Local General Assembly Members React to Pritzker’s State of the State Address

By Benjamin Cox on February 5, 2022 at 10:01am

State Senator Steve McClure was happy that Governor J.B. Pritzker mentioned giving more money for crime prevention in his annual State of the State address yesterday.

McClure says that the Governor’s proposal doesn’t go far enough: “I did like that crime was mentioned. However, the issue with crime has been not just throwing money at the problem, it’s been actually solving the issue and working with our side of aisle to get that done. One of the concerning things for me and members of our caucus has been the governor talked about witness intimidation. However, here’s the deal – while the governor says he’s going to give money for a program to help hide witnesses – that’s fantastic – but at the same time last year, in January at 4:30 in the morning, a bill was passed that takes away the ability of law enforcement to detain people in jail on pre-trial detention for the offense of witness intimidation. There is no greater message that is sent to scare witnesses than the moment after someone intimidates you that person is back on the streets in the neighborhood. That’s extremely troubling.”

McClure also hit on key points in the governor’s budget about federal relief dollars and new permanent spending for the state. McClure says he’s going to play the long game when it comes time to vote on the governor’s proposed budget: “It’s going to be very interesting to vote on the actual budget, and I’m going to have a long-term view when I vote on the budget. We have to address crime. It’s a crisis. Just speaking about it is not enough. The Democrats have to come to the table with Republicans to work on this issue. We’re ready to do it, but unfortunately, our side has been totally ignored. We are seeing the terrible results of that right now throughout our state.”

Pritzker’s budget includes increases for the Illinois State Police to graduate more state troopers, provide resources to the new forensic laboratory in Decatur, and for the purchases of more body cameras. Increases also are projected at the Department of Corrections for IT investments and staffing for medical needs, education, and re-entry programs. The budget also proposes $20 million to support a Gang Crime Witness Protection Program.

Another State Representative is blasting what she’s seeing as gimmicks in Governor J.B. Pritzker’s recent budget address.

93rd District Representative Norine Hammond says that the governor’s budget isn’t making any long-term structural changes to how the state spends its money: “I think it’s ironic that a year ago that the governor was calling for this Graduated Income Tax, and if it didn’t pass, there was going to be these draconian budgets going forward. Then, fast forward to [this week], the governor is saying that we now have a $1.7 billion surplus. If you actually pare down and look at the numbers, we can see that our spending is outpacing our revenue growth. That is something that we are going to have to deal with in the coming months and the coming years. You can say it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that we have federal ARPA funds, but that’s what’s getting us through right now.”

Pritzker says the state is in its best fiscal shape in years and is proposing some temporary tax relief for Illinoisans that include a temporary suspension on the state’s grocery tax, changing the state’s motor fuel tax, and temporary property tax relief.

Hammond says the $2.5 billion in new permanent spending that Pritzker is proposing will outpace the state’s revenues once federal American Rescue Plan money disappears. Hammond characterized the address as a “bailout budget” for the state.

Democrats have chided Republican reactions to the State of the State address, asking Republicans how the state did under former Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. They have tagged some of the pot-shots at Republican lawmakers with the Twitter Hashtag #spelunkingformisery.