On February 15, Governor JB Pritzker presented his combined State of the State and Budget Address before a joint session of the Illinois Senate and House. During the 55-minute speech, Governor Pritzker outlined a $49.6 billion General Fund spending plan for Fiscal Year 2024, which includes a new, permanent spending increase of nearly $3 billion, setting Illinois up for a major tax increase in the near future. At the conclusion of the address, State Senator Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) issued the following statement:
“The Governor remains out of touch with everyday Illinoisans who are struggling with inflation, energy increases, and outrageous taxes. My constituents are looking for relief, and rather than providing it, Gov Pritzker has proposed a budget that spends $3 billion on new programs which is on top of all of the new spending that has occurred over the last two years. What he has proposed will likely lead to a revenue/tax increase request in the future.
“The Majority Party refuses to accept that improvements to Illinois’ financial landscape are temporary and tied to the massive influx of federal dollars and higher-than-expected tax receipts due to record-high inflation. At a time when we need to control spending and prepare for the loss of these one-time revenues and a possible recession, the Governor is proposing permanent new spending again. It’s irresponsible and extremely shortsighted, and be assured all of this new spending will drive revenue/tax increase requests by this Democrat trifecta.
“The Governor certainly laid out some laudable goals, and while I may agree with universal pre-K, we have K-12 students today who cannot read, write, or do arithmetic at grade level. Before we allocate one dime to a new program, we need to streamline state spending, and address deficiencies in state programs like Education, DCFS, and Developmentally Disabled programs. While the Governor addressed some spending increases, he did not speak about any kind of accountability or performance metric to hold people accountable for deficiencies and outcomes for our students, our parents, and children. And the biggest continuing concern is that we fall $4 billion behind every year in our pension funding, because we refuse to fund at the actuarial-required amount.”