Statement on Governor JB Pritzker’s Budget Proposal

Chicago, IL – Yesterday, Governor JB Pritzker gave a State of the State address and presented his budget proposal to the Illinois General Assembly. This is the starting point of budget negotiations over the next few months with the state legislature. 

The Governor talked about the toll COVID-19 has taken on Illinoisans in every corner of the state and the administration’s herculean effort to save lives and livelihoods.

Confronted with a state budget deficit of over $3 billion, the Governor’s budget plan keeps spending for most essential public services level with last year’s budget. The social safety net is prioritized with moderate and targeted spending increases despite severe fiscal constraints.

The budget deficit is addressed in part by eliminating some corporate tax breaks, an increase in federal assistance, and better-than-expected state revenues. State spending for healthcare and human services remains mostly static, but there are increases to grant-based mental health and substance use services, to the Department of Public Health for the pandemic, and to the Department of Children and Family Services to address challenges in the child welfare system.

“We applaud the Governor for crafting a budget proposal that provides for some increased investment in human services during such trying times. However, Illinois residents, particularly in Black and Brown communities, need deep public investment in their communities now more than ever,” says Mark Ishaug, Thresholds CEO. “Illinoisans need a stronger foundation for affordable healthcare, mental health and substance use treatment, affordable housing, and improved community and economic investment in long-ignored neighborhoods.”

For decades, structural problems with Illinois’ tax system have resulted in revenues falling far short of the state’s spending needs for crucial public services. The events of the past year – from the pandemic to a reckoning for racial justice to economic devastation – have heightened the need for these services.

The Pritzker administration and General Assembly’s commitment to addressing systemic racism and health disparities was shown by passage of landmark criminal justice, education, and economic investment legislation in the January lame duck session.

“To make the increased investments all communities want and need, we need fiscal reform that adequately addresses the state’s structural deficit,” says Heather O’Donnell, Thresholds Senior VP of Public Policy and Advocacy.

We urge the Governor and the General Assembly to take bold steps to address Illinois’ structural deficit by finding the most progressive revenue solutions possible to increase state investment in the public services our communities need to thrive.

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