Illinois 2022 Legislative Session Preview

January 18, 2022

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The Illinois General Assembly began an abbreviated 2022 session on Jan. 5 and is scheduled to adjourn on April 8, 2022. Due to the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, House and Senate leadership decided to cancel session for the weeks of Jan. 10 and 17. A return date to Springfield will be announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, committees continue to meet remotely.

The shortened second year of the 102nd General Assembly follows a jam-packed 2021 regular session that did not end until September. Democratic supermajorities in both the House and Senate, along with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, passed many priorities, including: a clean energy package, electric vehicle package, gaming expansion omnibus, election omnibus, ethics omnibus, redistricting and a variety of COVID-19 programs. These key packages from 2021 could see trailer legislation in 2022.

The General Assembly will pass a fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget to appropriate Illinois’ remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The state received $8.1 billion from ARPA, but appropriated only $2.5 billion in the FY 2022 budget. The majority of the remaining $5.6 billion from ARPA must be appropriated to pay off the approximately $4.4 billion in Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt. The COVID-19 pandemic overextended Illinois’ unemployment resources, leading to debt. In the fall 2021 veto session, the General Assembly passed HB 594, which extended the date to cut unemployment benefits and raise taxes on employers from Jan. 1, 2022, to July 3, 2022. This extension allows the General Assembly to use ARPA funds to pay off unemployment debt in the FY 2023 budget, rather than as a separate bill. However, taxpayers will continue to cover the cost of interest on unemployment debt until the General Assembly passes an appropriations bill.

Even after unemployment debt is fully paid off, Illinois will have around $1.2 billion in ARPA funds remaining. These funds will likely be used to create further pandemic-relief social programs and assist with the ongoing Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan. In addition to ARPA, the FY 2023 state budget will appropriate funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The federal infrastructure package provides Illinois with $17 billion to improve and modernize roads, public transportation, electric vehicle infrastructure, broadband, drinking water and airports, and to protect the state from the impacts of climate change. Federal funds will speed up the Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan, create union jobs and spur economic growth for years to come.

Besides the budget, crime is a major issue heading into the 2022 midterm election. Many Chicago legislators hope to find community and mental health-based solutions to address violent crime within the city. Republicans and moderate suburban Democrats will propose legislation strengthening punishments and supporting the police’s authority to prevent violence. Republicans hope to capitalize on fears that violence is spreading beyond Chicago, to win back suburban voters in the 2022 midterm. House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) hopes Democratic supermajorities in both chambers can pass an anti-crime package to flip the narrative that Democrats are soft on crime.