SPRINGFIELD, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker is touting Illinois’ $42.3 billion state budget as a responsible spending plan that is balanced and pays down the state’s debts, but some beg to differ.
During a news conference Thursday, the governor said Illinois is making a major comeback and doing so with a level of fiscal prudence not seen in our state for two decades.
The Fiscal Year 2022 budget is a responsible balance, addressing the pain of the pandemic while investing in a thriving future for the people of Illinois,” Pritzker said.
According to Illinois Policy, a closer examination shows at least a $482 million hole, which the nonprofit says makes this the 21st year in a row the state failed to balance its budget. Illinois Policy said that the budget also contains a $655 million tax hike and a nearly $1,200 raise for each lawmaker.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris said with this budget lawmakers are bringing back fiscal stability.
“It has done so by closing some corporate tax loopholes so that now some of the largest businesses in the country are helping pay their fair share to educate our kids, to make our communities safe and to invest in our families,” Harris said.
Brad Tietz, vice president of government relations with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said eliminating those tax incentives will make it more difficult for businesses to rebound from the pandemic.
“The recovery has been looking good but still, we are not out of the woods yet,” Tietz said. “We have to make it easier and not harder for businesses to reopen.”
The budget plan, revealed on the final scheduled day of the legislature’s spring session uses just a portion of the more $8 billion Illinois expects to receive in COVID-19 relief money from the federal government.
Illinois Policy said what is missing from the budget are fiscal reforms. Without them, lawmakers are unable to stabilize the country’s worst pension crisis, as high as $317 billion by one estimate.
Illinois borrowed $5 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits for those the pandemic displaced.
The Unemployment Insurance Trust fund continues to be around $5 billion in the red, and if that is not addressed by the end of summer, the state could be on the hook for interest on the debt.