Robyn Gabel (second from left)

“This is what decentralized, collective leadership looks like,” declared House Speaker Chris Welch’s spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll not long after the chamber approved the climate/energy bill on an unexpectedly lopsided 83-33 roll-call on September 9. The vote was without a doubt a spectacular victory, especially considering the Senate was not able to put together its own package that could pass both chambers and be signed into law.

While a huge cloud of coal ash exploded around Springfield’s coal-fired electric-power plant late in the afternoon, the state’s top three Democrats were huddled in a Statehouse conference room trying to find a way to slash electric power-plant carbon-emissions to zero by 2045. The irony was both unmistakable and irresistible.

The week of Governor’s Day and Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair is always packed with political events. And this year was no exception. It’s impossible to attend them all, so one has to pick and choose and go with the flow.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon decided last week to join House Speaker Chris Welch in his decision to not participate in the Democratic Party of Illinois’ new “BLUE Committee” structure.

In the wake of last week’s Census numbers release, the news media has widely reported a seeming reduction in the number of white people, both nationally and here in Illinois. “Census shows U.S. is diversifying, white population shrinking,” the Associated Press reported. “Overall, in the five collar counties, the white population declined by 183,869 over the past decade,” the Chicago Tribune reported. But is that true?

When Governor JB Pritzker recently announced that state employees who work in congregate facilities would have to be vaccinated by October 4, the largest state employee union, AFSCME (or the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees), released a statement chiding the governor. “We strongly oppose any effort to define them as part of the problem,” the powerful union claimed on behalf of those workers. But Governor Pritzker also said that about 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases in those congregate facilities “have been due to infection among employees.”

This past May, Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon Booth (D-Peoria) and Governor JB Pritzker worked out a deal with some key state business groups to mandate seven days of paid-leave per year for every employee in Illinois. Workers wouldn’t have to give any reasons for the guaranteed paid leave.

Illinois Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope announced her resignation last week and will leave office by December 15. She cited several reasons, including her thwarted attempt to issue subpoenas without any checks or balances. “True ethics reform,” she said of the legislature, “is not a priority.”

As I write this, two of the three national credit-rating agencies have upgraded the State of Illinois’ rating in a week’s time. And the only remaining hold-out owes us one. Big time.

You cannot on the one hand constantly harp about decades of Illinois credit-rating downgrades and then blithely dismiss the first bit of good Illinois rating news since George Ryan was governor. It’s okay to step away from the “Illinois is awful” screaming for a moment in the wake of last week’s upgrade of Illinois’ bond rating by Moody’s Investors Service. While not the end of our problems by any means, it signals yet another important fiscal turning-point.