SPRINGFIELD – Following the Governor’s annual Budget Address to a joint Session of Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday, State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) says Governor Pritzker’s promises to increase spending rely mainly on the passage of his plan to raise income taxes.
“The Governor gave a polished, upbeat speech, like he always does,” Rep. Bryant said. “I don’t have a problem with optimism, but I believe you have to be realistic. The reality is that Illinois is still in a tough fiscal spot, despite the progress that has been made to pass balanced budgets.
“The Governor proposed $2 billion in new spending that mainly relies on the passage of the income tax increase proposal that will be on the ballot in November 2020,” Bryant said. “That issue is ultimately for the voters to decide. What is not up for debate is the fact that Illinoisans are already the highest taxed citizens in the country and families and businesses are packing up and moving to other places in record numbers.”
The Governor seemed to take credit for the fact that Illinois’ unemployment rate being the lowest in its history. Bryant says the governor failed to give proper credit for the flashy statistic.
“Illinois is only doing better because of the economy that’s been created by President Trump,” Bryant said. “Hopefully no one is fooled into believing that raising taxes and increasing government spending on new programs will be a net benefit to the overall economy. He spent a lot of time attacking President Trump on social issues, but failed to give the President proper credit for the roaring national economy.”
Bryant says she was encouraged to hear the governor offer ideas to help end the teacher shortage for public schools, reduce the cost of higher education for Illinois college students, and propose an increase in the budget for the Department of Children and Family Services in the wake of 123 children dying last year after being in contact with DCFS.
“The Governor is right that DCFS needs more resources, and I believe he wants to do what is right at DCFS. So do I,” Bryant said. “His proposal to increase funding is laudable, but I will wait to see where he intends that increase to go. Illinois needs more caseworkers, we need to train the caseworkers better, and we need to take serious steps to retain good caseworkers. These steps and the proposals that I have backed as a legislator to reform DCFS will go a long way to bringing about better results for vulnerable children. One child dying is a tragedy, 123 children dying after being in contact with DCFS is an inexcusable crisis that needs immediate attention.”
“Ultimately, the Budget Address is the Governor’s opportunity to present his wish list to the legislature,” Bryant said. “I am hopeful that as we move forward in the Session, a transparent, bipartisan process will take place that results in a responsible, balanced budget that invests in education, protects children, and honors our obligations.”