SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — In his second budget proposal, Governor JB Pritzker wants to increase spending on state services if voters approve changes to Illinois’ tax structure.
The second-year budget is balanced but relies on uncertain revenue.
“Our choices remain hard, our financial situation challenging,” Pritzker said.
The budget includes $42 billion in spending, but the state is only projected to bring in $40.6 billion in revenue. The money to close the gap would come from Governor Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax that voters are being asked to approve in November.
In the meantime, Pritzker is putting money in reserve, including a mandatory boost to K-12 education funding.
“To address the uncertainty in our revenues, this budget responsibly holds roughly $1.4 billion in reserve until we know the outcome in November,” Pritzker said.
Republicans slammed Pritzker’s approach.
“Counting on a tax rate increase that is not yet approved by the voters is a mistake,” said Senate GOP leader Bill Brady.
The governor’s office estimates the graduated income tax would generate $3.6 billion. The billionaire governor is spending part of his fortune to fund a committee supporting the new tax structure.
On the other side, conservative groups are raising money to fight the measure.
After the address, Rod Blagojevich was on the minds of officials.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza served in the House when the governor was impeached.
“The most disappointing thing for me is that he has yet to acknowledge any wrongdoing,” Mendoza said. “It’s just a shame. I mean, I don’t think that eight years taught him a lesson. He learned nothing from that experience except to dig in his heels and say it wasn’t him.”
Republican State Senator Jim Oberweis has a different view.
I think what he did was horrendous, but he served 9 years. Does it really matter that he served 9 years or 14 years? To me I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Oberweis said. “The good news is we’re opening up a cell for some of state senator and state representatives who are headed to prison because of what they’ve done.”
Senator Oberweis said that’s a joke and a reference to the ongoing public corruption investigation in Illinois.
A full transcript of Gov. Pritzker's budget address can be read here.