Pritzker doesn’t expect to close $4 billion budget hole during lame-duck legislative session

Pritzker doesn’t expect to close $4 billion budget hole during lame-duck legislative session

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that it could be difficult to address the state’s out-of-balance budget during the short lame-duck legislative session that starts Friday to wrap up the 101st General Assembly.

 

Whether there’s the urgency to deal with the $4 billion shortfall depends on who you ask.

 

State lawmakers prepare for the lame-duck session beginning Friday. It’s the first time they’ll be back in the state capital since they passed the Fiscal Year 2021 budget back in May. That $42 billion budget is the state’s largest spending plan and was reliant on the progressive income tax voters rejected. It also relied on federal grants that never materialized.

 

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said thanks to last month’s federal stimulus bill, there may be some cushion to get to the next General Assembly that begins work Jan. 13.

 

“There’s things in the CARES Act that was just passed that may not be sort of quote-unquote a direct aid package to the states, but we’re going to get funding for education, we’re going to get funding for testing, we’re going to get funding for higher ed,” Zalewski said. “Those are all silos of the budget that we traditionally work with.”

 

Zalewski also said the governor’s announced $711 million in cuts will help bridge to the new legislature.

 

“I think the governor’s proposed cuts are a good first step,” he said.

 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month revealed $711 million in cuts included $75 million from personnel “cost adjustments” and furlough days.

 

Asked for an update on those furloughs and personnel cost adjustments Wednesday, Pritzker said: “nothing to announce yet.”

 

He went on to say it’s unlikely the budget hole will be addressed in the upcoming session.

 

“Lame duck is relatively short so it’s difficult to do everything that we need to do to close the budget hole,” Pritzker said. “We have not heard from the Republicans after their demanding that there be cuts what their cuts proposal is.”

 

Pritzker had previously said he will need the legislature’s help to address the budget, but never called for a special session to address the issue.

 

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said he’s told the governor repeatedly to own the budget mess Democrats passed without Republican support.

 

“I asked Gov. Pritzker at one point to provide a list of the cuts that he had stated that he had directed his state agencies to do back in 2019, the 6.5 percent cuts … and still to this day we have not heard from him.”

 

Durkin said alongside cuts the state needs to also address pensions that continue to crowd out tax dollars. Pritzker said Wednesday he hoped the federal government under President  Biden’s administration will give direct payments to Illinois.

 

State Rep. Tom Demmer said budget hearings are needed immediately.

 

“This is no longer a situation where one person can govern,” Demmer said. “We need to work on this together and the way to do that is by convening appropriations committees and to hear directly from the people responsible for this.”

 

The budget year ends on June 30. The new General Assembly will be seated on Jan. 13.

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