Pritzker Defends Spending Expansion

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Governor JB Pritzker spent the first day after his budget address Thursday launching a road show to pitch his free preschool and childcare proposals with events in Springfield, East St. Louis, and Mt. Vernon.

Republicans have criticized the Governor for an estimated $3 billion in additional year-over-year spending that, with a potential recession looming, may force drastic cuts or a tax increase in the near future to continue to fund.

Speaking in East St. Louis, Pritzker was asked if the state has $3 billion to invest in new programs, why didn’t it have the money to cut taxes.

After pointing to the election year temporary tax rebates paid by the state in 2022, Pritzker said he’s going to look for ways to cut taxes, but wants to invest in education.

“We’ve underfunded our education system,” he said. “We’ve underfunded early childhood education. We’re trying to do things simultaneously as resources are made available. None of this can be done…if you don’t balance the budget, and make sure if you have surplus resources, allocate them properly. We’re seeing that as a stable level of revenue.”

Pritzker said the revenue estimate presented is dropped by around $1.5 billion from last year. (After two revisions upward, the current FY23 estimate is around $51.4 billion. The projected FY24 revenue is just under $50 billion.)

He was asked why the temporary gasoline and grocery tax cuts Democrats used to campaign on weren’t made permanent.

“Believe me, I want to make any tax cuts that we could propose permanent I would like to lower everybody’s taxes,” he said. “We’re getting to where we want to be in Illinois again. I want us to make sure we’re investing in the right things, and I have to say investing in early childhood [education] is absolutely the best place to do it.”

Pritzker didn’t dispute the additional $3 billion in spending, but said he expects state revenues to remain strong enough to afford the plan, even if the economy dips into recession.

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February 17, 2023 at 07:14PM

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