After Pritzker’s budget address, lawmakers and others react with own spending agendas

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker spoke out against “demagogues who are pushing censorship” in schools during his State of the State and budget address in the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. His comments drew a standing ovation from Democrats and silence from Republicans.

Even factoring in the possibility of a “mild recession” this year, the proposed budget Gov. JB Pritzker laid out on Wednesday includes nearly $50 billion in state spending, bolstered by projections of continued near record-high tax revenues.

Without invoking partisan labels in his annual address to lawmakers, the governor painted Democrats as the party of fiscal responsibility, contrasting the dysfunction of a two-year budget impasse under his predecessor, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, with the rosy budget outlook predicted for the coming year.

“You, the majority of the General Assembly, are succeeding,” Pritzker said Wednesday, speaking to the Democratic lawmakers who comprise supermajorities in both the Illinois House and Senate. “You, the majority of the people of Illinois who elected the General Assembly, the constitutional officers, and me, are succeeding. Together, we’ve slogged through the tough times and are making the responsible decisions for our future.”

But as Illinois’ recent history indicates, state government controlled by one party doesn’t mean negotiations are easy. And with an expanded Democratic majority in the House – 78 members, up from 73 after November’s election – intra-party disagreements on state budget priorities could be a test of Democratic unity this spring.

Reaction to Pritzker’s $49.6 billion plan ranged from applause to skepticism about the state’s ability to afford new spending. Here’s a sampling:

Illinois Action for Children chief executive April Janney

“We applaud Governor Pritzker’s continuous efforts to make Illinois the best state to raise a family. During today’s budget address, the governor pledged to make an historic investment to benefit Illinois’ children, families, and the childcare and early education workforce for decades to come.  

His proposed Smart Start Illinois initiative ensures access to high-quality child care, preschool, early intervention, and home visiting services that will help Illinois’ youngest children learn, grow, and thrive as they prepare for kindergarten and beyond.”  

Illinois Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza

Susana Mendoza

“My hope was that Governor Pritzker would propose a balanced budget that shores up our Rainy Day Fund and the Pension Stabilization Fund; that avoids any major commitments for new programs and instead uses revenue surpluses on existing programs that have proven a good return on investment for Illinois taxpayers – programs like early childhood education and MAP grants for Illinois college students. His proposed budget does all that.

“Instead of new programs, I see careful, strategic, and necessary investments in childcare and pre-school programs where they are most needed. Notably, it includes a continuation of shoring up our Rainy Day Fund and another $200 million for the Pension Stabilization Fund. I will aggressively push for my Rainy Day Bill, HB2515, to make deposits into the Rainy Day Fund and the Pension Stabilization Fund an ongoing commitment. I was pleased the governor proposed an additional $100 million in MAP grant funding to make college more affordable to our bright minds who can’t afford college today. This will safeguard our current investment of billions of dollars in our kids from K-12, and keep them in Illinois for a fast return on this investment once they graduate with higher income potential. This budget was a good start, and I will continue calling for fiscal restraint and discipline as the budget process unfolds.”

More:Gov. Pritzker announces $49.6 billion budget proposal headlined by education spending

State Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield)

Senator Steve McClure

“The governor is proposing to increase spending, despite the fact that projected revenues are decreasing. This plan would spend us into a tax increase.

“Now, with federal funds drying up, we are facing an impending fiscal cliff. We need an honest, and open, discussion about spending with all sides at the table. Necessary funds to address the staffing crisis at DCFS, secure our prisons, and lower our state’s alarming recidivism rate are nowhere to be found.

“We need to do better about making sure funding is going where it is needed most and being spent in the best way possible.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea 

“Governor J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget is a win for working families in Illinois. It is a sound and fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of working families and prepares our workforce for an ever-changing economy.”

“Governor Pritzker is ensuring that Illinoisans across all sectors, zip codes and education levels can experience economic stability and security. There are commitments to fully fund our infrastructure, pay down the state’s pensions liabilities and significant investments to our early childhood education, apprenticeship programs and our health and human service workforce.”

“The Illinois AFL-CIO looks forward to continuing to work with Governor Pritzker and calls on the General Assembly to pass a responsible budget that addresses the needs of working people.”

Illinois State Rep. Tom Weber (R-Fox Lake)

“I keep hearing the governor talk about new ways to spend money, but I don’t hear a long-term plan to ease the burden on Illinois taxpayers. Temporary relief isn’t enough. Instead, he wants to press ahead with creating new programs that will lock taxpayers into billions more in long-term government spending commitments.

“Billions of dollars in federal relief funds and unexpected revenue increases driven by massive inflation propped up his previous budgets and this proposal, but it won’t be that way forever. Without reform to state spending, which the governor isn’t proposing, his new plans put taxpayers at risk for tax hikes in the future. Our residents need a plan for long-term tax relief, not the risk of more tax increases.”

Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Chicago)

Newly re-elected House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch addresses the crowd of newly-seated lawmakers and their families at the inauguration of the House members of the 103rd General Assembly Wednesday at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

“The progress we have made as a state in just a few short years is truly remarkable. As we heard today in the governor’s budget address, our financial outlook is strong. It is because of that progress that we are in a position to consider priorities that aren’t just important to Democrats, but the majority of Illinoisans.

“It is paramount that we prioritize hardworking families and continue to make fiscally responsible decisions that put our state in a better position for generations to come. This proposal by Governor Pritzker proves that Democrats are united in those goals. This budget address is a great starting point for our legislative negotiations, and I look forward to building on our recent success. I am confident that Chief Budgeteer Jehan Gordon-Booth, Majority Leader Robyn Gabel, our budget negotiation team, and our appropriations chairs will produce a final product that Illinois can be proud of.”

Illinois State Senator Sally Turner (R-Beason)

“Over the past few years, Illinois has greatly benefited from a massive influx of federal dollars. However, the sad reality is that this revenue stream is quickly drying up and the nation faces a looming recession.

“The governor appears to be ignoring this harsh truth in his budget plan and has even proposed increasing our permanent spending by $3 billion. If we do as he asks, we are setting Illinoisans up for a major tax increase down the road.

“As the budget process unfolds over the next few months, I implore the Governor and the members of the majority party to reconsider this plan and focus on priorities that we can all agree on – priorities like funding child care and programs for Illinoisans with developmental disabilities.”

AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch

“Governor Pritzker’s FY 24 budget plan has the potential to move our state forward on a number of fronts that are vital to improving the lives of public service employees and strengthening the services they provide.

“Expanding access to child care and higher education will aid working people who are struggling to pay their bills and ensure the best future for their children.

“Equally important to tens of thousands of state government employees is the governor’s recognition of the urgency of addressing the severe understaffing in state agencies. There’s a critical shortage of employees on the front lines, with an estimated 8,000 positions funded but unfilled. As AFSCME members know better than anyone, that acute shortage makes it much harder to protect kids, care for seniors, help people with disabilities, ensure safe prisons and provide all the other public services our communities need.  

“Our union has offered many ideas to improve recruitment and called for eliminating bureaucratic barriers to hiring. We look forward to working together with the administration to solve this crisis and ensure that state employees have the tools and support they need to do the work of state government safely and well.”

Erion Malasi, policy and advocacy director for Economic Security for Illinois

“We were disappointed to learn that Governor Pritzker’s proposed budget fails to include a plan to create an Illinois Child Tax Credit. Governor Pritzker has built a reputation, and a record, as a champion for tax policies that benefit working families and middle-class Illinoisans. But we must do more to balance the scales on behalf of Illinois families. With costs of living rising and Congress failing to pass an expanded Child Tax Credit, we must enact policy solutions that put cash in the hands of those who need it most. A Child Tax Credit would do just that, moving us toward an inclusive, equitable, and family-friendly tax system, and furthering the Governor’s stated goal to “make our state the best place in the nation to raise young children.”

We now turn to the Illinois General Assembly to meet the urgent needs of Illinois families. The General Assembly provided a tax credit for working families during last year’s legislative session, and can once again lower the tax burden on middle-class and working families while ushering in a more equitable future for all Illinoisans. The time to create an Illinois Child Tax Credit is now.”

State Rep. Wayne Rosenthal (R-Litchfield)

Wayne Rosenthal

“Year after year, Gov. Pritzker has proposed budgets with new spending. One-time federal relief funds are drying up, and extra revenue from inflation won’t be here forever. Despite this, he wants to lock taxpayers into paying nearly $3 billion more in long-term spending for new programs he wants to create. The only way to pay for his new pet projects will be tax hikes that families can’t afford. At a time when family budgets are strapped with increased prices, we shouldn’t be looking at adding to their burden down the road.”

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias

“I applaud Governor Pritzker for laying out a budget plan that is committed to serving all Illinoisansespecially children, vulnerable populations and the hard-working men and women of organized labor.The Governor’s foresight and commitment to modernization will empower state employees whileimproving the delivery of services. As Secretary of State. I share this vision. Employing newtechnology to improve the lives of Illinoisans and eliminating the “Time Tax” is my top priority.”

Capitol News Illinois contributed.

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February 16, 2023 at 09:18AM

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