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What’s in Pritzker’s spending plan?

By Jacoby Cochran | @JacobyCochran


Gov. JB Pritzker gave his State of the State address Wednesday from the Old State Capitol. With the Democrat’s reelection bid in full swing, Pritzker hoped to paint a picture of a more financially sound Illinois as he outlined his $45 billion budget

The governor announced a $1 billion Illinois Family Relief plan which includes freezing a 1% grocery tax, foregoing a small gasoline tax increase (which funds infrastructure projects), and a tax rebate for property owners. 

Some state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized Pritzker’s relief efforts as “flashy” but temporary moves that don’t amount to real relief.

The governor didn’t fully explain his plans for $3.5 billion in federal COVID relief, but he did promise to increase funding for family welfare services, schools, and grants for small businesses. 

But most of the relief money could eventually go toward the state’s $4.5 billion unemployment insurance debt, according to Crain’s Chicago.

Pritzker doubled down on pledges to add a record number of state police, more forensic scientists, and two new crime labs. He also wants to increase funding for violence prevention measures from $517 million to $832 million

Looks like Pritzker is choosing the more-is-better-approach. If everybody gets more funding, will anybody be mad?

👉 Want to read the governor’s speech yourself? Read it here.

Pritzker’s budget is likely to pass, but the governor and lawmakers don’t always align on state spending. Former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner took office in 2015 and immediately took on then-Speaker and state Democratic Party head Michael Madigan which resulted in a two-year budget impasse

And there were real-life consequences, including cuts to state-funded social service programs. New research from Northwestern University links the budget stalemate to a spike in youth homicides in Chicago. The lead researcher talked to City Cast’s Simone Alicea.

Wednesday’s Trivia Answer: 

Which son of Richard J. Daley didn’t (really) get involved in politics? Michael Daley, the Boss’ second-born son, is a prominent lawyer that has mostly stayed out of public life. Called the smartest brother, Michael has helped clients win city zoning cases. 

Shoutout to Matt Preda, Jared Rutecki, and Louise Stompor for answering correctly! Stickers coming to you all soon.


▪️ Activists are protesting the early release of ex-Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke at Federal Plaza today. Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald in 2014.

▪️ Stricter COVID-19 testing regulation could be coming to Illinois. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Black Restaurant Week starts Sunday. Get your wallets ready: Here is the list of participating restaurants. [The Triibe]

▪️ This Bronzeville resident and developer is renovating The Forum while preserving its legacy. [Chicago Sun-Times]

▪️ Root for these Chicago-area Olympians! [NBC Chicago]

▪️ Shoutout to all the photographers capturing our snowy city. [WBEZ]

A black-and-white photo booth strip shows a man proposing to a woman, her saying yes, and the two kissing. The zoo's lion is in between photos of the couple.

We love a good engagement story here at City Cast, and the way Walter Driskell proposed to his wife Anna will make your heart melt 🥺

“I didn’t want to ruin the surprise and thought a photographer hiding in the bushes might be a little weird or noticeable. So, I decided to propose in a photo booth at [Lincoln Park Zoo]. 

Outside of the obvious nerves, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the ring in my coat or that I wouldn’t time it right. 

Fortunately, everything went perfectly, and she said yes.

Attached is a photo of the proposal with all the watermarking the zoo uses. We love it and think it’s better than any pro photo.”

Join us in wishing a happy three-year anniversary to Walter and Anna!

Chi lovebirds, tell us how you fell in love in our city. Was it a person, animal, park, restaurant, or the city itself? Email, and maybe we’ll feature your love story next.


Give it up for reader Sarah Free! She’s new around here, but Sarah is already telling friends and fam to sign up for the City Cast Chicago newsletter. What. A. Champ. Want a sweet little shoutout like Sarah? 👇

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