February 17, 2021 – Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday presented a slimmer state budget with no income tax increases. But the budget relies on federal relief from the COVD-19 pandemic, transfers from other funds, and elimination of hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate tax breaks needing legislative approval. The $41.6 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is a 4.2% decrease from its predecessor. The proposal is a far cry from the dire predictions doled out last fall by members of the administration who were campaigning for Pritzker’s top priority, a graduated income tax that hit the wealthy harder.
Reactions to the Governor’s address:
State Senator Doris Turner: “Today’s budget proposal from Governor Pritzker shows that he understands that crucial human services need to be maintained in order for a complete economic recovery once we return to normalcy. Those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 will reap the benefits of a bolstered Illinois Department of Employment Security, mental health services, and senior assistance programs. These investments will go a long way to ensuring the correction of systemic failures that hurt so many during the COVID-19 crisis. There are some encouraging aspects of the governor’s proposal, and I look forward to further discussions with him and his team to improve upon it. People from all corners of the 48th district are hurting, and I intend to play a key role in delivering the relief they sorely deserve.”
State Representative Dan Caulkins: “Governor Pritzker’s budget proposal released today continues to punish the small businesses he forced to close last March by introducing new taxes on the very same small businesses doing all they can to survive during the pandemic. This budget is not balanced nor will it cure Illinois’ fiscal crisis. Now that we have seen the governor’s budget, it’s up to the House to hold appropriations hearings to craft a budget that is balanced – without new taxes and over-spending. The people I represent sent us to Springfield to fix the fiscal crisis, not make it worse. I will do everything I can to advocate for a balanced budget that will take effect on July 1.”
State Representative Sue Scherer: “The state’s budget must address the issues families are facing every day. We have all been witnesses to the crippling effects of this pandemic that has gone on for far too long. There will be many decisions made as lawmakers continue to work with the governor to create a balanced budget. We must make sure we are creating a safe and effective vaccine rollout plan so our communities can take the necessary steps to work toward normalcy. Our parents should feel safe and confident that their children can return to school and get their education without worry of the pandemic. We have many essential workers who have continually made sacrifice after sacrifice to ensure our communities could still operate during these trying times. We cannot let their efforts go in vain, as legislators, the time is now to make tough decisions in the best interest of the people of Illinois, our workers and those desperate to find a job”
State Senator Chapin Rose: “Our state’s finances are a mess. Rather than reality, we got gimmicks dreamed up in an alternate universe than the one Illinoisans have to live in. Who uses their Discover card to pay their Visa bill, anyway? That is what Governor Pritzker is doing with the current-year budget. And in the next budget year, removing the pension payment from the operating expenses of the state to pretend that operating expenses aren’t increasing – isn’t reality either. Nor is using $1.7 billion in assumptions that require federal or state legislative approval – this is the same junk that past governors of both parties have been roundly criticized for doing. Look, budgeting isn’t an easy job, and I don’t envy his position, but we can’t keep driving down the same broken road expecting better results. Speaking of ‘roads’ did I mention his ‘road fund diversions?” Again, thumbing his nose at the will of the people of Illinois who rightly instituted a “lockbox” constitutional amendment to protect road funding. He can say, ‘all is well’ but the people of Illinois know better and will not be fooled by today’s speech – just like they weren’t fooled by Pritzker’s progressive tax increase idea.”
State Representative Brad Halbrook -“The Governor has a real opportunity to move our state in a new direction, but instead all he has offered is more of the same,” Halbrook. “Anyone looking at this budget in the hopes that any of the structural problems in Illinois would be addressed is going to be very disappointed. It’s time to get Illinois’ fiscal house in order. The house is on fire, and the Governor is boarding up the windows all the while suggesting he has it all under control and there is nothing to see here. The Governor’s $42 billion budget relies on nearly $1 billion in tax increases on small businesses; fund sweeps and other gimmicks. If the budget were based on current law, the budget would be out of balance by $1.653 billion. That deficit would be in addition to the state’s $5 billion unpaid bill backlog, $4.3 billion in short-term debt and $141 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. While the Governor is asking for a stand-alone bill to allocate $60 million to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, and he is asking for additional funds for the Department of Child and Family Services and the Department of Public Health, there does not seem to be a plan to improve delivery of services at these agencies other than to throw more money at the problem. The state has spent money on a myriad of different ways to improve efficiencies and customer service and so spending money has never been the problem,” Halbrook said. “The problem has been that none of the spending has produced tangible results. I have a really hard time giving the Governor more money to spend when all he has done is spend more money to make the customer service at these agencies worse. Eliminating tax breaks on small businesses is a tax increase,” Halbrook said. “These taxes will hurt small businesses and ultimately hurt consumers with higher prices that will be the result of higher taxes. The Governor is raising taxes, and to say otherwise is simply not a true statement.”
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy: “Spurned by the progressive tax defeat last November, Governor Pritzker is taking his anger out on the people of Illinois with his latest budget proposal. Despite a global pandemic that has forced families and businesses to cut costs to survive, Pritzker’s plan, riddled with accounting gimmicks, spends the same record amount as last year at the same time cutting funding for public schools, eliminating scholarships for poor children, and hiking taxes on small businesses. Other than front-line healthcare workers, no one has sacrificed more during the pandemic than small business owners and our school-age children. This budget hits them the hardest. It’s quite simple – Pritzker is a sore loser who has proposed a truly nasty budget.”
Illinois Federation of Teachers: “Despite the pandemic, Governor Pritzker has made huge strides in moving our state forward. We’re pleased to see that his proposed budget does not rely on increasing taxes or layoffs that would only hurt working families. We support his decision to close corporate tax loopholes to fund vital services and protect our hardest hit. When it comes to funding education, the Governor has done the best he can with the dire fiscal hand he has been dealt by COVID and the millionaire-led effort to prevent fair taxation in our state. When Illinois adopted the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) plan, we all hoped education dollars would flow to our neediest communities and the state’s share of education funding would steadily increase. Yet Illinois remains near the bottom of the country in equitable education funding, and for the second year in a row, it will not be increased. And higher education is still suffering from decades-long disinvestment. We remain hopeful that Governor Pritzker will increase funding for schools in FY22 if revenue projections continue to improve and that he will fully fund EBF and higher education in future years. The IFT will continue to advocate for additional sources of state revenue and increased funding for schools, colleges, and universities. Recovering from the pandemic is vital to Illinois’ economic well-being, and it will take our collective power to make that happen. The IFT stands ready to work with Governor Pritzker to ensure that the recovery is focused on our most vulnerable.”
National Federation of Independent Business State Director Mark Grant: “Our members are grateful for Governor Pritzker’s promise to use some of the federal CARES Act money coming into the state to help small businesses. Many are still struggling to stay afloat. However, we were disappointed to hear he’s trying to revive his plan to decouple the Illinois tax code from federal legislation allowing small businesses to deduct losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan didn’t get very far in last month’s lame-duck session, and, with the help of legislators who support small businesses, it won’t go anywhere during the regular session, either. I think legislators realize that the ‘loopholes’ the governor is talking about are really tax credits that allow businesses to grow and create jobs. That’s especially important now when so many small businesses are struggling to avoid layoffs or closing outright because of the pandemic.”
Illinois Primary Healthcare Association: IPHCA commends Governor Pritzker for prioritizing racial justice and eliminating disparities, and his commitment to protecting our state’s health care and human services systems. However, we urge the Governor and the General Assembly to make a greater investment in strengthening the communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and long suffered from a lack of resources and investment. We agree that the safety net must be protected. As part of the Governor’s commitment to advancing equity, it is imperative not only to shield health care and human services from cuts, but to strengthen funding for this vital system of support that equips individuals, families, and communities to live healthy lives and thrive. Community health centers services are inextricably linked to social services that address all of a patient’s needs, including their social determinants of health. Health and human service programs are the backbones of robust communities and they are currently in high demand as a result of the devastating COVID-19 public health emergency that has left millions of Illinoisans facing grief, loss, illness, unemployment, isolation, and housing and food insecurity. Moreover, the pandemic has been particularly distressing for communities of color, immigrant communities, and low income communities – exacerbating the challenges they already face as a result of historic underinvestment and marginalization.
Americans for Prosperity Illinois State Director Jason Heffley: “Governor Pritzker has learned nothing from his failed attempt to raise taxes in November—the people of Illinois think taxes are too high and proposing a billion-dollar tax increase on small businesses in the middle of a challenging fiscal climate shows an utter lack of respect for taxpayers. Leaders need to lead, not simply propose different versions of tax increases or stick their hands out for federal bailouts when budgeting gets tough.”
Senator Paul Schimpf, Republican Candidate for Governor: “It was a massive leadership failure that Governor Pritzker failed to acknowledge that Illinois had a net loss of nearly 80,000 people during the past year in his State of the State Speech today. We are losing our population to surrounding states because they have lower tax rates including lower tax rates for corporations. It is misleading to suggest that small businesses are not corporations. Governor Pritzker is proposing to increase corporate tax burdens that will only increase the exodus of Illinoisans to more business-friendly states. We cannot solve any of our long-term problems unless Illinois returns to being a state where people want to come to raise their families and grow their businesses. Sadly, each day it becomes more evident that Pritzker would rather blame Illinois problems on everyone else including those who had no hand in creating our current problems. The people of Illinois deserve better than this plan and Governor Pritzker’s lack of candor and leadership.”
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February 17, 2021 at 03:54PM