Governor J.B. Pritzker presented his budget address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly during the noon hour today.
In his second budget address in his time as Governor, Pritzker proposed a $40.7 billion state budget, while touting the prospect of a 41.4 billion revenue increase should voters approve his graduated income tax plan at the ballot box this fall.
Pritzker said that the graduated tax is what Illinois needs to get back on the road to a secure fiscal outlook.
“If the graduated tax rates do take effect, this budget proposal takes major steps to stabilize our fiscal condition and build on the historic investments and improvements that we have made across the board, to better serve the people of our state.
Pritzker called for increased spending in key areas such as a $350 million increase in K-12 education. However his plan proposes that $150 million of that funding would be held in reserve to be used next year in the event the graduated tax is passed.
If voters approve the new tax structure, it is expected to generate approximately $1.4 billion in new revenue for the next budget year. House GOP Leader Jim Durkin says he is opposed to the change and that taxpayers in the state do not need to be paying more.
“Illinois voters need to know that we are doing well. State finances are in a better position than they have been in a very long time. We don’t have to come back to you and ask for a tax increase, we can get the job done without it.”
Pritzker says that under the proposed graduated tax, 97% of Illinois will pay the same or lower in income taxes than under the current flat tax system.
Pritzker proposed increased spending that was not to be included in reserve for a $147 million boost in funding to the Department of child and Family Services after a trying year for the agency following an Inspector General’s Report in January indicated that 123 children who died in the state last year had been in contact with DCFS, according to the Associated Press.
Republicans continued to call for more fiscal restraint following the Governor’s address. Rep Tom Demmer of Dixon says that the Governor asked his cabinet to outline ways to cut 6 1/2% from their budgets last fall, and that the the proposed budget today does not go far enough to cut spending. Demmer said that only a small portion was actually from reduction in operating budgets, and that it was a “far cry from the 6 1/2% that agency directors were asked to identify.”