I’m excited to present to you the second edition of “Schmidt’s Spotlight.” In this newsletter, I’m going to be touching on multiple issues, including our state budget, criminal law, jobs, and more, as well as an event I have coming up later this month in our district!
Thank you for making our district what it is. I’m grateful to be able to represent hard-working citizens like yourself who make our communities strong. We are in this together, and I will continue to share with you all the happenings in Springfield and locally as I work toward making Illinois a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
State Representative, 114th District
- Illinois House pays tribute to fallen Chicago police officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso. Slain in the line of duty, Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso was a five-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. Responding to a report that a woman was being chased down the street by a man with a gun on Chicago’s southwest side, Officer Vasquez-Lasso exchanged fire with the suspect at close range. Officer Vasquez-Lasso was shot multiple times and later died at Mt. Sinai Hospital. The 18-year-old suspect was shot in his head and is in critical condition. Officer Vasquez-Lasso’s family and fellow officers honored his heroism and mourned his death. End of Watch: March 1, 2023.
On Thursday, March 2, the Illinois House of Representatives heard tributes to the fallen officer and paused for a moment of silence to pay tribute to Vasquez-Lasso. In these tributes, House members honored the service performed by Officer Vasquez-Lasso and by his fellow police officers throughout Illinois. The fallen officer’s name will be memorialized as part of the Illinois Police Memorial, which stands on the grounds of the Illinois State Capitol.
The death of Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso added fuel to the ongoing discussion about the status of persons who have been arrested, including arrests for violent felony offenses, and are awaiting trial in Illinois. Often, under Illinois criminal law, these trials face long delays, leading to people awaiting trial for extended periods of time. The suspect in the Vasquez-Lasso murder case is a man who was under criminal charge awaiting trial and had been released on a bond of individual recognizance (the so-called I-bond). The suspect’s arrest took place on July 29, 2022, and he had been on the streets following his arrest for seven months while awaiting adjudication of his offense. The suspect allegedly shot and killed Vasquez-Lasso at near-point-blank range during this period. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended the decision to give the suspect an I-bond, stating that prior to his July 2022 arrest the defendant had not had a criminal record.
- McCombie Stands in Support of Comptroller’s Budget Stabilization Proposal. House Minority Leader Tony McCombie stood in support of Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza’s budget stabilization legislation this week. McCombie has signed onto the bill, HB 2515, as a chief co-sponsor and showed her support in person Thursday when the bill was presented in the State Government Administration Committee.
“I am proud to support Comptroller Mendoza’s legislation that could improve the financial outlook of our state. Illinois families need more measures like this proposal, which drives excess revenue into our rainy day fund and pays down our pension debt,” said House Minority Leader Tony McCombie.
- Possible nationwide recession could hamper State spending plans. In testimony presented to the House Revenue and Finance Committee, Revenue Director David Harris and Alexis Sturm, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), presented testimony on the possible impact of a Year 2023 recession on the Illinois economic outlook and State revenues available for spending.
Working with ongoing cash flow numbers that reflect tax payments made by Illinois residents to the Department of Revenue, both executives – backed by Department of Revenue chief economist Rubina Hafeez – said that the State of Illinois’ immediate financial position is good. However, their testimony included data on current projections by global economic forecasters. These forecasting groups continue to project that the U.S. economy is deemed likely to fall into a mild recession in calendar year 2023. This projected recession, if it occurs, will have a negative impact on State revenues and plans for more State spending, including multi-billion-dollar spending requests from the supermajority Democrats.
Speaking at the Revenue Committee hearing, House Republicans pointed out that Illinois’ overall record of economic underperformance relative to other U.S. states means that any possible recession could hit Illinois much harder than other regions of the country. Gov. Pritzker’s Office of Management and Budget has not yet plugged Illinois’ underperformance into its economic numbers and forecasts. The Illinois economic testimony was presented to the House Revenue Committee on Thursday, March 2.
- Month-by-month picture continues to show healthy revenues. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan fiscal watchdog office within the Illinois General Assembly, continued to track healthy State tax revenue inflows in February 2023. Personal income tax payments, corporate income tax payments, and sales tax payments to State general funds rose $380 million in February 2023 over the year-earlier figure. Non-general funds revenue streams earmarked for spending other than operations, such as sports betting tax payments earmarked for the Capital Projects Fund, also increased.
The CGFA economic team warned that growing volatility in the cash flow pictures of Illinois consumers, and the State of Illinois, could make these February 2023 cash flow trends unreliable as a guide to future outcomes. Starting with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, economic numbers in both Illinois and the U.S. as a whole have changed faster, creating greater ranges of uncertainty, than had been the case prior to the pandemic outbreak, shutdown orders, and economic crash. The CGFA revenue report for February 2023 was published on Thursday, March 2.
- House Republican push themes heard in court as case against “no cash bail” law moves toward state Supreme Court. Current state law continues to allow the circuit court to impose cash bail requirements on individuals awaiting trial, but statutory language in the controversial SAFE-T Act passed by Illinois Democrats could soon end this longtime practice. Ending cash bail would require the courts and the prosecution teams to collaborate to let most criminal suspects go free while awaiting trial.
In a public order issued in relation to a lawsuit that consolidates cases brought by 64 Illinois county state’s attorneys, the state Supreme Court has put a hold on the cash-bail repeal law. The state’s attorneys, speaking for themselves and their teams of prosecution law enforcers, are setting forth grounds for the controversial law’s unconstitutionality. Their arguments continue the themes first set forth by House Republicans when the cash-bail language appeared in a late-night lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly. The Illinois Supreme Court is reading these arguments. The high court is also reading a counter-brief, in support of the law, filed by the state Attorney General, a Democrat. Legal observers expect a decision on the “no cash bail” case later this year.
- “Site Selection” magazine grants high ranking to Illinois as a site for corporate facility projects. The ranking reflects the continuing competition between the 50 states for decisions by corporate executives to choose a state as a preferred site for investment. Based on 2022 selection activity decisions by U.S. corporate headquarters, Illinois rose from No. 3 to No. 2, shouldering past former No. 2 Ohio. The Land of Lincoln was chosen for 487 private-sector production, expansion, and operational projects, more than every other state in the Union except Texas. With 1,028 new 2022 projects logged, Texas continued to lead the nation in private-sector job creation.
Four states with greater total populations than Illinois scored below the Prairie State in the Year 2022 “Site Selection” project count. California, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania all have more people than Illinois by U.S. census count, but won lower numbers of Year 2022 project announcements. When project announcements are statistically weighted by population size to generate project announcements per capita, Illinois continued to score well (#4 among the 50 states). Illinois scored more “Site Selection” projects per capita than Indiana or Iowa but scored below aggressive Kentucky.
- Preliminary numbers say Illinois’ unemployment rate was 4.5% in January 2023. Illinois’ 4.5% unemployment rate, while it marked a 0.1% decline from the comparable rate in December 2022, was 1.1% higher than the nationwide 3.4% unemployment rate for the same month.
The preliminary Illinois January 2023 numbers, which are subject to revision as more data comes in, show continued job growth in the government and hospitality sectors of the economy. Of the net 14,300 new jobs created in Illinois during the month, 7,900 were created in government, and 6,300 were created in leisure and hospitality (including hotels and restaurants). Service sectors lost ground in Illinois in January 2023. Monthly payroll declines were notched in information science (down 900 jobs) and the separate fields of professional and business services (down 900 jobs).
DISTRICT 114 NEWS
- O’Fallon Girls Basketball Team
I’d like to share a congratulatory message for the O’Fallon girls basketball team following their Class 4A Championship win. The O’Fallon girls basketball team prevailed over Benet Academy in overtime in the Illinois Class 4A championship game. Down until the 3rd quarter, they overcome the odds to ultimately prove their skills as a team of empowered young women on a mission.
I’m proud of the skill, determination, and work ethic the O’Fallon girls basketball team displayed in their championship victory. We find ourselves in celebration of Women’s History Month, and they just showed everyone what is possible when we put in the work. I hope that their victory empowers other girls across the 114th District and Illinois as a whole to realize the unlimited potential within them.
- Cahokia Heights Sewer
The residents of Cahokia Heights are suffering. Failing infrastructure has been plaguing the people of Cahokia Heights for decades, causing sewage to back up into the streets. This situation is not a new problem, and one that the current administration is more than aware of. During an August 3rd news conference, the Governor said that $9.9 million in funding would be “delivered today.” Now, nearly seven months later, the people of Cahokia Heights still await the help they so desperately need.
A recent lawsuit from the people of Cahokia Heights cites 91 examples of sewage spilling into the streets and contaminating entire neighborhoods. Needless to say, this poses grave health risks to the people living there. If funding is not received soon, these issues will only grow worse and continue to plague the lives of every individual in the city.
The situation in Cahokia Heights is completely unacceptable. This issue is a health crisis for the residents living there and MUST be taken care of immediately. We cannot allow local families to be forced to continue living this way. The answer is simple: we must hold the Governor accountable to the fulfillment of his promise. If he simply does what he said he would do, we could make the infrastructure improvements that Cahokia Heights so desperately needs. The people of Cahokia Heights wouldn’t have to have a lawsuit if the Governor would deliver on his promises.
Click here to see these local news clips regarding this story with comments from myself:
- Day in the District
I’m excited to be doing a “Day in the District” on March 20th. I will be visiting different places across the district, such as Rush Senior Gardens in East St. Louis and the Calvary Church Food Pantry in Cahokia Heights, where donations will be accepted. More locations will be announced shortly. Stay tuned to RepSchmidt.com for more information.