State pundits are questioning Governor J.B. Pritzker on using his office to promote a ballot measure he is in favor of signing. Last week, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget released a 5 year plan for the state forecasting its finances. In the report, the office said that the state would face long-term financial hardship, cuts to crucial services, and increasing debt if the graduated income tax was not instituted. The governor’s “Fair Tax” Plan passed both chambers of the General Assembly in May and will head to voters during next year’s General Election in November.
State law defines that a question of public policy cannot be promoted on state funding and state funding cannot be used to research, promote, or serve in a question of public policy. According to an article by reporter Rich Miller in the Chicago Sun-Times this week, local school boards also face lawsuits and trouble when using tax money to support property tax referendums on ballots. The governor’s office has said that the report is within the law.
Local Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer says its simply business as usual with politicians in the state making false promises. “Because of actions taken at the federal level on taxes, Illinois brought in an additional $1.4 billion for last fiscal year. At the same time, our unpaid bills went down about $4.5 billion at one point. They are going back up to $5.5 billion now, which means people in Springfield need to stop making new promises. They make new promises every year. Politicians use these promises to pay off their voters to say ‘Look what we are doing for you’ when, at the end of the day, everyone is going to have to pay for it. Politicians need to stop doing things to their constituents and actually doing something for them.”
Miller said that House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Chief Ethics Officer Justin Cox sent out an official memo on Monday reminding lawmakers that State Officials and employees cannot use government funds to promote a constitutional amendment issue. Cox said that officials are only allowed to speak on their vote on the issue and why they voted the way they did and to provide objective information about the language of the amendment and what it is supposed to do for the state. Pritzker’s office says that the GOMB report was doing the latter in the instance of the 5 year report and thus falls in line with the law.