Illinois’ political leaders want to use $7.5B in COVID aid to repay debt, boost economy

“At the heart of our agenda are the working families and everyday Illinoisans who have too often in the past been left out and left behind,” the governor and leaders wrote.  “That’s why the (remaining federal funds) must also be dedicated to spurring job creation and igniting economic growth.”

It continues, “Putting people to work and growing our state’s economy means accelerating our infrastructure plans for rebuilding Illinois, supporting our small businesses—our greatest job creators—and making sure our educational and health care institutions thrive.”

Neither Pritzker, Harmon or Welch would elaborate.  But one top Republican, Deputy House Republican Leader Tom Demmer, said his caucus strongly backs helping business before boosting spending on government programs.

“I think we’d look at what we can do to support the parts of the economy that have been hardest hit,” Demmer said. “As things reopen and the economy gets going again, we don’t want Illinois to miss out.”

For instance, Demmer said one state aid program that provided business interruption grants was able to serve only about 20 percent of applicants. That program could use part of the federal money, he said.

At least some lawmakers also are likely to push for more aid to public grade and high schools, since Pritzker’s proposed 2022 budget does not include the expected $350 million boost in the new need-based school funding formula. But others in Springfield say schools are receiving significant extra help from different provisions of the federal aid bill, and that the money is needed more elsewhere.

The Legislature is scheduled to approve a new budget by the end of May, but could run longer. Democrats have a supermajority of both chambers and, barring an internal split, will be able to do pretty much what they want.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

April 13, 2021 at 01:24PM

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