeal of a Sangamon County’s ruling over school mask mandates has been dismissed by an appellate court early on Friday.

In earlier February, a Sangamon County judge ruled that Pritzker’s mask mandate was invalid.  Pritzker appealed that ruling to Illinois’ Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals despite the expiration of the mask mandate order on Sunday.

In a stunning vote, the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted 9-0 to not renew the mask mandate on Tuesday.  Sources within the Governor’s Office said Pritzker was furious by the vote and was heard shouting at staffers that he is in charge and shouldn’t have to deal with other branches of government.

Before the release of the decision of Friday, a three-judge panel ruled late Thursday that Pritzker’s appeal was “moot”, citing the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules objections and suspension of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s emergency rules.

“Because the emergency rules voided by the TRO are no longer in effect, a controversy regarding the application of those rules no longer exists. Thus, the matter is moot.” the panel wrote.

In the decision, the appellate court added that school districts are free to impose mask mandates or take other steps to address COVID-19.

CHICAGO: PROTESTS SCHEDULED IN RITTENHOUSE VERDICT OF NOT GUILTY

by The Chicago Times Staff

November 19, 2021

CHICAGO – Chicago braces for protests that have been scheduled in Chicago Friday night in response to the Kyle Rittenhouse judgment.  Rittenhouse was acquitted of all counts Friday after arguing self-defense in the tragic Kenosha shootings. 

One organized protest will be held at the Federal Center and Plaza 6pm to 10pm.  While another will be held at Millennium Park at 7pm.

President Biden remarked “I stand by what the jury has concluded . . . The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.”  The President also urged calm.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker stated on Thursday that Illinois State Police are prepared for any potential disturbance in the aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS BAN “DARK MONEY” IN JUDICIAL RACES

by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

November 16, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — A new Illinois law requires all candidates to disclose the sources of their contributions, with the goal of prohibiting out-of-state contributions and so-called “dark money” in judicial campaigns.

Gov. J. B. Pritzker singed into law Monday Senate Bill 536 which prohibits judicial campaign committees from accepting contributions from out-of-state sources or from any person or entity that does not disclose the identity of those making the contribution, with the exception of contributions that are less than the itemizing threshold.

The bill also raises the contribution threshold for itemizing contributions from $500 to $1,000.  It also prohibits people from making or accepting anonymous contributions, as well as contributions made in the name of someone else.

On the final day of the fall veto session, Democrats pushed the bill through the General Assembly.  It arose in part in response to the 2020 elections, in which Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, a Democrat, was defeated for re-election, the first time in state history that a state Supreme Court justice was defeated for re-election.

According to campaign finance reports, a group called Citizens for Judicial Fairness legally spent more than $5.9 million on a campaign to defeat Killbride.  However, the campaign also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from so-called dark money organizations, such as the Judicial Fairness Project, which does not reveal its donors.

Kilbride’s campaign spent nearly $4 million on his behalf, with the majority of the funds coming from labor unions, trial lawyers, and the Democratic Party of Illinois.

“Trying to avoid dark money in elections is something that I think we can all get behind.  As a result, the change would prevent out-of-state and untraceable money from entering our judicial races, thereby preserving the integrity of those judicial elections.” Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said during a House floor debate.

GOP members, on the other hand, claimed it was a partisan move designed to help Democrats maintain their current 4-3 majority on the court.

“I can’t help but notice that the impetus for great changes in how we conduct elections for the judiciary in the state of Illinois, both the remapping of the Supreme Court (and) the change in campaign finance activities comes after, for the first time in the history of our state, a Democratic Supreme Court justice lost his retention in the 2020 election . . . this is another effort for the majority to change the rules of the game because they don’t like the outcome,” said Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria.

The bill was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly, 72-42 in the House and 41-17 in the Senate.

Gov. Pritzker Awards First $24 Million in “Back to Business” Grants

by Frank Conklin, The Chicago Times

September 30, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Governor J. B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced today that the first grants under the Back to Business (B2B) recovery program have been awarded. 

521 grants totaling more than $24 million have been awarded to small businesses in 146 cities across Illinois to assist them in dealing with the acute operational impacts of COVID-19.  The first wave of funding provided through this program supports a diverse range of businesses representing industries and geographies hardest hit by the pandemic, with more than half of the grants going to minority-owned businesses in Illinois. 

Overall, the B2B initiative will provide $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to small businesses that have suffered COVID-19 losses, and grants will be distributed on a rolling basis.  Eligible firms are invited to apply by visiting the DCEO website before the October 13 deadline.

“I am excited to announce the first $24 million in Back to Business grants – just the beginning of our efforts to distribute over $250 million to small business owners across the state,” said Governor J. B. Pritzker. “This first wave of B2B funds will help over 500 of our state’s entrepreneurs rehire staff and cover operating costs – without owing a single cent back. And as Illinois rebuilds and recovers, we will continue to step up for our small businesses. They deserve to breathe easier and dream bigger – it’s our mission to deliver the funds and resources they need to do so.”

The B2B initiative will award grants ranging in size from $5,000 to $150,000 to assist in the restoration of operational losses caused during the pandemic.  The first wave of funds announced today has reached businesses that are most in need of support due to the pandemic.

Businesses with revenues of $5 million or less, as well as those who did not obtain an award under the BIG program, are given priority throughout the evaluation period, with $25 million made available for businesses that applied but did not receive money under that program.

Furthermore, firms located within DIAs are being prioritized, with over $100 million set aside for certain zip codes.