Catching up with Coffey

Keeping you caught up with issues impacting our state and our community.


Illinois borrows from Wall Street.  Illinois is selling $2.45 billion in general obligation (GO) bonds in an environment of rising global interest rates. The bonds are being sold in four batches, sized as $1.1 billion, $1.0 billion, $200 million, and $150 million, with different terms and maturity dates.

The budget proposed by Gov. JB Pritzker for FY24 includes $46.5 billion in capital appropriations, which far exceeds available cash flow. In addition, the Pritzker administration has created a wholly new $400 million Large Business Attraction Fund. This Fund is designed to achieve one-time incentive enhancement goals, especially with respect to so-called “megaprojects.” If and when a megaproject deal is announced, the deal announcement will claim that the deal will pay for itself over time, but the State will need up-front money right now.   

The “Investor Presentation” drafted by the State of Illinois’ underwriters, with the assistance of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), includes a full section, “Pension Update,” on Illinois’ current pension situation. Illinois’ five State-managed pension systems continue to be severely underfunded with respect to long-term obligations. The five systems currently assume a rate of return on their existing assets of between 6.50% and 7.00, with a weighted average of 6.84%. Should returns drop below this number, the unfunded pension gap of these five systems would further increase. Illinois’ pension systems currently post an unfunded liability number of more than $100 billion. As of the end of FY22, the five systems were 44.1% funded.


Firefighters join list of Illinois first responders who paid the ultimate price in 2023.  Two Chicago firefighters died in the line of duty in the second week of April. Jermaine Pelt, age 49, died on Tuesday, April 11, while facing a house fire in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood on the city’s Far South Side. On Wednesday, April 12, a separate blaze broke out in a condominium high rise on Chicago’s Near North Side. Those who fought the fire were told it was on the building’s 27th floor. Fire Lt. Jan Tchoryk, age 55, gave his life in the skyscraper inferno.

The Illinois House paid tribute to the fallen first responders in their session in Springfield on Tuesday, April 18. The Illinois Fallen Firefighters Memorial, a combination sculpture and gathering place, commemorates all Illinois firefighters, but especially those who have given their lives in the line of duty. The Memorial is the site for the annual Firefighter Medal of Honor Ceremony and Memorial Service. The ceremony and Memorial Service will be held this year on Thursday, May 9, at 10 a.m.     


Emerging Women Leaders recognized by trailblazers.  On Tuesday, Illinois House Republicans hosted the 2023 Emerging Women Leaders Recognition Event. Nearly 50 women from across the state of Illinois were honored at this event. All of the honorees were invited by their respective State Representatives for their achievements as leaders in their careers and communities.

The event kicked off with a brunch that was highlighted by a keynote address delivered by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White, the first black woman to serve on the state’s high court. Justice Holder White discussed the obstacles she and many other women face when working to achieve positions of leadership. She ended her speech with a strong message of empowerment and the need to make space for women in government.

Following the brunch, the honorees attended a listening session hosted by the first female Minority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, Leader Tony McCombie, and the first black Lieutenant Governor in state history, Juliana Stratton. Both women spoke in depth about the connection they share as women in politics, even though they sit on opposite sides of the aisle. Together they asked questions about the challenges the honorees faced as women and encouraged suggestions on how Illinois government can help.

The honorees were then guided to the House Speaker’s Gallery where they watched the day’s legislative session in the Illinois House of Representatives. Leader Tony McCombie took a moment to recognize the guests from the House floor, commending their achievements as Emerging Women Leaders.

This event concluded with a tour of the Capitol, led by the first female Architect of the Illinois Capitol, Andrea Aggertt.

“We were privileged to host an extraordinary group of women from every corner of Illinois who are truly making a positive impact in their communities,” said Leader McCombie. “I would like to thank each of them for sharing their stories with us and for their dedication toward improving the quality of life for women and families in this state we are proud to call home.”

Leader McCombie and the Illinois House Republicans plan to make the Emerging Women Leaders Recognition an annual event, building on the success of the first such event hosted in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the recognition to be postponed from 2020-2022.