Pritzker Declares Balanced Budget, ‘Big Things’ Remain Priority Ahead of Second Term


Governor JB Pritzker fired up the crowd during Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair last year.

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Illinois Capitol News
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SPRINGFIELD — Inflation, crime, the pandemic response, abortion rights and Donald Trump are all expected to be major issues in the 2022 race for Illinois governor, if the evening speeches of the elections of the winning candidates are a guide.

“(Gov. JB) Pritzker doesn’t understand how soaring gas prices and food prices are making everyday life more difficult for Illinois families like you and me,” said Darren Bailey. , the Republican gubernatorial candidate, in an election night victory speech.

A farmer and state senator from southern Xenia state who recognized at the Chicago Sun-Times this week that he is a millionaire, Bailey received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump and won an election night victory with 57% of the vote, compared to about 15% for each of the two closest contestants.

“He doesn’t understand how his and Joe Biden’s extreme national agenda is helping to fuel inflation and drive up utility bills for families like us across Illinois,” Bailey added of the governor. “He doesn’t understand the damage his lockdowns have done to small businesses, schools, mental health, and working families across this state. He doesn’t understand that his war on the police has fueled the war on our streets, making our neighborhoods unsafe across this state.

Bailey also said in his speech that he entered politics because he was unhappy with votes from his local representatives to end a historic two-year budget stalemate in 2017 by raising the tax rate to 4.95. %, a level slightly lower than when the impasse began two years ago.

The income tax vote was part of the budget package that saw Democrats and Republicans come together to override former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto.

Pritzker, meanwhile, considers it part of his first-term legacy that Illinois left stalemate politics behind and made progress in balancing the budget each year and paying down old debt.

The governor sat down for an interview with Capitol News Illinois on Thursday amid a two-day blitz in which he spoke to political reporters from across the state.

He said fiscal prudence — along with the pandemic-era revenue spikes that have been seen nationwide for many reasons — allowed him and lawmakers to pass $1.8 billion. dollars of tax relief this fiscal year, some of which took effect on July 1.

It included a one-year suspension of the 1% food tax, a six-month deferral of a 2-cent motor fuel tax hike, a 10-day partial sales tax waiver on back-to-school items from August 5-14. , a permanent expansion of the earned income tax credit, an additional $300 property tax credit, and direct payments to Illinois at $50 per person and $100 per dependent child.

“These are all things that we Democrats have done and been able to do because Democrats balanced the budget, Democrats cleared the backlog of bills, Democrats got the appropriation increases for the state “, he said, referring to the double upgrades the state has received from the three New York bond rating agencies over the past year.

“You can’t do any of these tax relief items if you don’t have the money to do it,” he added. “And we had surpluses and what did we do? We have provided relief to the working family. And we will seek to do so in the future. I might add that if you continue on the path that the Democrats have charted, that I charted, of balancing budgets and having surpluses, we can do a lot more.

He said he hopes to continue balancing the books even though the state expects revenue to slow as pandemic-induced spikes normalize.

Pritzker touted the state’s use of windfall revenues for one-time purposes, such as putting $1 billion into the fiscal stabilization fund, funding pensions $500 million above what is required by law and reimbursement of old health insurance bills amounting to approximately $900 million.

He also noted that the state has, under his leadership, increased investments in Illinois State Police, crime labs, highway cameras, and community violence intervention programs. youth.

The term holder who unseated Rauner with a 16-point victory in 2018 also opened up about his spending in the Republican primary in recent months.

As he spent money through his own campaign committee, the Illinois Democratic Party and the Democratic Governors Association to hit Bailey’s main arch-rival, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, he downplayed the role his money played in this election.

Irvin’s camp pegged the combined spending of those entities in the GOP primary at about $36 million.

“My message is a general election message against all Republicans,” he said. “You know, we had messages about the candidate talking about corruption in Illinois, while he himself was involved in corruption. We’ve had messages about the candidate who is truly extreme in every way, including choice. And, you know, we’re fighting Republicans, it’s about Democrats beating Republicans.

In the coming days, Pritzker said he would call lawmakers back to Springfield for a special session to ensure abortion rights, which could include increasing the number of medical professionals who can perform abortions. That won’t include state assistance for people traveling to Illinois to get abortions, he said.

In terms of the program for the second term, Pritzker said that continuing the tax practices of his first term, as well as increasing subsidies for education and child care are among his priorities.

“But I think looking back at my first term gives you an idea that we’re going to do more big things, and it’s going to be about lifting up working families,” he said.

You can listen to the full episode of Capitol Cast here.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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