Two-day session ends with major legislation, but no energy bill

Two-day session ends with major legislation, but no energy bill

By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers finished a two-day special session Thursday by passing some important legislation but without reaching agreement on the one issue they had hoped to resolve – an energy bill that would phase out all carbon emissions from power plants over the next 30 years.

“I think a very successful legislative session got a lot more successful today,” House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, said Wednesday during a news conference shortly after the House adjourned. “We got some important things done. And we got it done because we have some great people in the House of Representatives, on both sides of the aisle.”

Topping their list of accomplishments was the final, slightly amended passage of a $42.3 billion budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, something they thought they had completed when they first adjourned June 1, but which Gov. JB Pritzker was forced to send back for a minor change to correct drafting errors regarding the effective date of various provisions.

“It’s a balanced budget that achieves a level of fiscal prudence not seen in our state for two decades,” Pritzker said Thursday during a news conference in Chicago. “For the first time since 2001, Illinois is paying its bills on time. We are also paying off pandemic borrowing early. We’re meeting our full pension obligation and we’re saving taxpayers tens of millions of taxpayer dollars along the way.”

The budget provides essentially flat funding for most state government operations, with the exception of K-12 education, which will see the $350 million increase called for in the evidence-based funding formula, and some human services such as Medicaid.

The bill also calls for using about $1 billion in federal funds from the recently-passed American Rescue Plan Act to get an early start on infrastructure projects that are part of the Rebuild Illinois capital improvements program of 2019, something Pritzker said would create new jobs throughout the state and help accelerate the state’s economic recovery.

Republicans, however, harshly criticized that spending, arguing that the projects were hand-picked solely by Democratic lawmakers.

They also criticized the budget for not addressing the large deficit in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund, which some have estimated may be as large as $5 billion.

Democrats, however, countered that the trust fund deficit can be addressed at a later time, possibly with additional federal relief.

“Hopefully, there’ll be some additional relief because other states are facing this as well,” Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, said during a separate news conference Wednesday.

In addition to fixing the budget bill, lawmakers also passed legislation this week to ensure that people who, through no fault of their own, received more unemployment benefits than they were entitled to will not be required to pay back those overpayments.

They also passed legislation aimed at clearing up a backlog of applications for Firearm Owner’s Identification cards as well as legislation providing for a first-ever elected Chicago school board, an issue that had divided legislative Democrats and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

But the one issue that continued to elude lawmakers was the issue that ostensibly brought them back to Springfield for the two-day session to begin with, passage of an energy overhaul bill.

One of the key sticking points that remains to be resolved is how the new legislation would treat coal and natural gas-fired power plants. Pritzker has said his goal is to phase out coal plants entirely by 2035, although he recently said he is willing to extend that if existing coal plants can somehow capture and sequester their carbon emissions. He also wants to phase out natural gas-fired plants by 2045 by gradually lowering caps on allowable emissions.

As negotiations over those issues continue, however, energy giant Exelon, which operates six nuclear power plants in Illinois, has threatened to shut down at least two of them because they are currently unprofitable.

Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, who has been part of a legislative negotiating team on the energy bill, said Wednesday that she is not overly concerned about Exelon’s threat.

“We’ll see. They also told (former) Speaker (Michael) Madigan when he was here that they needed to have this all resolved by April,” she said. “So I’m not feeling a lot of pressure from them.”

Hoffman, meanwhile, said negotiations around the energy bill are continuing, and he predicted lawmakers would return to Springfield soon, once an agreement is reached.

“Would I liked to have been done in April and May? Of course,” he said. “We didn’t get there. And so we’re going to keep working. Over the last two weeks. I can’t tell you the hours that we put in, and we made progress on other issues. We just haven’t got that one done yet. That’s the way it goes.”

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

Sandburg’s boys bowling team is headed to state for the first time since 2017 after winning its own sectional on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Carl Sandburg

Postseason Sports Report: Area stars ready for state bowling and dancing

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The first two IHSA state tournaments for winter sports will take place this weekend, and an army of area athletes will be competing in both. The boys bowling and competitive dance championships will be held Friday and Saturday, with the bowlers heading to St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon…

Stagg coach Marty Strus gets ready to talk to his players during Friday night’s game against Andrew. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Strus tops former coach in Stagg’s win over Sandburg

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff writer Marty Strus has nothing but good things to say about his former high school coach, John Daniels. “He’s meant a ton to me,” Strus said of the coach he faced off against last week when his Stagg Chargers took on Sandburg. “He meant a lot to me as…

palos tax appeal flyer for 1-26-22

Palos Township tax appeal workshop on January 26

Spread the love

Spread the love

For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

Palos Area Chamber dedicated to promoting area 

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White  Dedicated to helping local area businesses strive is the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber was formed in 1949 when a small group of merchants joined together for the purpose of advancing economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the Palos Heights area. For 68 years, the Palos…

Peggy Zabicki

We need real solutions to crime

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 Crime and safety concerns are the number one topic of all the calls and texts I receive. It seems that many politicians offer no solutions except the usual lists of ways to keep safe. I think everyone knows about locking…

Mary Stanek

Icy spill yielded plenty of good will

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place •  (773) 284-7394 Here is a giant shout out to our first responders in the community. On Jan. 9, when a sheet of ice descended on Chicago, I was walking the dog. Walking around Peck School was great.…

Joan Hadac

It’s a busy January in Gage Park

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joan Hadac Neighborhood correspondent at large Greetings, Gage Parkers! I’m pleased to be filling in this week for Karen Sala. It’s fun for me to report on Gage Park, the neighborhood where I lived for the first 26 years of my life. There’s always something happening in this big, exciting part of…

Kathy Headley

You can bank on good service here

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 In this world of corporate takeovers, it is kind of hard to feel safe in the hands of big business. First, we have to supply some of our personal information to the automated system. Then there’s…

Palos Park police will hold an active shooter training session on January 30. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park police to hold active shooter drill

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports Palos Park Police will fine tune their strategies for dealing with an active shooter to ensure the safety of both officers and citizens later this month. The end goal of the January 30 drlll is to test the department’s active shooter response plans and fine tune them. “Palos Park effective…

Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson and several staff members at the high school, 10601 Central Ave., Oak Lawn, walked for 24 hours on a treadmill to raise money for student scholarships starting bright and early on New Year's Day. (Supplied photos)

Richards’ Principal walks 24 hours for a cause

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White  Most people spend New Year’s Day relaxing. Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson spent it on the treadmill. For the second year in a row, Jacobson inspired generous donations of more than $20,000 on New Year’s Day by walking 24 hours on a treadmill without stopping. All of the money raised goes directly…

Neighbors

Alumni Association members Heather Leininger, Emily Szymczak, Candice Mares and Miriam Cruz (at table) lead a crowd of LeaderShop alumni and community members waving posters saying Morals Matter, Demand Change, and Integrity for the Kids. (Photos by S. Kirchman)

LeaderShop alumni, board meeting turns testy at times

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy S. Kirchman The LeaderShop Alumni Association rallied under the pavilion at The LeaderShop office in La Grange for the board’s scheduled 6 p.m. meeting after it was switched from in-person to virtual earlier on Thursday. The Alumni Association consists of volunteers, previous staff members, former members of the board of directors, funders,…

Cleveland Cavaliers guard-forward Max Strus hits a 3-pointer last season over the Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown. Photo courtesy of Max Strus

Hometown Hoops Hero: Stagg alum Max Strus discusses his rise through the NBA, hitting big shots and his annual youth hoops camp

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent A lot of changes have taken place for Max Strus during the past year. While the Cleveland Cavaliers guard has played in an NBA Finals and been featured as No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top Plays,” among other noteworthy events, the Stagg alum is the same homegrown kid who…

Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson (left) earned two big awards for her recent goal-scoring spree. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Red Stars’ Swanson picks up Best XI of Month honors

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson picked up some big honors recently, including being named to the NWSL’s Best XI of the Month for June. This is the seventh time in Swanson’s career and the fourth time as a Red Star she has won a best of the month…

St. Laurence finished second in the state in Class 4A and is looking to win it all in 2024. Photo by Jeff Vorva

A bevy of changes ahead for the 2024 high school football season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The IHSA’s annual posting of the coming season’s football schedule always gets people talking. This year is no exception. Tears for Fears meets David Bowie as there are changes, changes and more changes; fans might need pencils and scorecards to keep track. As a public service, we here at…

Kathy Headley

The cleanest sidewalk in Chicago Lawn

Spread the love

Spread the love. Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 . In a recent column I told you about stopping at the Community Dinner held on Tuesday evenings in the fieldhouse at Marquette Park. That particular night I sat next to an arborist for the Cook…

Peggy Zabicki

Hot dog! This is a special week

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . I would like to start my column with the most important news. National Hot Dog Day is Wednesday, July 17 and is traditionally celebrated all week. I decided to suggest two West Lawn restaurants for celebrating…

GSWNH_HolidayInnRear_070524

Migrants coming to Ford City

Spread the love

Spread the love. Nearly a thousand coming this month to Holiday Inn . By Tim Hadac The Pritzker Administration is converting a vacant hotel in the Midway area to a shelter expected to house as many as 950 migrants. The action is occurring quickly, with migrants expected to move in this month. In a press…

CTAlogo

CTA hiring means more rail service

Spread the love

Spread the love. Orange Line sees 11% jump . From staff reports The Chicago Transit Authority has announced that because of what they described as continued, aggressive recruiting, hiring and training efforts, it has added 8.5% more scheduled rail service in recent weeks for a total of 9% more scheduled service added since April 2024.…

the leadershop logo

LeaderShop Alumni Association to host peaceful rally during Thursday board meeting

Spread the love

Spread the loveThe LeaderShop Alumni Association, a group of volunteers, previous staff members, former board members, funders, donors, and stakeholders who are community minded and energized by the mission of The LeaderShop, will host a peaceful rally in support of change to current leadership for the nonprofit agency. The rally will be held during The…

The Mariano’s store in Frankfort would be among the stores transferred to a new owner if the Kroger-Albertson’s merger is approved. (Photo by Bob Bong)

Comings & Goings: Palos Jewel, Oak Lawn Mariano’s to be sold in merger deal

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Kroger and Albertson’s this week released the list of stores the companies plan to sell, should a merger between the grocery giants be approved by regulators. Jewel Food Stores in Alsip and Palos Heights are among the stores listed for sale as well as Mariano’s locations in Oak Lawn, Orland Park, and…