Commission to ‘Restore Illinois’ issues first report without meeting

(The Center Square) – The first report from the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission surfaced Thursday, a day after it was supposed to be shared with state lawmakers, and without any kind of meeting of the commission.

The state law creating the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission was signed by the governor last month and required an initial report on how to revive the state’s economy to be issued July 1.

Legislative leaders appointed all the members with majority Democrats a couple of weeks ago, but the 14-member commission hasn’t held a meeting yet.

One lawmaker said the commission received the report Wednesday just after 5 p.m. from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity via email, several other commission members throughout the day Wednesday said the report was nowhere to be found.

After requests for a status on the report through the day Wednesday’s deadline for the report to be issued, a DCEO spokesperson who was traveling Wednesday shared the report with The Center Square on Thursday morning.

“The report submitted acknowledges where Illinois is today, having just entered Phase 4 of the plan, with considerable progress made toward slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reopening businesses since May 5th,” DCEO spokesperson Lauren Huffman said in a statement Thursday. “This report outlines our state’s successful efforts of getting Illinoisans back to work, helping businesses and communities get the assistance they need, and starting the process of rebuilding our economy.”

Commission member state Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said before the report was issued he wanted the commission to look at things such as delaying the minimum wage increase that went into effect July 1. He also wanted to investigate the rationale behind the COVID-19 restrictions.

Commission member state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said before the report was issued he wanted to lift the governor’s cap on gatherings of 50 or more. That’s part of Phase 4 of the governor’s plan and something the hotel and convention industry has been trying to change.

“This cap of 50 is a big concern,” Crespo said. “So I think we need to have a good conversation on that.”

He also said manufacturing companies should be brought into the conversation.

But there have been no meetings and it’s unclear when there will be a meeting. House Assistant Majority Leader Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, is a co-chair of the commission. She didn’t return messages seeking comment.

“Since the start of this crisis, the administration has and will continue to welcome input by members of the General Assembly to ensure a safe reopening of our state and continued progress made on the Governor’s public health approach to combating COVID-19,” a statement from DCEO stated.

Crespo said that’s not been the case. He said it’s not just Republicans with frustrations. Democrats have also had frustrations.

“And they’ve felt that oftentimes they’ll reach out to the administration and they will not get a response back and what we’re hoping is that with this commission we will structure something that will be a give and take,” Crespo said.

The report also outlines various assistance programs the Pritzker administration facilitated, including hundreds of millions of tax dollars for things like job training, low-income energy assistance, business grants and more.

Further reports are set to be issued every 30 days until the commission is repealed at the end of the calendar year.

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