Government Affairs Roundup
“Your Timely Roundup of Local, State, and Federal Updates”

Chamber members:

The Illinois General Assembly finally wrapped up its work over the weekend with a budget in place along with a number of other bills awaiting the signature of the Governor. Records show 566 bills cleared the General Assembly in the recently concluded spring session, all but one of them doing so in the month of May. Of those, 249 passed in the final two weeks, including 55 in the final week of session. Legislative leaders have 30 days from a bill’s passage to send it to the governor, and the governor then has 60 days to either sign or veto it.

In addition, the Illinois General Assembly has posted its schedule for the veto session already. The House and Senate will return to Springfield October 24 – 26 and November 7 – 9. Governor Pritzker used his veto pen sparingly in his first term, the most notable exception being an amendatory veto of the state budget in 2021 to correct drafting errors.

In four years, Governor Pritzker issued 17 vetoes, including five that became law after lawmakers either overrode him or accepted the changes he had suggested as part of an “amendatory” veto process laid out in the state constitution. Others he vetoed only because they were duplicative of other measures that had already passed under a different bill number.

*Government Affairs Roundup brought to you by CITGO & Silver Cross Hospital*

Governor Pritzker’s Statement on the Passage of Illinois’ Fifth Balanced Budget
Following the House passage of the FY24 budget agreement, Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement: “My thanks to Speaker Welch, Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, and all the members of the House who voted today to advance our fifth balanced budget. This budget reaffirms our shared commitment to fiscal responsibility while making transformative investments in the children and families of Illinois that will be felt for years to come. I look forward to signing this budget making childcare and education more accessible, healthcare more affordable, and our state’s business and economic position even stronger.”

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Recap

The FY 24 budget is a balanced plan with conservative revenue estimates that builds on our fiscal progress while making transformative investments in early childhood and higher education, workforce development, and efforts to fight violence and poverty.

Fiscal Responsibility – 5th balanced budget

  • This budget builds on four years of historic fiscal progress with balanced budgets, eight credit rating upgrades, a Rainy-Day Fund set to surpass $2 billion, the elimination of the bill backlog, and $1 trillion in GDP
  • $200 million additional pension payment beyond what’s required, bringing total pension stabilization investments to $700 million
  • $450 million to pay off rail-splitter bond debt – saving the state $60 million in interest and virtually eliminating all short and medium-term debt


  • Early Childhood
    • Smart Start IL — $250 million to fund the first year of the Governor’s early childhood plan with funding increases to eliminate preschool deserts, stabilize the childcare workforce, expand the Early Intervention Program and Home Visiting programs, plus funding to begin the overhaul of the childcare payment management system
    • $1.6 million to launch Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library statewide
  • K-12
    • $350 million for K-12 evidence-based funding formula
    • $45 million for the first year of a three-year pilot to fill teacher vacancies, plus additional investments in scholarships for future teachers
    • $3 million to expand access to computer science coursework
  • Higher Education
    • $100 million in additional MAP grant funding, ensuring everyone at or below the median income can go to community college for free
    • $100 million increase for public universities ($80.5 million) and community colleges ($19.4 million) – the highest increases in more than two decades
    • Increases funding for AIM High merit-based scholarships by $15 million

Fighting Poverty

  • HOME ILLINOIS — $85 million increase, bringing state funding to over $350 million, to support homelessness prevention, affordable housing, outreach, and other programs
  • $20 million investment in a new Illinois Grocery Initiative to expand grocery access to underserved rural towns and urban neighborhoods

Health and Human Services

  • Nearly $75 million increase for DCFS to hire 192 staff, expand training and protection, increase scholarships for youth in care, and improve facilities
  • $22.8 million in funding to begin implementing the new Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative
  • $18 million increase to support reproductive health initiatives
  • $24 million for a rate increase for home workers who assist the elderly, increased outreach to the elderly, and an increase for Adult Day Service
  • Continued funding for the $250 million Reimagine Public Safety Act to prevent gun violence and expanded funding for youth employment programs
  • $53.5 million to overhaul IDPH disease monitoring IT and prepare for future public health emergencies
  • Over $500 million in new state and federal funds to support the state’s healthcare system
  • Approximately $240 million increase to better serve Illinoisans with developmental disabilities

Economic Development

  • Taking another step towards phasing out the corporate franchise tax
  • $400 million to close major economic development deals and attract businesses and jobs to the state
  • Expanded workforce development programs to build a pipeline in the industries of the future, like data center, EV, and clean energy
  • $20 million to Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program
  • $40 million for forgivable loans to launch more social equity cannabis businesses
  • $10 million to fund a “one-stop business portal” to foster entrepreneurship

Gov. Pritzker Applauds Passage of Legislation to Lower the Cost of Health Insurance
Continuing his efforts to lower the cost of health insurance and bolster consumer protections in Illinois, Governor JB Pritzker applauded the full passage of both House Bill 579 and House Bill 2296, which will create a state-based health insurance marketplace and institute the first-rate review process in Illinois to protect consumers from unnecessary rate hikes.

“Through these bills, we’re taking historic action to provide affordable, quality health insurance to people all across the state,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’re holding health insurance companies accountable, preventing unnecessary rate hikes, and ensuring residents who are eligible to receive health insurance get connected to the plan they deserve. I’m thankful to Majority Leader Robyn Gabel, Senator Laura Fine, and Senator Ann Gillespie for their leadership on behalf of vulnerable Illinoisans and I look forward to signing these bills when they reach my desk.”

House Bill 579 establishes a state-based health insurance marketplace. Through the creation of this marketplace, the state of Illinois can expand healthcare access by effectively identifying traditionally underinsured communities, conducting effective outreach to them, and assisting in the enrollment process to ensure they receive the plan they need. The state-based marketplace also protects Illinois from efforts by future federal administrations to disrupt healthcare enrollment. As a result, more Illinoisans than ever before will be able to utilize a health insurance plan that works for them and their family.

House Bill 2296 is a monumental piece of consumer protection legislation that substantially advances health care affordability. When signed into law, Illinois will join 41 other states in protecting Illinois consumers and small businesses from unfair premium rate hikes. For the first time, insurance companies will have to provide specific information about how they set their rates and the Department of Insurance will have the authority to deny rate hikes that are not adequately justified.

This will be accomplished by implementing the following measures:

  • Providing the Department of Insurance the authority to approve, modify, or disapprove health premium rates that it determines to be unreasonable or inadequate in the individual and small group market.
  • Increasing transparency for consumers and small business by adding reporting requirements for insurance companies.
  • Giving the Department of Insurance the data it needs to explain to consumers and small businesses in layman’s terms why people pay what they pay in a yearly report.

Both bills will now be sent to Governor Pritzker for his signature.

Early Childhood Legislation
Illinois’ spring legislative session ended with an impressive collection of policy wins and new state investments for children that will help support the workforce of today and prepare the workforce of tomorrow. Following are highlights of measures that have passed the General Assembly, and now await the Governor’s expected signature to become final:

Key early childhood investments in the budget. Overall, the FY24 state budget includes an increase of more than $300 million for a range of early childhood programs.

  • Preschool — a $75 million (12.5%) increase to create as many as 5,000 new slots in the next year and boost program quality with some funding also flowing to birth-to-3 services.
  • Childcare — a $170 million (41.4%) boost to reach more children through the Child Care Assistance Program, improve its data system, and to stabilize and strengthen the childcare sector by increasing compensation and credentialing for the underpaid early childcare workforce.
  • Home-visiting programs — a $5 million (nearly 28%) bump in these voluntary services that offer “coaching” to new and expecting parents of young children.
  • Early Intervention services — a $40 million (34.5%) increase in therapies for infants and toddlers experiencing developmental disabilities or delays.


  • Early childhood construction — $50 million for birth-to-5 facility construction and repair efforts, a 50% increase from current spending levels. (However, one note: this new funding is restricted to school districts to address preschool “deserts.”)
  • Dolly Parton Imagination Library — $1.6 million to provide books for children to support literacy.

Another additional $5 million will help the Illinois State Board of Education to improve early learning services for preschoolers with disabilities and developmental delays through stronger inclusion steps in schools and community-based settings.

Outside of early childhood priorities, the budget adds another $100 million to Monetary Award Program grants that aid low-income college students with tuition assistance. This helps increase the workforce diversity pipeline.

In addition to the budgetary wins for young children, a few substantive pieces of legislation passed this session that elevate the early childhood and address sector needs:

  • Curbing the opioid crisis — The Illinois House and Senate each adopted resolutions noting the important role of key, birth-to-3 programs in aiding the prevention and remediation of opioid abuse. These measures also encourage state leaders to tap into an emerging funding source to help boost home-visiting and Early Intervention services: some funding from the settlement of lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors (Senate Resolution 36; House Resolutions 86 and 37).
  • Protecting home-visiting programs — Lawmakers unanimously passed a bill that codifies these services in state statute for the first time, reflecting their value in helping parents learn how best to support the healthy development of their infants and toddlers (SB1794).
  • Easing the early childhood staffing shortage — A bill carrying a range of education measures includes one that ReadyNation and our partners have strongly supported: the extension of some short-term flexibility in staffing early learning classrooms. Normally, a lead teacher in a Preschool for All program would have to hold both a Professional Educator License (PEL) and an Early Childhood Education (ECE) endorsement. But a new law in 2018 temporarily eased this restriction to help short-staffed classrooms, requiring only that lead teachers be working toward their PELs as long as they held other strong credentials. This allowance is now extended for another five years (SB2390).
  • Preserving eligibility for childcare assistance — Current guidelines provide that working families earning less than 225% of the federal poverty level can receive childcare assistance. The budget-implementation bill protects this guideline in statute, ensuring that families can consistently rely on this assistance (HB3817).

Illinois approves increased rates for Medicaid in coming fiscal year
Illinois’ new budget includes rate increases for Medicaid and better access to health care for the state’s undocumented immigrants. The state budget and budget implementation bills were among the final bills the legislature passed before adjourning early Saturday morning. Another bill, Senate Bill 1298, is an all-encompassing measure impacting the state’s Medicaid spending.

State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, discussed some of the rate increases that will be coming through the passage of this measure. “A rate increase for supported living facilities, a rate increase for federally qualified health centers, and a rate increase for care for medically fragile technologically dependent children and their full-time nurses,” Gabel said.

The rate increases will cost the state an extra $317 million. The measure received support from Republican lawmakers, including state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Cherry Valley. However, there were questions about how this could affect hospitals that may need more reimbursement than is being allotted. “This does address some of the needs that we have here,” Syverson said. “It may be an inconvenient truth, but clearly, one of the biggest groups that are going to be hurt by this budget and by this measure is the hospitals.”

Another provision in the bill is one that provides undocumented migrants with health care. This has been a hot-button issue among lawmakers as the state has seen an influx of migrants arriving from Texas this year. Earlier this month, Syverson said that undocumented migrants should not be the lone responsibility of Illinois taxpayers. The federal government should step up.

“If they are going to keep the border open, then they should be paying for those costs, not asking Illinois taxpayers to put aside programs for the disabled, seniors and our own residents to provide high-quality health care for people from other countries,” Syverson said.

Illinois does not expect any federal matching funds for subsidizing undocumented migrant health care costs. State Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, spoke in support of the subsidies in the omnibus bill, saying that undocumented migrants in Illinois are taxpayers and deserve health care. “They pay taxes regardless of whether they have a social security number or not,” said Villanueva. “They pay taxes.”

A recent audit estimated the cost of the subsidies for migrant health care could be more than $1 billion. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the budget plan will give him the tools to implement cost savings for the program through things like copays.

Nuclear Construction
Lawmakers also approved a measure, Senate Bill 76, that would allow for the construction of “advanced” nuclear reactors in the state. A state law dating back to the 1980s placed a moratorium on building those power plants until the federal government designates a repository for nuclear waste, something the federal government has yet to do.

SB 76 was approved with bipartisan support earlier in May, passing on an 84-22 vote in the House and a 36-14 vote in the Senate. The measure initially lifted the ban on construction for all nuclear plants, although debate on the bill focused primarily on the latest generation of nuclear technology. That includes prefabricated small modular nuclear reactors and microreactors.

That intention was eventually codified in an amendment and the final bill would only allow the construction of “advanced nuclear reactors” as defined in federal law. The bill’s chief Senate sponsor, Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said that those types of reactors are valuable to provide reliability to the grid as the state shifts toward renewables.

“The value of the modular and the small advanced nuclear reactors are that we can drop them on coal plants that are shuttered,” Rezin said in an interview shortly after the bill passed last week. “We can drop them right on site and build them out there and tie them right into their transmission line or their grid system which they already have built into the plant.”

The proposal drew criticism from both environmental groups like the Sierra Club and anti-nuclear advocates like David Kraft, the head of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service. “The legislature has opened the door for more reactors and more waste,” Kraft said in an interview.

Health Insurance
HB 2296 passed the House on concurrence 69-38-1. This bill provides that beginning before or on May 1, 2026, and each May 1 thereafter, the Department of Insurance shall report to the Governor and the General Assembly on health insurance coverage, affordability, and cost trends.

Provides that any forms and rates filed for large employer group accident and health insurance shall be automatically deemed approved after 90 days after filing. Provides that beginning plan year 2026, rate increases for all individual and small group accident and health insurance policies must be filed with the Department for approval. Provides that unreasonable rate increases or inadequate rates shall be modified or disapproved.

Provides that beginning plan year 2025, the Department shall post all insurers’ rate filings and summaries on the Department’s website. Provides that the Department shall open a 30-day public comment period on the date that a rate filing is posted on the website. Provides that after the close of the public comment period, the Department shall issue a decision to approve, disapprove, or modify a rate filing within 60 days, and post the decision on the Department’s website. Provides that the Department shall adopt rules implementing specified procedures.

BIPA Reform
Sadly another year came and went without the implementation of BIPA reform. BIPA reform has been severely needed to the state’s misguided law, including a retroactive limit to nuclear damages and a security exception.  Reports were heard about a deal that fell apart at the last minute when neither retroactivity nor a security exception was offered. A limitation on future suits is appreciated as a step in the right direction.

The goal remains through this process to provide compliance clarity for entities operating in Illinois while maintaining strong privacy protections for individuals. It is hopeful that a path remains to provide clarity surrounding the law, as requested in recent decisions by the Illinois Supreme Court. There is a belief that it is possible to implement a solution that balances personal security and common-sense application.

I-55 Managed Lane Construction
HJR 23, I-55-Support was adopted 39-11-0. This resolution supports the “I-55 Managed Lane Project” and IDOT’s efforts to pursue the project as a P3.

Racing the clock — lawmakers hope to wrap up debt ceiling fight this week
There is less than a week until the U.S. could default on its federal debt, but lawmakers have expressed optimism that a deal hashed out over the Memorial Day holiday weekend will finally get the ball rolling this week.

Formally known as the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” the 99-page bill would limit federal spending and raise the debt ceiling for two years. House GOP leadership and the White House are on board with the plan, but there are a few hiccups that could linger.

The bipartisan debt limit deal cleared its first hurdle, fending off a fizzled rebellion in the House Rules committee, and is now headed for its next test: winning approval in the House. The package appears to be on track to get the votes needed from both sides of the aisle to clear the House, though around 30 House Republicans went public Tuesday with their intentions to vote against the bill with dozens more saying they remained undecided.

That is putting the whip operations in overdrive to secure all the votes they can ahead of the vote, which isn’t expected until about 8:30 p.m. tonight. Republican and Democratic leaders are still trying to shore up support for the proposal as they try to wrangle some skeptical members. But things are certainly looking up from where they stood heading into the holiday weekend.

Will County ARPA Funds
$53.3 Million of recovery funds have been awarded around Will County to provide support to government bodies, businesses, and local agencies. These are totals as of May 19, 2023. To see full information and listings visit:

$2.2 Million Awarded
18 Local Agencies

$2.5 Million Awarded
25 Local Agencies

$1.2 Million Awarded
20 Local Agencies

$4.3 Million Awarded
32 Local Agencies

$17.2 Million Awarded
46 Local Agencies

$15.9 Million Awarded
37 Local Agencies

$10 Million Awarded
38 Local Agencies

Stay well,

Mike Paone
Executive Vice President
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct