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Inside the Illinois General Assembly’s race to the finish

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

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State lawmakers are back in Springfield to wrap up this spring’s abridged legislative session. What could be addressed in the next 12 days

The budget. Gov. JB Pritzker’s $45 billion spending plan will likely look different from his February proposal — especially the freeze on the state’s gas tax, which would delay infrastructure projects and faces opposition from labor, business, and construction groups, the Pantagraph reported. 

Approving the budget has been coming down to the wire recently — and that could be the case again this year. (Budget battles have consequences that affect Illinoisans — like the 2015–17 budget impasse.) 

Crime. House Majority Leader Greg Harris alluded to an incoming public safety package by Democrats earlier this month. 

This comes after GOP lawmakers proposed legislation that would overturn the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ criminal justice reform bill, which was passed last year and many of its provisions have yet to go into effect.

Mental health reform. Illinois’ Medicaid system could change how it handles mental health services and a Children’s Mental Health Council could be created under two separate bills, according to the State Journal-Register.

👉 Check out more issues here.

P.S. Wondering why the Illinois General Assembly is wrapping up so early? The pandemic delayed Census collection which delayed redistricting which delayed the primary elections that are now happening in June. 

PSA: Your handy-dandy primary guide is here! Request your primary mail-in ballot starting Wednesday.


Homicides and carjackings across the city often lead to calls for more police on the streets, on the CTA, and in neighborhoods. But residents also want more investment in mental health facilities, community development, and alternatives to police. 

In an attempt to address concerns, the city is hosting a series of town halls. We’ve watched the North/Northwest Side virtual town hall and in-person events at Garfield Park on the West Side and Chicago State University on the South Side. 

But let’s be real, these anti-violence town halls aren’t new, so are neighbors really getting the answers they are looking for from the city? 

🎧 City Cast’s Simone Alicea answers that question.

👉  Attend more town halls in other parts of the city in the coming weeks.


Chicago, are you worried about our democracy in America? If you read the City Cast newsletter, then you’re most likely a very engaged citizen. Democracy is in danger and needs your help now more than ever. 

That’s why The Democracy Group has created a community and network of 16 podcasts united around the goal of helping listeners understand what’s broken in our democracy, and how people are working together to fix it.

Subscribe to their newsletter for podcast recommendations, deep dives, and information about how to become an engaged citizen in saving our democracy.


▪️ A judge gave the Chicago Police Department three more years to meet reforms laid out in a 2019 federal consent decree. [CBS Chicago]

▪️ The state health department is closing 10 COVID-19 testing sites Thursday, and the city will only offer some residents $50 gift cards for in-home vaccinations starting Friday.

▪️ City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran is hosting the Moth at Evanston SPACE at 7 p.m. There are a few more tickets at the door.

▪️ Help TikTok historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas get a bus for his tours! [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Tune into this North Side pirate radio station for old radio dramas. [WBEZ]

▪️ More than 20 restaurants were added to Chi’s Michelin food guide 🤤 [NBC Chicago]


Alright, friends, we’re in the Elite Eight of our Summertime Chi Music Fest Madness brackets. Time to vote for which fests you want to see in the semi-finals! Vote by Tuesday 🗳️

Gloria Allen at the Center on Halsted in Northalsted in 2019. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune/Getty)

As Women’s History Month wraps up, we’re showcasing different women who’ve made their mark in Chicago history. 

Months after City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran interviewed Gloria Allen, aka Mama Gloria, I’m still thinking about her remarkable life story. 

From growing up in Englewood under the protective and loving eye of her family and community to the “Sissy Balls” of the ‘60s to her decades-long advocacy work, Mama Gloria is simply incredible.

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