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The Village of Barrington is now leasing office space at their Village Hall to U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) for $200/month including utilities

Special use permits and an application for a tax increment financing district were approved at the Barrington Village Board special meeting Monday, with village leaders saying these represent financial bright spots for the northwest suburb.

Trustees approved a special use permit request in connection with a planned mixed-used development at 222 S. Cook Street.  Carter Financial Group is proposing a two-story addition to the south side of its existing 2,619-square-foot building. The company is looking to make landscaping, hardscape, lighting, and signage improvements, as well as upgrade accessibility, village officials said.

Additionally, the board authorized the hiring of a village payroll accountant and approved an ordinance to lease office space at Village Hall to U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, whose 6th Congressional District includes Barrington. The lease terms include $200 monthly rent for a 150-square-foot space that includes internet service, phones, janitorial service and meeting room space if needed.

Read more here.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker is proposing tax increases on businesses just months after they led the charge against his progressive income tax initiative.

Pritzker wants lawmakers’ help in passing a budget that he said “removes corporate loopholes” by clawing nearly $1 billion from Illinois businesses a year after thousands were closed by his pandemic-induced executive orders.

Pritzker gave his budget address Wednesday afternoon. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the governor presented virtually from the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

“I had bolder plans for our state budget than what I am going to present to you today. It would be a lie to suggest otherwise,” he said. “But as all our families have had to make hard choices over the last year, so too does state government. And right now, we need to pass a balanced budget that finds the right equilibrium between tightening our belts and preventing more hardships for Illinoisans already carrying a heavy load.”

His $41.6 billion budget proposal includes no new income tax hikes, something he warned would happen if the state didn’t scrap its flat tax protection in the Illinois Constitution.

In revising the revenue forecast up and erasing the budget gap with extended borrowing, Pritzker now estimates the state will have a budget surplus.

The state was facing a $3.9 billion budget shortfall in November. Pritzker said he has closed that gap. They borrowed from the federal Municipal Liquidity Facility fund, Illinois’ treasury funds, and other accounts controlled by the state comptroller. He said a November estimate was conservative and the state plans to pay what’s due in federal loan repayments early. Pritzker expects to end the current fiscal year with a $77 million surplus and increase that to $120 million if lawmakers follow his lead.

Illinois’ Constitution requires lawmakers to enact a balanced budget, but that requirement is often sidestepped with overly-optimistic revenue estimates.

Read more here.

Related:Illinois GOP launches FirePritzker.org while Democrats say Republicans don’t have pandemic recovery plan

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s team announced last week it will enlist federal Disaster Survivor Assistance teams to help at COVID-19 vaccination sites in Cook and St. Clair counties. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give Cook County $49 million to help with vaccine distribution.

That’s entirely appropriate because so far, Illinois’ rollout of vaccinations has been flat-out disastrous.

It’s as if seniors across the region have had to come out of retirement to take on a new full-time job — tracking down the ever-elusive vaccine injection. They’re spending hours — and days — cold-calling potential vaccination sites and scrolling through the internet for injection appointments. Refresh. Refresh.

And how about these optics? At the same time elderly Illinoisans maddeningly scour their communities for a shot at a shot, Pritzker put state lawmakers at the front of the line. On Wednesday, members of the General Assembly were offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a state police facility in Springfield. One Tribune reader, Phillip Tutor of Schaumburg, wrote to us, “How about we have a law that no Illinois politician gets his or her COVID-19 vaccination until all Illinois residents get theirs? I then would bet that this vaccine rollout fiasco gets fixed in record time.”

The vaccine rollout in Illinois has been, well, as Tutor says, a “fiasco.” As of late last week, Illinois ranked 37th among states and D.C. in terms of rate of shots injected and that was actually an improvement. Of the vaccines it has received from the federal government, Illinois has injected 66.2% of those doses, which puts the state under the national average of 68%. As of late, distribution has been improving in Illinois, but the question remains: Why has Pritzker’s vaccine distribution management been so subpar, compared to other states? And why does he keep pretending it hasn’t been?

Read the full Chicago Tribune editorial here.

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The worst-governed state — Illinois had triple the population loss of the state with the second-highest out-migration between 2010 and 2020 — is contemplating another incentive for flight. On Feb. 16, a joint committee of the state legislature will decide whether to turn into a legal requirement the State Board of Education’s recommendation that — until a slight rewording — would mandate that all public-school teachers “embrace and encourage progressive viewpoints and perspectives.” If the board’s policy is ratified, Illinois will become a place congenial only for parents who are comfortable consigning their children to “education” that is political indoctrination, audaciously announced and comprehensively enforced.

Imposing uniformity of thought is the board of education’s agenda for “Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading” (CRTL). This builds upon Illinois’ 2015 law requiring teachers to implement “action civics,” which means leading their pupils in activism on behalf of various causes. CRTL would make explicit that only woke causes are worthy causes.

Fortunately, a member of the state legislature’s joint committee, Rep. Steve Reick (R), is resisting CRTL. He notes that it will further burden teachers with mandates, and diminish teachers’ autonomy and hence job satisfaction, during the state’s teacher shortage: At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Illinois schools were short 2,000 teachers. Already mandated teaching subjects include Black history, women’s history, the “history, roles, and contributions of the LGBT community,” anti-bias and anti-bullying, “disability history and awareness,” “social and emotional learning,” “violence prevention and conflict resolution,” and “contributions of a number of defined ethnic groups made to Illinois and the U.S.” Literature, science, writing, arithmetic? Presumably, if there is any spare time.

Chicago’s public schools are already implementing the curriculum of the 1619 Project, the malevolently conceived and incompetently executed New York Times lens for seeing U.S. history as all about racism. After the project won a Pulitzer Prize with the splashy contention that the nation’s true founding was the arrival of enslaved people in Virginia 402 years ago, the Times revised its demonstrably absurd contention that protecting slavery was a “primary reason” for the American Revolution. Instead, the Times said “some” colonists rebelled to defend slavery, and termed this a “small” revision.

Read more of The Washington Post’s op-ed here.

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Illinois’ population decline has been accelerating during the past 7 years, while neighboring states gain from that loss.

Illinois lost three times as many residents as any other state during the past decade.

While total numbers for the decade were bad, the ongoing worry is because losses were accelerating.

Illinois recorded a seventh straight year of population loss from July 2019 to July 2020, but the year’s drop was historic – 79,487 residents, the most since World War II and the second largest of any state in raw numbers or percentage of population. Larger declines year over year have also caused Illinois to suffer the largest raw decline in population, and second largest on a percentage basis since 2010, shedding 253,015 people – triple any other state’s losses.

Population decline is even worse when you consider the experiences of nearby states last year and during the decade. The Midwest as a whole grew population by 1.34 million from 2010 to 2020, and Illinois was the only state in the entire region to experience population loss during the decade.

Read on here.

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The plywood over the windows, which cost taxpayers $30,000, was starting to come down Thursday. That’s after nearly a week of a heightened security presence based on a threat that never materialized.

Last week, images of construction crews putting plywood over the windows of the Illinois State Capitol were mixed with images of armed Illinois National Guard soldiers blocking streets and creating a perimeter around the complex.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered 250 soldiers from the Illinois National Guard to support security at the capitol and other state government buildings in Springfield. The move was in response to a threat the FBI said involved possible armed protests at the state capitals of every state leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden Wednesday.

Such protests never materialized in Illinois.

Read on here.

Related:Now-closed McCormick Place COVID-19 hospital cost taxpayers $15M to staff, run

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Restaurant owners aren’t giving up. They’ve struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic, retrenching to stay in business, investing in safety protocols, re-imagining their menus to offer takeout and delivery fare. They’ve shown indomitable spirit. Most have played by the state’s strict rules. Now it’s time for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to give them a reasonable break.

Governor, reopen the dining rooms.

Pritzker shut down indoor dining in October when the coronavirus outbreak spiked, renewing hardships on a crucial jobs sector. That spike has now tapered. Takeout food is an option for customers, but it’s not the same draw for cooped-up residents, many of whom would be eager to go out to eat, assuming all proper social distancing and hygiene rules are in place.

This is a matter of being fair, reasonable and protective of the economy. “The rules are lopsided against restaurants,” chef Brian Jupiter of Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern & Packaged Goods told the Tribune. In December, we saw shopping malls bursting at the seams and that wasn’t an issue. We are sanitizing the living s— out of everything. Wearing masks. But we still can’t operate.

Read more of the Chicago Tribune editorial here.

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The Illinois Department of Transportation posted an update last month on the progress of the proposed widening of the IL 25 to 68 corridor of Route 62 in Barrington Hills. A copy of their report can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Here is what you need to know about the coronavirus in Illinois, what you can do to stop it from spreading, and what steps state and local governments have or have not taken in response.

Entire state hits Tier 3 lockdown, masks mandated until June 3

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Jan. 3 continued his mask mandate and social distancing requirements for another 150 days. Masks must be worn indoors as well as outdoors if a six-foot distance cannot be maintained. The orders are possible because he issued 11 disaster declarations as a result of COVID-19.

Illinoisans were all being urged to work from home and limit unnecessary travel starting Nov. 20. Tier 3 mitigations were imposed statewide, including a statewide ban on indoor dining and bars, ban on indoor group recreation and other restrictions on retail, fitness centers, offices and other indoor facilities.

Read an enlightening article from Illinois Policy here.

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Speed cameras located near schools and parks in Chicago will begin ticketing drivers for going 6-10 miles per hour over the limit starting in March, officials said Monday.

Beginning January 15, drivers spotted going 6-10 mph over the limit in so-called “Children’s Safety Zones” will receive a warning by mail. This “warning period” lasts until March 1, after which speeding drivers will get a $35 ticket in the mail instead.

Areas which have a speed camera are marked by signs and usually have a limit of around 30 mph, with those found near schools generally enforced from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. while those in park zones are often active from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days a year.

Cameras use 3D tracking radar to identify any cars traveling faster than the posted speed limit before capturing an image of the vehicle.

Previously, drivers would only receive a ticket for going 10 mph over the limit, while those found going 11 mph or more over the limit will continue receiving a $100 ticket.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot included “enhanced fine enforcement” changing the cameras’ limits as part of a budget which aimed to address the city’s $1.2 billion shortfall.

Read more here.

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