Week in Review: Budget, public safety, winter storm & more


Illinois begins discussion of budget for Fiscal Year 2023. Discussions began after Governor JB Pritzker delivered his FY23 Budget and State of the State Address Wednesday at the Old State Capitol. The Governor’s budget plan covers the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023, a 12-month period that will begin on July 1, 2022 and will end on June 30, 2023. The budget anticipates that Illinois will have $45.4 billion in general funds to spend in FY23. This follows the $43 billion budget approved by the Democrats in 2021 for FY22.
In submitting his FY23 budget, Gov. Pritzker tried to make making the case that the FY23 budget spends $1.6 billion less than the FY22 budget. However, House Republican budget analysts found that the proposed FY23 operational budget spends $2.5 billion more than equivalent spending levels in FY22. At the same time, FY23 state revenues are actually on track to decline by $460 million compared to FY22. The FY23 Pritzker budget would lock unsustainable spending patterns into place. The FY23 budget proposal could set the stage for future tax increases on Illinois working families.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement after Governor Pritzker’s budget address.

“The governor’s budget address is always a wish-list, and this year it’s clear that the governor wishes to be reelected. The budget laid out by Governor Pritzker today is packed with gimmicks and one-time tricks, but no structural reforms. The people of Illinois deserve a governor who will be honest and work to actually fix things like property taxes and out-of-control crime.”

Deputy House Minority Leader Rep. Tom Demmer put Governor JB Pritzker’s Budget Address in perspective. Rep. Demmer emphasized the need for common sense bipartisan solutions to put Illinois on a more stable long-term financial footing.

Following Governor Pritzker’s combined Budget/State of the State Address, State Representative Dan Brady said the Governor seems to be ignoring many of our state’s most critical issues.

“Today the Governor painted a very rosy picture of our state’s finances under his leadership. What he failed to say is that recent improvements are NOT because of responsible fiscal policies, but are solely the result of a large federal bailout. We need a long term plan, not another bandaid.” Brady said.

“The Governor also failed today to give us a realistic plan to tackle the startling recent rise in violent crime, the jobs lost and economic devastation of two-plus years of COVID, and when he will begin to lift mandates and restrictions on schools and businesses. Illinois families deserve so much better.”

New State Police map plots Chicago-area expressway shootings. The map, based upon police blotter reports, covers shooting incidents (including fatal and not-fatal shootings) since 2019. The State Police map covers limited-access highway incidents throughout all of greater Chicago as far west as Illinois Route 47, thus covering in the suburbs west of Aurora and Elgin, and as far south as U.S. Route 30. Each plotted incident includes a link to basic information on the incident, such as the time of day and whether it caused injury or death. The link does not give out the names of persons involved in the incidents. Shooting incidents that occur away from limited-access highways are not part of the State Police’s jurisdiction, and the map does not cover them.

The new State Police map is meant to increase the timeliness and transparency of how the State Police reports this news to the Chicago-area public. There have been 13 Chicago-area expressway shootings so far this year.

Move Over Law violations during Illinois snow week; three separate State Police squad cars hit by moving vehicles. Illinois law requires motorists to avoid driving in lanes next to first-responder vehicles that are on one side of the road and signaling their identity. This is to protect the first responders who protect all of us. However, during the first hours of the February 2022 winter storm, at least three first-responder vehicles from just one law enforcement force – the Illinois State Police – were hit by other motor vehicles. The violations occurred despite widespread warnings, distributed on radio, television and by electronic signs posted above major Illinois highways, that a major storm was expected to cause unsafe driving conditions and everybody should get off the roads unless they had an urgent need to travel. The three incidents occurred in Central and Southern Illinois, in a belt of Downstate hit hard by ice and then by heavy snow.

Survey shows U.S. police officers leaving forces in near-record numbers. The findings, summarized in the Wall Street Journal, show that many law enforcement officers are weary of constant attacks and hostility from segments of the public and the press. Many of them are submitting their resignations, or putting in for retirement. Although the problem is acute in Illinois, the WSJ survey also saw it in other urban states such as California, New York, and Wisconsin. The high work ethic of certified police officers makes them attractive hires in a tight private-sector labor market. While the remaining police officers on U.S. forces are trying to cover the gaps left by headcount departures, this increases pressure on remaining officers and encourages them, too, to think about their futures.

A recent survey of nearly 200 police departments nationwide by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C. think tank, demonstrates the severity of the current situation. During the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020 through March 2021, the police forces covered by the survey notched officer resignation numbers that were up 18% from the final 12 months prior to the pandemic. During the same period, the rate of police retirements rose 45% within the surveyed group and time period. The 12 months covered by this survey coincided with the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, Minn., with widespread urban disorders and riots, and with nationwide calls to “defund the police.”

Case counts, hospitalizations. Even with the posting of new COVID-19 numbers slowing down due to the February 2-3 Illinois snowstorm, the Illinois case count moved closer to the 3.0 million level. As of Wednesday, February 2, more than 2.939 million positive cases of coronavirus had been recorded in Illinois. This does not include positive case results notched by at-home COVID-19 tests, many of which are never reported to public health officials.

As of Wednesday, February 2, 31,123 Illinois deaths had been attributed to COVID-19, with thousands of additional deaths taking place among people who tested positive and for whom there were two or more causes of death. Vaccines continue to be effective at reducing or preventing the chance of a person being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19, and more than 20.5 million shots of vaccine have been administered throughout Illinois.

Gov. Pritzker declares winter storm disaster. The declaration came as a cold front approached Illinois, leading to severe storm warnings from the National Weather Service. In response to predictions that the winter storm could release more than one and a half feet of snow in many parts of Illinois, Gov. Pritzker issued a disaster declarationcovering the entire state. The Illinois National Guard deployed approximately 130 members, many of whom were made available to escort emergency truck shipments and to assist the Illinois State Police as they help stranded motorists.

For events such as the 2022 Illinois snowstorm, major emergency responses are coordinated by the State Emergency Operations Center, an office of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) in Springfield.

By Thursday, February 3, more than 11 inches of snow had fallen across Central Illinois, with sharply higher snow levels in some areas.

Scheduled session days cancelled this week. Members of the Illinois General Assembly continued to work from home this week. Scheduled in-person session activities had included a joint session to hear Gov. Pritzker’s February 2 budget address. With this week’s winter storm and disaster declaration, both the Illinois House and Senate cancelled the scheduled session.

Gov. Pritzker presented his budget for the 2023 fiscal year in Springfield, even though few lawmakers joined him to listen to the presentation. The Budget and State of the State Address was moved from the Illinois House chamber, within the Illinois State Capitol, to a smaller room in the Old State Capitol.