PEORIA, Ill. — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was in Peoria Wednesday to discuss the balanced budget that will be signed into law.
Pritzker highlighted a few key points within the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, including paying down state debt, closing loopholes for wealthy corporations, and investing in rebuilding the economy.
“I came into this office two sessions ago with a promise to always meet our most basic responsibility: a real balanced budget,” said Pritzker. “For the third straight year, I’ll sign into law another balanced budget for Illinois that demonstrates fiscal responsibility works with a progressive vision of governance.”
Some key investments included in the budget is an additional $350 million for K-12 education, $7.7 billion in federal funds to schools, and $570 million for small businesses and impacted industries during the pandemic.
The state is also allocating $300 million for Back to Business Grants as part of an economic recovery plan, with 40% of that going to communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Pritzker says the new funding for small businesses will build on the success of Business Interruption Grants (BIG), of which 128 Peoria businesses received money from.
“I can genuinely say with confidence: things are looking up in Illinois,” said Pritzker. “The loan that we borrowed to fight COVID-19 will be paid back more than a full-year ahead of it’s due date.
“In 2021, in Illinois, we pay our bills on time.”
By doing so, Pritzker says taxpayers were saved tens of millions of dollars in interest.
Pritzker was joined by State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) and State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) to discuss the budget and the future of Peoria.
“When decisions were made at Caterpillar to move out of Peoria, it was difficult for a few years,” said Gordon-Booth. “Now we are in a place where we’re able to think of a new vision for Peoria.
“The new iteration of Peoria is inclusive of everybody.”
The state budget, according to Gordon-Booth, will provide funding for after-school activities for students to “keep kids of the streets and keep their minds and bodies nurtured.”
Koehler said the state is ahead of schedule as far as economic recovery from the pandemic.
“Where we thought we would be and where we are now was not even imaginable,” said Koehler.
Koehler is a co-chair in the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) and said their forecasts measured up with what was put forward.
“We have come out of the dark days in which we went two years without a budget,” said Koehler. “We are now at a point where this budget is balanced.
“A budget represents your priorities.”
The budget was not passed without issue, however, as Republicans in the Illinois Senate did not favor some items.
“When our state should be doing everything it can to help kick-start our struggling economy, Democrat lawmakers have chosen to do the opposite by ramming through a partisan budget that will cut over $660 million of critical job creating incentives,” said State Senator Win Stoller (R-Germantown Hills).
“These cuts are happening despite the fact that our state ended up having access to $8.1 billion from the federal government and an additional $7.9 billion of unexpected revenue.”
Illinois House of Representatives Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) also pointed out items in the budget he was not in favor of, saying he doesn’t believe Democratic leaders in Illinois are prioritizing small businesses.
“It is an embarrassment. It’s a slap in the face of these men and women who are trying to keep their doors open and keep people employed who still want to stay and remain in the state of Illinois,” said Durkin.
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June 2, 2021 at 11:47AM