Today Governor Pritzker delivered his first Budget Address laying out his priorities for state spending over the next fiscal year. Included in his budget address are billions of dollars of taxes increases and delaying over $800 million in required pension payments. Pritzker also used his Budget Address to push for legalization of recreational marijuana, expanded gambling, and a constitutional amendment to move Illinois to a graduated income tax system. Assistant House Minority Leader Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) issued the following statement in response:
“I am very disappointed in Governor Pritzker’s first budget address. His budget proposal is unfortunately more of the same: more spending, higher taxes, and new debt. To make matters worse, Pritzker has proposed issuing new pension debt and delaying payments to our state’s pension systems. That could jeopardize the retirement of thousands of teachers, state workers, and other public employees. With a $3.2 billion budget deficit and over $15 billion in unpaid bills, Illinois taxpayers cannot afford new programs.
It is up to the legislature to work together to pass a balanced budget that makes our full pension payment, responsibly prioritizes our spending, and protects taxpayers. I am committed to working to pass a truly balanced budget, but we must reject the political posturing, rising spending, and continual push for tax increases.”
Pritzker delivered the roughly 45 minute speech before a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate. The focus was on keeping campaign promises rather than tackling the major challenges our state faces. His budget proposal relies heavily on major progressive policy changes to bring in new tax money and on pushing back pension payments. The biggest push for taxation came with his call for a graduated income tax that will add to the total tax burden of this state and will not be possible unless the public votes to pass it as a constitutional amendment during the 2020 general election – meaning that promised spending from those new tax dollars cannot be realized until after the 2020 election.