The Spin: Springfield in OT | Pritzker back before the cameras | US Rep. Danny Davis will have at least one Democratic opponent if he runs again

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·11 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

For the first time since May 19, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was back in front of reporters, this time in what seemed to be a victory lap over the Democratic-controlled General Assembly’s approval of a $42 billion budget deal.

The Democratic governor says the plan will rev up an economy slowed by the coronavirus pandemic. Sounding more and more like he’s running for a second term, the first-term governor even took jabs at Republicans, including predecessor Bruce Rauner, whose administration — and relationship with the legislature — was defined by a budget impasse.

The legislature passed the budget early this morning, blowing its self-imposed deadline of midnight Monday to wrap up the spring session. The General Assembly also moved next year’s primary from March to June and passed an ethics reform bill.

And Senate lawmakers (and the journalists covering them) are still working away. There’s some movement this afternoon on the possible fate of an elected Chicago school board.

With the exit of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan earlier this year over a federal probe that has penetrated his inner circle, there were times when it was unclear who was taking the reins after he kept such a tight grip on lawmakers for so many years, WBEZ’s Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney write.

Indeed, “(s)trains between the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, under two new leaders, were evident when the House (under Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch) indicated its work for the spring session was largely finished and members headed home. The Senate, under President Don Harmon of Oak Park, planned to return to work later Tuesday and assess an unfinished legislative landscape,” the Tribune’s Rick Pearson, Dan Petrella and Bill Ruthhart write.

It became more evident when Harmon used a procedural move to prevent the budget from being sent to the governor. He later backed off. Welch chalked up the disagreements between House and Senate Democrats to “diversity” in the two caucuses.

Saying it’s time for the next generation to pick up the torch, anti-violence activist Kina Collins, 30, announced today her plans to enter the Democratic primary in hopes of ousting U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, 79.

She made the announcement late this morning with representatives from a variety of progressive groups, including Justice Democrats, the same organization that backed the winning bids of New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Illinois’ Marie Newman in their bid to unseat more centrist Democrats in their respective districts.

Davis tells The Spin he’s seriously considering whether he’ll run again.

Welcome to The Spin.

The politics of this legislative session: Madigan may be gone, but Democrats are still in charge

From the Tribune’s Rick Pearson, Dan Petrella and Bill Ruthhart: Illinois Democrats turned “the spring session into a partisan tour de force, wielding their power to push legislation aimed at maintaining their control of Springfield, rewarding their allies and advancing social policies.”

“With supermajorities in the House and Senate under two new Democratic leaders, the moves bring home to Illinois the hyperpartisan divides of Washington as both parties move further toward catering to their extremes.

“For Republicans who looked at the January departure of Michael Madigan — the embattled state Democratic Party chair and the nation’s longest-serving House speaker — as an opportunity for a fresh start, the session has been a rude awakening.

“‘We have been completely locked out of every important issue of the day that we have in this state,’ said House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. ‘They have turned what was a pretty partisan operation that we’ve seen here under Mike Madigan to a new level.’

“Despite Madigan’s absence, Republicans continually raised his specter to criticize Democrats. On Friday, Durkin said the federal Commonwealth Edison bribery investigation that ensnarled the former speaker is a result of Madigan’s ‘absolute power and control over the Illinois legislature.’”

Lawyers for 4 charged in ComEd bribery case say no quid pro quo with Madigan, ask for charges to be dismissed – The Tribune’s Jason Meisner and Ray Long have more details here.

State budget highlights

Also from Pearson, Petrella and Ruthhart: The Illinois General Assembly’s top legislative priority this time of year is always passing a state spending plan ahead of the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“Democrats introduced the roughly $42 billion budget as part of a spending package that would use $2.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds for infrastructure projects and other programs.

“The plan also counts on generating more than $600 million in revenue by closing what Pritzker and fellow Democrats have called corporate tax loopholes,” but which Republicans have labeled tax hikes. The dollar amount is “less than what Pritzker had originally proposed after Democrats dropped several items from his plan that had drawn the ire of Republicans, including limiting a tax credit for people who donate to private school scholarship funds.”


* “The state also would pay $2 billion in outstanding debt on an emergency Federal Reserve loan taken out in December with its own funds rather than the coronavirus relief money, as previously planned. The U.S. Treasury Department’s draft rules would prohibit states from using the money to pay down debt.”

* “ ... The state would make its full contribution of nearly $9.4 billion to its severely underfunded pension plans.”

Read the full breakdown here.

General Assembly passes measures making it easier to vote

Yes, Illinois lawmakers sent the governor legislation to move next year’s March 15 primary to June 28. But it was part of a less discussed, comprehensive election measure that includes efforts to make it easier for people to permanently receive a mail-in ballot, Pearson, Petrella and Ruthhart write.

“The Democratic-backed legislation also would make curbside voting permanent, and set up voting centers on Election Day where anyone within the election’s jurisdiction could vote, regardless of the precinct of their residence.”

“The measure also would make the general election date of Nov. 8, 2022, a state and school holiday, as it was last year, making it easier to use school buildings as polling places without having to deal with student security.”

It comes as Texas lawmakers have been waging a partisan battle over voting restrictions that would eliminate drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling centers, both of which were introduced in Harris County last year — home to Houston, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold. The latest from The Associated Press here.

ALSO: NCAA athletes in Illinois could sign endorsement deals under bill passed by state lawmakers: The student-athletes “would be able to hire agents and sign endorsement deals starting this summer under a measure state lawmakers passed” early today, the Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart writes. The NCAA has signaled some support, Ruthhart notes, adding: “A number of state legislatures have passed or are considering bills to allow college athletes to sign endorsement deals, while the NCAA has urged Congress to pass a law that would apply uniformly across the nation.” Full story here.

Legislators pass bill to extend cocktails-to-go until 2024 and also allow bars and restaurants to offer free drink to people who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccination. More here.

Lawmakers ban some background checks on people who sign up to speak at public hearings: It comes on the heels of the Tribune disclosing how the Chicago Police Department ran secret background checks for more than a decade on several hundred citizens who signed up to speak at public meetings before the Chicago Police Board. More here.

Sign up for The Spin to get the top stories in politics delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons.

What about that map?

On Friday, lawmakers sent Gov. Pritzker legislation to redraw Illinois’ legislative districts to the party’s favor for the next decade and redo state Supreme Court boundaries for the first time in nearly 60 years to try to keep their majority.

Asked about how he’s leaning on the redrawn legislative map delivered to him by the Democrats, the governor said today, “I honestly have not reviewed the map” but that he would “look at them and, you know, I’ll make a decision.”

Still left unresolved were plans for future energy policy for the state, efforts to strengthen gun laws, an elected school board for Chicago and law enforcement-backed changes to a sweeping police reform law approved just months ago.

Pearson, Petrella and Ruthhart break it down:

*Late last night, a possible deal on clean energy legislation appeared to hinge on the most contentious and politically challenging issue: whether the governor’s office could reach an agreement with Commonwealth Edison parent Exelon on subsidies for the company’s nuclear power plants. The company has said it will shut down its Byron and Dresden nuclear plants if it doesn’t get help from the state.

*There seems to be some movement in the Senate on an elected school board in Chicago. Senate President Harmon has focused on trying to find a compromise that would start with a hybrid board of both appointed and elected members before moving to an all-elected panel.

Though she campaigned in support of an elected board, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has backed a hybrid approach that leaves her in control.

*Senators approved a measure aimed at updating a backlogged firearm owner’s identification card and concealed carry license system, including the use of voluntary fingerprinting as an enticement to have their licenses extended. But the House finished its work without considering the measure.

Kina Collins announces second bid to challenge U.S. Rep. Danny Davis

For a second time in as many election cycles, Kina Collins said she’s launching a bid to challenge U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a fellow Democrat.

During a news conference today on the West Side, Collins said she wants to boost the fortunes of communities that have been “left behind” during Davis’ tenure as congressman.

Remap reminder: Illinois’ congressional boundaries for the next election cycle remain unsettled, presenting an added obstacle for challengers in that they don’t know which 17 districts will remain and what their boundaries will look like. Illinois lawmakers this weekend moved next year’s primary to June 28 to allow for use of federal census data that has been delayed in drafting the state’s congressional districts.

As it is now, the 7th Congressional District stretches from the Near North Side, downtown and all of the West Side, a portion of the Southwest Side along with inner-ring suburbs.

“Illinois’ 7th Congressional District is one of the most diverse districts in the country yet one of the most unequal,” Collins said during a news conference at Emmet Elementary School “And while certain portions of this district have flourished, what we can’t deny (is) the last 24 years of Congressman Davis being in office other communities have been left behind. And I live in (one of the) communities that have been left behind here in the South Austin neighborhood.”

She reiterated studies showing that while residents of the well-to-do downtown neighborhood of Streeterville have a life expectancy of 90, residents of Englewood — also part of the 7th Congressional District — have a life expectancy of 60.

Davis, who says Collins lives down the block from her in South Austin, pushed back against her assertion that he isn’t fighting for a justice and equality in the neighborhoods he represents. And furthermore, he says, he has never seen her at community meetings unless they were campaign events.

While the Washington Post described him as a low-profile politician, Davis said he keeps a robust public schedule and that he’s committed to his constituents.

He said that although he’s been in office nearly three decades, he doesn’t see retirement as an option, adding that even if he leaves Congress, “I’m interested in public policy, in decision making ... to help make the world a better place in which to live. And I intend to do that for as long as I’m alive.”

Election data: In the 2020 four-way primary, Davis won with 60.19% of the vote while Collins finished a distant second with 13.88% of the vote, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

A closer look at how Davis fared in recent primaries: The Washington Post notes in a piece out today that Davis’ share of the vote in Democratic primaries has been declining in recent elections: In 2016 he won with 81.19% of the vote; in 2018 he won with 74% of the vote; and last year with just over 60% of the vote. In the last two primaries, the Post notes, he’s faced one or more progressive Democratic challengers.

Second time’s a charm? In an interview with CNN, Collins mentioned the second-chance successes of U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, of La Grange, who defeated conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski. She also mentioned Missouri U.S. Rep. Cori Bush’s defeat of Rep. William Lacy Clay last year after failing on her first try in 2018. More here.

Your tax dollars: The O’Hare ‘people mover’ still isn’t moving people

As travelers return to O’Hare International Airport, one key piece of the experience is still missing: The once-popular “people mover” train used to ferry travelers between terminals and to and from parking lots remains out of service, the Tribune’s Sarah Freishtat writes.

She reminds: “In a 2019 investigation, the Tribune detailed how service interruptions were initially supposed to be kept ‘to an absolute minimum’ during construction, which was to be substantially completed by December 2018. But the investigation found the project soon devolved into delays, finger-pointing and contract disputes between the city and Parsons Construction Group, the main contractor on the project.”

The pandemic has only added to the delays.

Christine Carrino, a spokeswoman for the Aviation Department, said: “The Airport Transit System (ATS) at O’Hare will return to service as soon as the system is operating safely and reliably.”

“Parsons did not answer questions from the Tribune about the reasons for the delay or when the project would be complete.” The contractor initially inked a deal for $310 million but it’s been raised to $350 million. More here.

Thanks for reading The Spin, the Tribune’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons. Have a tip? Email host Lisa Donovan at .

Twitter @byldonovan