A lot of information to share today and even more on deck for tomorrow. The Business Interruption Grants were supposed to open today for applications, but at the time of this writing the link was not live yet. Hopefully tomorrow that will change. There is information below for another grant available to those in the downtown Joliet SSA district. Tomorrow also should hopefully be day three of our Region 7 coming in below 6.5% positivity rate. That means our bars, restaurants, gaming, and banquets should go back to Phase 4 allowances. We await to hear when that will take effect.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Gov. J.B. Pritzker asks state agencies to prepare for ‘nightmare scenario’ of budget cuts
With Congress and the White House having yet to agree on a coronavirus relief package that would send additional money to ailing state and local governments, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that he’s asked the heads of state agencies to prepare for 5% cuts to budgets for this year and 10% cuts next year.
The $43 billion spending plan Pritzker signed for the budget year that began July 1 relied heavily on federal aid and borrowing to plug a massive hole caused by revenue lost to the COVID-19-induced economic slowdown.
Members of Pritzker’s Cabinet are reviewing the budgets of agencies under their control to identify potential cuts “and will need to implement those if there is no action taken by the Congress,” he said. “I can’t tell you exactly when each cut will take place,” Pritzker said.
A memo Tuesday to agency directors from Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes and budget director Alexis Sturm said this year’s budget “is only affordable in its current form with federal support to bridge the pandemic-related shortfalls and that now appears not to be forthcoming.”
The governor’s budget office estimates that the state will lose out on a combined $6.5 billion in revenue this year and next year. Agency heads were given until Oct. 2 to outline 5% reductions for the current year, including measures such as limiting or freezing hiring or new spending commitments. Directors also were asked to prepare two budget scenarios for next year: one that maintains level spending from the current year and one that anticipates a 10% reduction in appropriations from the state’s general fund.
This year’s budget allows for borrowing of up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve that would be repaid with anticipated but uncertain federal aid. Illinois became the first state to tap a new Fed program designed to aid state and local governments when it borrowed $1.2 billion in June to plug a hole in last year’s budget.
Illinois officials also have been hoping for a loosening of restrictions on how the state can spend $3.5 billion in federal aid the state has already received. Currently, those funds are designated for expenses directly related to the COVID-19 response.
Details from Problem Solvers Caucus Aid Proposal
The House Problem Solvers Caucus released today a framework for the next stimulus package. Called the March to Common Ground, the Covid relief framework calls for a $1.5 trillion stimulus package in an effort to break the logjam in Washington.
It includes proposals favored by both parties, as well as compromises on several key issues. The proposal is led by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Tom Reed (R-NY), and is supported by 50 lawmakers—25 Democrats and 25 Republicans.
Summary of the Stimulus Framework:
- $1,200 second stimulus checks + $500 per child and dependent adults
- $450 – $600 weekly unemployment benefit
- $500 billion to state and local governments
- $290 billion for Paycheck Protection Program and other small business programs
- $100 billion for virus testing and tracing and public health
- $25 billion for mortgage and rental assistance
- $145 billion for schools and childcare
- $25 billion for broadband, agriculture, Postal Service and Census
- $11 billion for WIC and SNAP assistance
- $400 million for 2020 elections
- Student loan forbearance through December 31, 2020
- Worker & Liability Protections
Party Leader Response
Democratic leaders are sticking to their guns. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that he backs Pelosi’s stance in talks. Other rank-and-file Democrats also continue to back the position of party leaders, pointing to the need for any bill to include funding for state and local governments.
Republican senators say that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has told his Democratic colleagues not to undercut their leadership by working on side deals with the GOP.
“There’s no way I can be for another bill that doesn’t backfill at least some of what states and cities like mine have lost in revenue since this COVID nightmare began.” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) stated.
That possibility is still unlikely to garner much GOP support. Tyler Goodspeed, acting chairman and vice chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told Bloomberg TV that the administration does not believe $1 trillion to support state and local budgets, passed by Democrats in May as part of a $3.4 trillion coronavirus bill, belongs “anywhere” in the ongoing conversations.
Despite the House remaining in session, lawmakers will be able to leave Washington and will be given a 24-hour heads up before any vote, which there is no guarantee of at this point.
Then … President Trump Throws GOP a Curveball
President Trump on Wednesday shook up the high-stakes debate over coronavirus relief, undercutting the Republicans’ long-held position by urging GOP leaders to go big.
Senate Republicans had initially offered a $1.1 trillion emergency aid package, but subsequently voted on a proposal providing just $650 billion — only $350 billion of it in new funding.
Democrats have howled at the GOP’s “emaciated” offer, arguing that it falls far short of the funding needed to address the dual health and economic crises caused by the deadly coronavirus.
On Wednesday morning, Trump stunned Washington by joining those Democratic critics in calling for Republicans to seek much more funding than they’ve previously proposed. He suggested it would not only provide relief to those struggling, but would also stimulate the domestic economy at large. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!),” Trump tweeted.
Judging by the immediate reaction of Senate Republicans, it appeared Trump did not tell his congressional allies that his change of position was forthcoming. Minutes after Trump’s tweet, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, a key negotiator, said he was more “optimistic” about a potential for a deal than he had been in quite some time.
Meadows, a former leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, characterized the $1.52 trillion relief plan proposed by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus a day earlier as a “thoughtful suggestion” and said it has moved the needle, even as allies of Speaker Nancy Pelosi had panned it as insufficient.
“It provides a foundation for us to come back to the table. … It’s not a show stopper,” said Meadows, who noted that he had been briefed on the Problem Solvers plan. Meadows added that a deal would need to happen within a “week to 10 days” for the parties to pass a relief package before Election Day.
Federal officials unveil plan to provide free coronavirus vaccine
The Trump administration on Wednesday outlined a strategy to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses to the American people as quickly as possible, for free.
In a report to Congress and a separate “playbook” for states, the Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laid out detailed vaccination distribution plans for states, tribal, territorial and local public health programs.
The playbook warned that states have never needed a pandemic response plan that is this complex. “Significant additional planning is needed to operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19, which is much larger in scope and complexity than seasonal influenza or other previous outbreak-related vaccination responses,” the agencies said.
Health officials noted that the plan is flexible, because some variables won’t be known until a vaccine is authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as populations for whom a given vaccine is most appropriate, distribution and storage requirements, dosage requirements and other variables.
In addition, the initial doses of the vaccine will be free of charge for patients. The administration’s Provider Relief Fund contains over a billion dollars of taxpayer money that will be used to reimburse providers for uninsured patients. Officials said they are working to iron out some “complications” with Medicare, but the worst-case scenario is Medicare beneficiaries will have to pay $3.50 out of pocket.
Census Still Being Hampered by Coronavirus
How the Trump administration handles the census could determine whether Illinois loses one — or two — congressional seats and who will redraw the state’s legislative maps once the 2020 Census figures are released. It all hinges on what data can be used and the deadline for submitting it to the government.
To get up to speed: The Census Bureau originally set an April 1 deadline to turn in census forms. Then of course, the coronavirus hit, and Sept. 30 became the new target. Now there’s a push to extend out to Oct. 31, and a court will decide that Thursday. An end-of-October deadline would likely delay when the federal government releases the data to state legislatures so they can redraw maps based on the outcome.
The Illinois Constitution, for example, states that the General Assembly must redraw its maps by the last day of the spring session — usually May 31. That scenario is an advantage for Democrats, who wield the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature. If the General Assembly fails to approve maps by the end of the session, an eight-person bipartisan committee is named to do the job. (Democrats cringe at the thought.)
There’s even buzz that a delay could push the start date of new districts to 2024 instead of 2022.
Illinois and the rest of the country will find out whether the Sept. 30 deadline stands or whether it will be shifted to allow more time for census forms to be turned in. More time would allow Illinois to get more forms turned
Employment System in Illinois Still Struggling
IDES’ new callback system ‘has turned out to be a failure’: “The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has been struggling to get back to people and certify Illinoisans with unemployment benefits for months now. IDES switched to the callback only model over two months ago. They thought it would help the disfunction of the previous system. But now, months later, residents and politicians are saying this system is failing miserably
In a statement, the Governor’s Office said:
“Since the beginning of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has processed weekly claims at a rate more than 10 times higher than the number of claims the agency processed weekly during the recession of 2008.
“In order to meet increased demand, IDES employees have been working overtime and the agency has hired more than 500 additional workers to answer phones, worked diligently to update the outdated computer systems to process more applications, and created a call back system to alleviate the need for repeated phone calls to the agency. Currently, the agency is returning about 12,000 calls per week and continues to return calls as quickly as possible.
“IDES has also implemented the new CARES Act programs to ensure that Illinois residents can receive the support and benefits they need. The CARES Act program would normally take a year to implement, but the administration and IDES have worked around the clock to implement these programs in just a few weeks.
“The Governor’s top priority remains undoing the harmful effects of IDES being underfunded and hollowed out under previous administrations and is committed to hiring more skilled workers at IDES to assist as many Illinois residents as possible. The administration looks forward to continuing the important work of ensuring state government provides the critical services Illinoisans rely on.”
City Center Special Service Area Emergency Retailer/Restaurant Grant Guidelines PHASE II
The Emergency Retailer/Restaurant Grant is intended to provide financial relief from the COVID-19 pandemic for City Center businesses. This grant provides funding directly to retailers or restaurants who are renting or leasing space within the Special Service Area. This grant is not intended for property owners. The use of funds is flexible in nature and is intended to assist businesses to pay employees or other operating expenses. The grant applicant shall identify specific uses for the money. Phase II grants are open to businesses that received a Phase I grant.
· Grants shall be a maximum amount of $5,000.
· Grants shall be awarded for up to 50% of total eligible expenses and shall not exceed $5,000.
· If business received a Phase I grant, the maximum grant amount will be $5,000 less the previous grant amount.
· Business owner/applicant is required to commit to operation for a period of not less than one (1) year from the date of grant disbursement. If the owner or business fails to meet this standard, a pro-rata reimbursement of grant funds to the CCP will be required. ELIGIBILITY & CRITERIA
· Applicant must operate a brick-and-mortar establishment within the City Center Special Service Area that was in operation on March 15, 2020.
· Applicant’s business must generate sales tax.
· Application must be complete.
· Applicant and business must be in good standing with City of Joliet zoning, ordinances, and all applicable regulations. ELIGIBLE EXPENSES
· Payroll for the time period of April 18th, 2020 to September 14th, 2020.
· Other operating expenses for the time period of April 18th, 2020 to September 14th, 2020. APPLICATION AND GRANT DISBURSEMENT PROCESS
· Applicants must submit the completed application form to the City Center Partnership via email to email@example.com.
· Grant applications are due SEPTEMBER 30, by 5PM.
· Applications will be evaluated by a review committee, and awards shall be based upon the above criteria.
· Grant recipients will be notified by October 2nd.
· Disbursement of grant funds is expected to occur within one – two weeks after recipient is notified of award.
**Application and form are attached to this email
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry