Governor J.B. Pritzker delivers his budget address Wednesday, renewing the conversation about Illinois’ dire fiscal situation.
The state has a $4.9 billion unpaid bill backlog on top of $4.3 billion in short-term debt and $141 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Despite all this, the governor’s office says his 2022 budget will hold spending flat and not include tax increases.
The budget will also close $900 million in unspecified corporate tax loopholes. Republicans call this a tax hike, however.
“What the Democrats call loopholes, we look at those as tax increases but we also believe that that is a disincentive for businesses to remain in Illinois, to grow and to keep employees employed and to bring in new people,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
The time has come to finally face the fallout from the defeat of the graduated income tax. Before voters rejected it last November, the Pritzker administration warned that Illinois would have to raise income taxes without it.
But that’s not what the governor will propose this week.
In a statement, the governor’s press secretary said: “Republicans fought against the fair tax to protect millionaires and billionaires from paying their fair share and took the best option to balance the state’s budget off the table. The Governor has presented more than $700 million in budget cuts, yet Republicans have offered no solutions to the fiscal challenges facing the state…”
Durkin says it’s not his job to present a budget, however.
“I would like for the governor to be able to talk about exactly the problems that the state is in, how we got there and what we have to do to fix it but we can’t go back to the taxpayers,” he said.
The governor also identified $700 million in budget cuts: Health and Human Services, Public Safety Economic Development and Government Services. Yet some Republicans who continue to say the legislature must play a bigger role feels its not enough.
“Last year’s budget because of COVID and because of many of the changes that happened in our legislative schedule had remarkable little legislature oversight or input from legislators,” said State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon). “Instead, it delegated unprecedented amounts of authority to the governor to govern through executive orders, emergency rules and almost a blank check in appropriate authority.”
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