Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”
The recent big news centers around the announcement that the census bureau undercounted the Illinois population. This means more federal funding should be coming to the state. Also, a new report out, but not necessarily breaking news on the property tax front.
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Census Figure Mistake
In a stunning reversal, the U.S. Census Bureau says it mistakenly undercounted populations in eight states, including Illinois, which means the Land of Lincoln saw nearly 250,000 new residents over the past decade and is now above 13 million people for the first time in Illinois history.
All sorts of federal spending programs, including COVID relief, are based on population. Over a decade or so, using the new figures could gain the state an extra $1 billion or more in federal funding, insiders say. The problem is that the new bureau figures aren’t fully official, meaning the state still will be shorted unless something changes.
Governor Pritzker commented the new numbers “show that Illinois is now a state on the rise with a growing population,” he said in a statement. The population boost directly affects the state because more residents mean more federal funding. Along with Illinois receiving its fair share of resources, the positive population news may change the narrative that there’s an exodus from the state.
“Chalk one up for the good guys,” commented Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi. The new data shows “the reality,” said Krishnamoorthi, who sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over the census. “Anybody who perhaps is trying to sell the opposite will have to reckon with the facts now.”
It’s a point Pritzker is already using. “I look forward to celebrating this development with all Illinoisans, including those who routinely badmouth our state,” he said in a statement, referring to the Republican mantra that people are leaving the state in droves. Now Democrats have the numbers to say that’s fake news.
Members of Congress request federal funding for projects
Members of Congress representing Will County announced the list of projects they are requesting funding for through the annual appropriations process. The Community Projects Funding is an initiative that allows members to request direct funding for projects that benefit their districts, according to a news release.
Under congressional guidelines, each representative may request funding for projects for fiscal 2023, although only a handful may actually be funded. Projects are restricted to a limited number of federal funding streams, and only state and local governments and eligible nonprofit entities are permitted to receive funding.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, announced the following requests for projects in Will County:
- $1.2 million for Pace Bus’s new building for its park-n-ride location in Bolingbrook with public restrooms, vending machines and signage with real-time bus departure information. Pace has deployed indoor waiting areas at other park-n-rides along Interstate 55. The new facility would be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
- $1.1 million for the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s effort to establish safe pedestrian accommodations from the Route 53 corridor to the regional trail systems of Will County and beyond. An estimated 1.3-mile trail would connect multiple residential developments along Route 53 to a school, regional trail systems, the Midewin National Tallgrass Praire and local businesses. The project is in the feasibility phase.
- $884,000 for the United Way of Will County to launch a Resilient Youth program consisting of 22 training sessions for more than 500 teachers to help over 26,000 students throughout the county.
- $500,000 for the city of Joliet to support the creation of the regional water authority and cost to bring Lake Michigan water to Joliet and surrounding towns.
- $500,000 for the University of St. Francis in Joliet to provide accelerator funds and mentorship to businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved categories and offer community-based programming. The funding will help launch additional programs for businesses founded by people of color, women and veterans.
- $500,000 for VNA Healthcare to support the construction of a new health care center in Joliet. It will support 24 examination rooms, a wellness kitchen, waiting areas, a lab, nursing stations and a mental and behavioral health services department.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, announced the following requests for projects in Will County:
- $353,000 for Joliet Junior College to relocate its small-business support department and enable JJC to increase staffing and services to meet the demand of entrepreneurs in the area.
- $500,000 for the VNA Healthcare center in Joliet.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Chicago, announced the following requests for projects in Will County:
- $4.9 million for the village of Manhattan to enhance its water system’s operational resiliency and provide a safe and dependable supply of water to the village’s 9,500 residents. The village needs to improve its Well 7 to increase pumping capacity and provide treatment to remove radium from the water.
- $1.5 million for Will County to widen Laraway Road between Route 52 and to the east of Cedar Road intersections to address traffic concerns. Capacity improvements also are needed at the intersection of Route 52 and Laraway Road in New Lenox.
$20 Million Investment Announced to Boost Equitable Workforce Recovery
To bolster equitable workforce recovery for those struggling to gain meaningful employment, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have announced $20 million in workforce training investments through the Job Training and Economic Development Program (JTED).
As part of Illinois’ workforce recovery efforts funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the grants for 44 community-based organizations will serve more than 2,500 individuals, with a special training focus on industries hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Illinois Announces International Business Development Opportunities for Exporters
As Illinois celebrates World Trade Month, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have announced the 2022 trade show schedule and additional international business development opportunities to assist companies in starting or expanding global sales. DCEO’s Office of Trade and Investment (OTI) serves as an important representative abroad, arranges business opportunities in key foreign markets, and supports Illinois businesses looking to start or expand global sales.
Eligible Illinois exporters may apply for up to $25,000 annually through the ISTEP program to help fund international expansion initiatives including exhibiting in foreign trade shows and marketing their products to international buyers.
For more information about trade missions and other resources available through the State of Illinois’ Office of Trade and Investment, please visit exports.illinois.gov.
Illinois property tax bills have grown 268% since 1990
Illinois property taxes have far outpaced household incomes and home values since 1990, a Wirepoints analysis shows. Tax bills per household have grown 268% since 1990, while average home values have grown 114%.
According to the nonprofit Wirepoints, the average household now owes nearly $4,400 in residential taxes each year, up from $1,200 in 1990. In 2020, property taxes ate up 5.9% of median household incomes in Illinois. Thirty years ago, property tax bills consumed just 3.6% of incomes.
Wirepoints president Ted Dabrowski said Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised to address property taxes when he was elected, but it hasn’t happened. “We only see new bills and new laws come out of Springfield, and they always raise spending and they always raise property taxes and they always raise pension costs, so there is nothing good there for taxpayers,” Dabrowski said.
As for their impact on home prices, Dabrowski said property taxes have contributed to Illinois suffering the nation’s third worst growth in inflation-adjusted home values over the past two decades, up just 3%. “Our home values over the last 20 years have barely kept up with inflation, so there is really no gain for homeowners in Illinois,” Dabrowski said. “You compare that to Texas and Florida, their home prices after adjusting for inflation are up over 40%.”
Wirepoints also looked at tax data county by county. Lake County residents are burdened with the highest property tax rates in Illinois at 7.8% of income. DuPage County and Will County are second and third highest, respectively. The Lincoln Institute Land Policy found that Aurora, Illinois, assesses its residents with an effective property tax rate of 3.25% – the highest of the 53 big cities in its study.
“The state’s punishing tax numbers and Illinois’ outlier position nationally make an overwhelming case for reforming the cost drivers of Illinois’ property tax crisis, from pensions to public sector collective bargaining laws to education spending,” Dabrowski said.
Cost of Statehouse renovation higher than estimated but within state’s budget
The cost of renovating the north wing of the Illinois Statehouse will be more expensive than officials initially estimated. Only one bid came in for the project, which is about to get underway. CORE Construction Services of Illinois Inc. priced the job at $243.5 million, well over the $170 million that was originally estimated.
“Despite initial interest from multiple contractors on this project, only one firm submitted a bid while the others cited the difficulties of the current construction climate,” Statehouse Architect Andrea Aggertt said in an email. “Given the challenges this industry is facing across the nation, such as inflation, increased costs, demand issues, and labor shortages, the project has surpassed its original budget, which was established well before the economic pressures were recognized,” she added. “With that being said, the project is still within the amount that was appropriated by the state.”
State lawmakers set aside $350 million for Statehouse renovations as part of a $45 billion capital improvements package that passed in 2019.
We Need More Houses. Here’s How We Can Build Them.
Housing supply isn’t keeping up with demand, and it’s holding back our economy and worsening inflation, write Suzanne P. Clark, Chamber President and CEO, and Brian Deese director of the White House National Economic Council.
Why it matters: “Employers are forced to operate below their potential because they can’t attract or retain workers,” they explain in the Wall Street Journal. “One study estimated that this misallocation could cost up to 2% of gross domestic product, or more than $400 billion a year in lost economic output. Housing costs also play a major role in inflation, making up the largest component of the consumer price index.”
Clark and Deese lay out three ways government and the private sector can work together to increase the amount of housing in America:
- Remove unnecessary barriers. “For decades, exclusionary zoning laws—like minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements and prohibitions on multifamily housing—have inflated costs and locked families out of areas with more opportunities.”
- Fix worker shortages and supply chain issues. “Helping to alleviate supply-chain challenges and attract more workers into the building trades will help us turn the record number of housing units currently under construction into homes where Americans can live.”
- Make it easier to finance new affordable housing. Congress should enact and expand “federal tax credits—like the low-income housing tax credit and the neighborhood homes tax credit—which are projected to enable the construction or rehabilitation of nearly one million affordable homes.”
Bottom line: “By addressing these issues and the regulatory barriers that impede the construction of new affordable homes, we can help bring down costs for families and speed economic growth,” Clark and Deese write.
Infrastructure Bill Preparation Program
The Illinois PTAC and Illinois SBA District Office have joined forces to develop a groundbreaking program to prepare companies for Infrastructure Bill contracts. The Infrastructure Bill was signed into law by the Biden Administration and will provide unprecedented financing for our nation’s infrastructure. Illinois will receive a substantial portion of this bill’s contracting dollars.
- EDWOSB & WOSB Certification – (6/1/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- SDVOSB Certification – (6/8/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- Building Capability Statements for the Government Market – (6/15/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- Government Proposal Writing – (6/22/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
- Government Marketing Plan – (6/29/22 | 10:00 – 11:00 AM) – Registration
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry