Governor J.B. Pritzker is calling for deep cuts in the state’s spending. Pritzker announced that his cabinet is looking at cutting 5% from each department in the state unless the federal government is able to come up with an aid package for state governments impacted by COVID-19 “Each of our cabinet members are identifying 5% cuts across all the agencies that they control, right now. They are identifying those [cuts] and will need to implement those if there is no action taken by the Congress. If the Congress does take action, that’s what I have asked for today.”
Pritzker used public safety as an example of a loss of services, saying that local and state police and fire departments won’t be able to maintain their workforce for the public if the cuts happen. He says that the budget situation will affect hundreds of jobs: “When you include all of the cities and counties that are effected by this, we are literally talking about thousands of people who will get laid off. I can’t tell you what the exact number would be. Certainly this starts many cities, counties, and even the state looking at furloughs. You don’t want to permanently have to lay people off, right? You start with furloughs, and then look at the deeper cuts that come with that. 5% is not a small number.”
Pritzker said that he hopes a deal can be struck in Congress by the end of the month before the session heads to recess until the November General Election. Pritzker offered no timeline but has asked for his cabinet to prepare for the cuts to happen during the current fiscal year.
Pritzker said the recent stimulus bill blocked by Senate Democrats and Republican Rand Paul last Thursday leaves a murky time ahead for any relief supported by Congress. Pritzker says a relief bill championed by President Donald Trump could be a major win heading into the election: “[The Senate Republicans] put this skinny CARES Act bill in the Senate up [for a vote]. It didn’t have enough votes to avoid a filibuster, because, frankly, it’s not a robust enough bill. It does not take care of state and local funding. That is vitally important. States like Florida have more than $5 billion of a hole in their budget. Texas has said their hole is a historic deficit, and those are 2 Republican-controlled states. It’s true all across the nation. This is a problem affecting everybody. It’s clear that the president hasn’t wanted to move forward on this for some reason. From my perspective, this would be good for him if he moved forward on this project.”
Pritzker announced the cuts as part of his presentation in Chicago’s Bronzeville community about the second round of Business Interruption Grants are being made available with $245 million of the state’s CARES Act money to help small businesses continue to try and stay afloat during the pandemic.