Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker again asks state’s congressional delegation for help
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*** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker again asks state’s congressional delegation for help

Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From the governor’s office…

Dear Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation:

As Congress continues its legislative deliberations this week, I write to once again urge all members of our Illinois Congressional delegation to come together in a bipartisan fashion to provide critical support to states and local governments facing disastrous budgetary consequences stemming from unanticipated revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we sincerely appreciate the financial support to respond to the direct impacts of the pandemic derived from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act and other Congressional action, there is unfinished business to address the effects of the virus. Forcing states and local governments to make massive budget cuts is harming our nation’s economic recovery and will have devastating consequences on businesses, schools, first responders, working families and everyday Illinoisans who are already suffering.

This is not just an Illinois problem — or a Florida problem or a Texas problem — nor is it just a red state or a blue state problem: According to estimates at Moody’s Analytics, state governments collectively will have budget shortfalls of $312 billion through the summer of 2022, growing to $500 billion when local governments are included. Illinois alone estimates general fund state revenue losses of over $6.5 billion over fiscal years 2020 and 2021 while facing increasing demands for many health care and human service programs. Making sure that government has the capacity to deliver basic services during these very challenging times for Illinois families is essential to our recovery, and at the core of what it means to come back in a strong fiscal position.

I have never pretended local and state governments don’t need new solutions. Indeed, I’ve worked to deliver them myself. In my first year as Governor, we reduced health care costs to Illinois taxpayers, paid down more than $1 billion of our bill backlog, and reduced taxes on 300,000 businesses. But I can also tell you that there’s a big difference between addressing inefficiencies and cutting vital services for the people we serve. This pandemic has severely reduced revenues to Illinois’ local and state governments, and bringing our budgets back into balance without federal help will mean carving billions of dollars from K-12 education, higher education, and public safety. It will mean slashing funding for our roads and bridges, our state parks, crime labs and anti-violence programs, childcare providers, clean water and clean air, and health care services. Literally millions of middle class, working class, and poor families in Illinois will have their lives further upended by a failure of support from the Congress and the President. And I want to again emphasize that this is not a blue state issue alone. Texas is facing its biggest budget shortfall in history, and Florida’s governor likened their budget situation to the Red Wedding scene in Game of Thrones. Similarly, cities and counties are facing massive service cuts that will have immediate effects on residents.

Faced with uncertainty over what direct support it might get from Congress — but with hope that a fraction of the trillions that went to supporting large corporations might come to states, counties and cities — the State of Illinois was forced to pass a fiscal year 2021 budget with zero general funds increases in early childhood, K-12 and higher education. We were able to provide minimal increases to health care and human services. However, this budget scenario is only affordable with nearly $5 billion in support from the federal government. Without such support, the state would have no choice but to cut funding across the board to bring the budget into balance. Setting aside mandatory payments and debt service, this could translate into cuts as much as 15% to all programs and services. This could possibly include over a billion dollars in cuts to PreK-12 schools alone, but also will lead to human services being decimated and thousands of layoffs in state and local government, colleges and universities, first responders, and among human service providers – potentially undoing many of the stimulus benefits that the federal government has worked hard to achieve. Based upon national estimates of Covid-related budget shortfalls for state and local governments, fiscal year 2022 is unlikely to look any better.

As this virus rages on, the fiscal challenges have spread just like the virus. What seemed to some like a problem only plaguing Chicago and Cook and the surrounding counties, now has severely impacted every area of our state. Positivity rates outside of Chicago have been rising at a quicker rate, and the virus’s deleterious effect on our people and our economy is still unknown. But we know that the federal, state and local governments cannot let our people or our economy down.

I do not want to overlook or understate how important the actions of Congress have been to date. Enhanced Medicaid program funding, increased unemployment benefits, and CARES dollars have been crucial to Illinois and its citizens during these unprecedented times. But just as there was massive assistance to the biggest businesses and corporations in America during this crisis – assistance that only the federal government has the power to offer – there must also be funding to replace COVID-related revenue losses for states, counties and cities that are on the front lines of helping working families and our most vulnerable residents.

I have spoken to the leaders of the Illinois General Assembly on multiple occasions about this issue, and together we stand ready to work with you on providing information and support for this undertaking. Many of you began your careers in state or local government, and I know you share my belief that state and local government provide essential front line services to citizens and power local economic activity in crucial ways. I implore you to assist all states and local governments, and especially your home state and your home counties and cities.

I thank you for your hard work and offer whatever assistance you may need as you finish your work for this congressional session.

JB Pritzker, Governor State of Illinois


*** UPDATE *** Sen. Richard Durbin…

The State of Illinois is not alone facing a serious revenue loss resulting from this pandemic. State and local governments around the country are being forced to slash budgets and cut jobs as they face record revenue losses and increased costs of fighting the virus. Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s refusal to pass a relief bill that includes desperately needed funding for state and local governments threatens the livelihoods of our teachers, EMTs, and firefighters. Will he ever feel the urgency to begin bipartisan negotiations on a bill that so many in Illinois and across the country desperately need?

* Congressional leadership

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released this statement following President Trump’s tweet calling on Republicans to “go for the much higher numbers” in the next COVID-19 relief package:

“We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package.

“We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation.

“By the end of the week, 200,000 Americans will have died from the coronavirus. The lives and livelihoods of the American people depend on Republicans abandoning their obsession with doing as little as possible while the coronavirus rages through our nation.”


  1. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:00 pm:

    Republicans and Trump own this. Democrats should be messaging off of it, especially in Illinois, where the ILGOP to a person does not support taxing the rich more and would slash the poorest, most vulnerable, public sector workforce, etc.

  2. - PANTHER - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:16 pm:

    IL problems not created by Trump and DC. We have created this mess on our own by the people we have elected at the State level. That includes both Parties. Tax whoever you want but quit acting like IL problems are made by a single party.

  3. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:19 pm:

    There are many people on the right side of the aisle that want to see these cuts be forced onto state government programs. As they say, starve the beast. This creates an opportunity for that ideology to manifest itself into something more destructive than usual. This is the crisis that Bruce Rauner tried to engineer, and for all of his efforts we are on worse footing to face the real crisis in front of us.

    The GOP likely wants to do nothing and then point to the Democrats and blame them as the crisis unfolds into a collapse of essential services and programs people rely on, and mass layoffs in the public sector as everything from K-12 education to snow plows, prison guards, and elevator inspectors get cut.

    Our would will be less safe. Our communities will struggle. Our households, the neighbors household, and others in our community will suffer significantly from this, and then the GOP will blame the crisis they caused on the Democrats hoping once more to harness bigotry into electoral success.

    Why hire half the poor to kill the other half when you can just con them into it?

    If there has not been sufficient evidence beforehand, failure to act on this issue is a Republican endorsement of the failure of our nation state and a failure of our Republic.

  4. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:20 pm:

    ===- PANTHER - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:16 pm:===

    Did you not read the post, or is that just today’s talking points?

    Or do you think Illinois created the COVID-19 pandemic?

  5. - MakePoliticsCoolAgain - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:21 pm:

    Anytime the GO can include a Game of Thrones reference in a press release is winning the day.

  6. - PANTHER - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:26 pm:

    Read the post. IL asking for money. Our rainy day fund has how much in it for bad times? Our State is in a mess financially based on the politicians we elected. Period. Response was to Grandson making one party “own this.”

  7. - Hamlet's Ghost - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    This - all day - this:

    But just as there was massive assistance to the biggest businesses and corporations in America during this crisis – assistance that only the federal government has the power to offer – there must also be funding to replace COVID-related revenue losses for states, counties and cities…

  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:34 pm:

    Welp… Gov. Pritzker is no Don Harmon.

  9. - Speculator - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:36 pm:

    Sure, Illinois did not cause the COVID-19 pandemic, but how many other states passed an FY21 budget without any major cuts? How many other States have neglected to pay into a rainy day fund for years on end?

    FWIW I agree States should receive additional aid, but more in line with $150bn in expenditure assistance they got through the CAREs Act, not the $1-2 trillion Congressional Democrats are demanding.

  10. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:41 pm:

    “Our State is in a mess financially based on the politicians we elected. Period.”

    Adding “period” to a statement that denies the obvious effects of a raging, deadly airborne pandemic and the inevitable economic consequences thereof doesn’t make that willfully ignorant statement any more compelling.

    – MrJM

  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:43 pm:

    To the post,

    This is a governor letting the members of congress grasp some important.

    Their home state is in crisis. Making it about “pensions” or “debt” is ignoring the stark reality of the lack of revenue the state lost.

    The loss of revenue… the state lost.

    The functions of state government, no matter anyone’s opinion on them, are necessary as the private sector can’t fill the needs the state provides, including regulatory oversight, as laying off food inspectors seems small, now imagine 6.5% of a budget where functions like those might not meet needed benchmarks.

    In a crisis it’s important to see, with honest eyes the real problem and the ramifications of that problem if not addressed.

    Let it fail isn’t governing, and thinking states should, or suggesting they even can… be bankrupt, that’s dishonest eyes looking for pain and agenda, like our former governor loved to passively hurt Illinois.

    It’s time for serious people to take serious this current crisis, and with honest eyes see what the numbers actually say.

  12. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:43 pm:

    = but how many other states passed an FY21 budget without any major cuts? How many other States have neglected to pay into a rainy day fund for years on end?=

    So, are you telling us YOU don’t know the answer?

    There is a belief in just about every state in the union (and I suspect the territories as well) that only their government is messed up and ineffective.

    We are not alone in our troubles. Rich posted some of the issues facing other states yesterday, you should go back and give that a read. The governor is not asking the federal government to solve our long term issues like the pension underfunding. He is asking for relief related to problems caused by the COVID crisis. Just like many others. If you don’t want the assistance and we get some, kindly remit payment back to the state for your pro rata share.

  13. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:48 pm:

    If you don’t ask the answer is always no. Red states are in dire situations too. The problem will be addressed, just not as quickly as all would like.

    Congress should vote to alter the way CARES Act funds can be spent as a meager first step.

  14. - LakeCo - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:51 pm:

    Panther - so you support defunding the police?

    Second Grandson of Man @ 1:00 pm, except I also hope that Democrats hammer this all day, every day in Florida, which is severely hurting from lost tourist revenue…

  15. - Simple Simon - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:06 pm:

    I agree States should receive additional aid, but more in line with $150bn ===

    50 states times 4 billion each is $200 billion. Chump change compared to the previous bills. I heard coal got almost as much.

  16. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    Something needs to be done by the national government to bail out all states. We have to stop with the hypocrisy now, attacking Illinois for its finances while deficit and debt explode under Trump and the GOP. Also, Illinois pays more than it takes in federal dollars compared to many red states. Let’s not go there and let’s instead work for federal money to states and locals.

  17. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:11 pm:

    As a taxpayer I can pay more to the Feds to cover the deficit or less to the State if the State can figure out how to sell a nontaxable or taxable set of Bonds to cover this shortfall. Pritzker should put on his big boy pants, examine the bond sale problems he has had, do a competent search for underwriters and sell bonds.
    He has already done everything possible with his snippy comments to burn his bridges with Congress so let’s just move on.

  18. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:11 pm:

    ===- Speculator - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 1:36 pm:===

    Cool, so, uh, can you identify where you want to hack almost 7 billion dollars of funding out of the State Budget?

    Please bear in mind that cutting the wrong thing can wind up losing federal funds, or wind up with the state being sued due to failing to meet the basic obligations it’s supposed to have under federal and state laws.

    Folks arguing against aid to the states should come up with something better than arguments from fallacy.

  19. - Vote - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:18 pm:

    Trump keeps bragging about how his strong response was to close the barn door after the horses got out(travel ban) but then did nothing to round them up (mitigate and wear mask) and the virus ran rampant and refused to tell people how serious it was and what to do to keep safe.
    Should have used DPA ramped up all PPE and medical equipment production which would have also spurred on economy and kept more businesses open while savings hundreds of thousands lives.

  20. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:24 pm:

    == done everything possible with his snippy comments to burn his bridges with Congress==

    lol, by this you mean that JB has the temerity to crticize trump, which hurt the feelings of conservatives in the senate so much that they can’t even get a bill passed out of their own chamber. “How dare you say those mean things to that nice mr. donald who we love so much.” Remind me again which political group is supposed to consist of snowflakes?

  21. - City Zen - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    ==Illinois pays more than it takes in federal dollars compared to many red states==

    Funny, I thought I paid federal taxes, not Illinois.

  22. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:36 pm:

    Next time ask Harmon for help with the letter

  23. - Pundent - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:36 pm:

    =how many other states passed an FY21 budget without any major cuts? How many other States have neglected to pay into a rainy day fund for years on end?=

    You do realize that the U.S. was running historic deficits before Covid-19 hit. The only difference between the fiscal management at the federal level and state level is the ability to print money.

  24. - Amalia - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:37 pm:

    I do not underestimate the need and that it is right to get money from the Feds. but what was the plan to cut in the meantime? furloughs? the plan in Germany included government furloughs from the start. what about here? this may not be nearly enough money, but everyone contributes to the solution and keeps their job.

  25. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    === Funny===

    … my taxes I pay to the federal government are seemingly going to states where the same payer as me is getting more federal dollars for their state in return.

    Normally, it’s not much of a thought… until those same taker states whose payers are getting more dollars back tell me my state is selfish.

    It is funny when you think of it that way. Hysterical even.

  26. - Dr X - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    Theres no help coming from Washington for States or Cities the Democrats own this America isnt bailing these losers go bankrupt

  27. - Captain Obvious - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:53 pm:

    The problem is the definition of meeting halfway. The president offered more than halfway but in Pelosi speak, meeting halfway means give me everything I want or there will be no deal. Kind of like our former governor.

  28. - Lincoln Lad - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 2:54 pm:

    How about the federal taxes from California, New York, Illinois are retained within those states. Let’s see if Texas is able to cover the rest… Good luck!

  29. - Back to the Future - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    Not a big Trump fan. Both sides should stick to the issues and not try to “make points” at the expense of professional dialog.

  30. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    ===Theres no help coming from Washington for States or Cities the Democrats own this America isnt bailing these losers go bankrupt===

    Such a thoughtful, well constructed sentence.

  31. - pool boy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    Looks like you hit a nerve on this one. Let’s ask Oswego Willy to start a go fund me Illinois page. That should help.

  32. - Cheswick - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    I can’t help but notice that of the responses to the Pritzker letter, the Illinois GOP delegation AKA Trump delegation has apparently decided to remain mute.

  33. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    ===…go fund me Illinois page. That should help.===

    Couldn’t hurt.

  34. - Simple Simon - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    ===in Pelosi speak, meeting halfway means give me everything I want or there will be no deal===

    This does not represent the actual situation. The Dems started at 3T, the Rs countered with 1T. The Dems dropped to 2T then the Senate Rs dropped to $500B. Talk about losing trust in your negotiating partner. Or, more charitably, there was a lack of consensus on the Republican side.

  35. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    “Give to Giver States” GoFundMe page.

    Hopefully taker states will help the other states.

  36. - pool boy - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 3:47 pm:

    “Give to Giver States” GoFundMe page. I’m on board with that.

  37. - SSL - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 4:07 pm:

    Everyone knew that a recession was going to hurt Illinois badly. Rich posted often about the lack of a rainy day fund, and there has been a structural budget deficit in excess of $3B for awhile now. The global pandemic, if anything, gives JB some cover to do some things that have needed to be done for some time, but they are political dynamite so that probably won’t happen. So we’re left to grovel for help from the Feds, who will probably do something in the end, but not enough.

    The Illinois problem isn’t one party or the other. Nothing as screwed up as Illinois could have happened under just one party. It took a combined effort to get to where we are today.

  38. - Club J - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 4:30 pm:

    It’s sad. Really sad. We are in the middle of a world pandemic and frankly on a national level we’ve been lied to in many ways. Now after 100’s of thousands of people have died in the United States that we know of alone. We are going to start arguing about what States Red or Blue need financial help. Well frankly we all need help from the State level to the Township level. It’s not time to pick sides when people are dying day after day it’s just time for the federal government to step up and take care of its people. It’s not socialism it’s the right thing to do or people dying is not going to be the worse thing we witness. Ego and politics have to take a back seat at some point or we will just turn into a group of people that are so full of hate we’ll no longer see right from wrong.

  39. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 4:38 pm:

    “Theres no help coming from Washington for States or Cities the Democrats own this America isnt bailing these losers go bankrupt”

    If your kept the receipt, you may be able to get a refund on your education.

    – MrJM

  40. - former southerner - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 6:04 pm:

    “If your kept the receipt, you may be able to get a refund on your education.”

    Unfortunately for that grammatically and cognitively challenged poster, Trump U was shut down and won’t be issuing any refunds…

  41. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 6:52 pm:

    Yesterday, someone was yammerin about lack of tourism dollars. Somebody else said we were going to do a $25 million social unrest repair grant. Three weeks ago the Blue Dog family cancelled a $30k baptism weekend at the magnificent mile. Do ya really think this shortfall is all Covid related.

  42. - Colin robinson - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 7:29 pm:

    How real is the state worker lay-off threat?

  43. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 7:49 pm:

    It seems like a no brainer. Every Congressional Illinois candidate should be campaigning on the slogan’ we need $5 billion to pay bills’. Not that complicated.

  44. - Huh? - Wednesday, Sep 16, 20 @ 9:31 pm:

    “How real is the state worker lay-off threat?”

    Depends on the agency and if it is paided out the general fund.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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