SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker and Democrat legislative leaders have once again chosen big government over permanent tax relief for Illinoisans, forcing through in the early-morning hours of April 9 an election-year budget that increases state spending by more than $3 billion but only provides minimal and temporary tax relief for families.
State Senator Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) says Republican legislative leaders have for months offered plans that would have provided more permanent tax relief for taxpayers, not just temporary election-year tax relief gimmicks; however, Democrats budgeteers did not include any of those ideas in their $46.5 billion spending plan.
“The Governor and Democrat leaders seem to be sticking to their election-year playbook. Illinoisans would be better served if the budgeteers set aside their attitude of ‘we know best how to spend your money’ and instead asked their constituents what they need,” Senator Stewart said. “Give their communities the choice of bigger government or more tax relief. I think the Majority Leaders would be very surprised at their responses.”
Senator Stewart says the bungled handling of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund is another example of Democrat leaders’ fiscal carelessness. Majority Party legislators shirked their fiscal responsibilities by not fully paying Illinois’ $4.5 billion UI trust fund deficit, made worse by fraud and mismanagement at the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Late in March, they approved a partial payment of $2.7 billion, leaving a $1.8 billion debt. Instead of using the once-in-a-lifetime flood of federal funds to fix the state’s UI deficit, Democrat leaders spent it on pork projects in their own districts.
Senator Stewart says Senate Republican attempts at working with budgeteers have been repeatedly rebuffed, but they will continue their efforts to work with Democrat leaders to pass a balanced budget with the business and government reforms needed to boost Illinois’ economy and jobs.
“They need to put aside their go-it-alone approach to budgeting. They need to see the hard decisions that taxpayers make every day instead of assuming a one-size-fits-all approach to the state budget. And all lawmakers must have a seat at the negotiating table as those decisions are being made,” Senator Stewart said. “Many times, during Spring Session, we presented our ideas to better serve residents. We happen to think more taxpayers’ money should stay in their pockets, instead of being readily available for bigger government.”
Fiscal Year 2023 runs from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.