Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Democratic leaders announce state budget deal

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (left to right), Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris Welch” laugh at a bill-signing ceremony in January.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Five days after blowing a self-imposed deadline to pass a state budget, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday have reached a deal.

Pritzker, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch plan to discuss details of the budget framework during a Wednesday afternoon news conference in Springfield.

Democratic leaders said they wanted a more seamless budget plan this year — one in which the Senate would not introduce the measure until it is fully agreed upon with the House. Typically there are amendments — and disagreements — during the process as legislative caucuses try to ensure the framework includes their needs.

Last week’s Friday deadline was artificial, not required by any state law or legislative rules. But stretching it much beyond that would show that Democrats, even with a supermajority in both chambers, couldn’t get their act together. On May 31, bills effective immediately require a three-fifths majority. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Health care for undocumented immigrants was among the sticking points during budget negotiations. Democrats were weary of setting a number — and of taking the political responsibility for the budgetary ask. The cost to the state for health care coverage for undocumented people could cost more than $1 billion. But there has been contention over whether that figure is inflated.

Another issue Democrats considered in budget talks was a potential drop in sales and income tax revenues, post-pandemic. But Pritzker’s administration has said their budget plan, revealed in February, took that into account.

Pritzker’s $49.6 billion spending plan provided a major boost to education funding in the state — including a $250 million investment in early education and a $506 million increase in K-12 funding. Education, human services, pensions and health care would receive a large majority of the $49.6 billion spending proposal — as the state projected a general revenue forecast of $49.94 billion, a 2.8% decrease from revised estimates.

For their part, Republicans, who are in the superminority in both chambers, have said they had zero say in negotiating this year’s budget. Republicans largely want no new spending, and reductions in the estate tax, among other priorities.

With the budget bills filed on Wednesday, lawmakers have set in motion a plan that could see a budget passed by Friday — barring any major blowups.

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via Chicago Sun-Times – All

May 24, 2023 at 02:27PM

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