* ABC 7…
The governor also promised no tax increases, though that’s not how Republicans see it.
“What the Democrats call as loopholes, we look at those as tax increases,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. “But we also believe that that is a disincentive for businesses to remain in Illinois to grow, and to keep employees employed, and to bring in new people.”
Republicans also called for greater transparency.
“Where department heads, agency directors come before the legislature to answer questions, provide information about their budgets,” said Deputy Minority Leader Tom Demmer.
The governor fired back, calling on Republicans to suggest their own budget solutions, setting up a potentially rocky spring legislative session that will have to navigate while still in the midst of a pandemic.
Considering the situation Illinois is in and the proximity to the next election, there will be no comity with Republicans this year no matter how great the budget proposal might be, and it won’t be great, by any means.
As I told subscribers last week, the real conflict the governor faces will be with members of his own party, most of whom will want more spending, not less.
Press conferences can make for great copy, but they don’t always reflect reality. And the reality is the House and Senate Republicans are in the super-minority. All they really have in their arsenal is media access.
* WGN TV…
The budget will also close $900 million in unspecified corporate tax loopholes. Republicans call this a tax hike, however.
“What the Democrats call loopholes, we look at those as tax increases but we also believe that that is a disincentive for businesses to remain in Illinois, to grow and to keep employees employed and to bring in new people,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
Keeping those tax breaks forces a choice between the good the tax breaks do versus the harm to the rest of the budget that keeping them causes. It’s spending by another word, even if may not be exactly dollar-for-dollar…
The Republicans said Pritzker apparently wants to eliminate corporate tax incentives to create jobs, which they said wouldn’t be a wise move in a pandemic-induced recession.
Deep spending cuts are also not a wise move during a recession.
* Dave Dahl…
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) says the Democrats’ budgeting practices are straight out of Fantasyland.
“Gov. Pritzker and his enablers from the House and Senate continue to budget at $42 billion,” Durkin told an online news conference. “With a snap of a finger, this budget becomes law; nevermind the global crisis.
“The Illinois Democrats cooked up a budget predicated on imaginary money that may or may not ever show up.”
No argument there at all.
* Mike Miletich…
Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) also noted that the administration said a tax increase was possible when the “Fair Tax” failed to get enough support from voters. Yet, the administration recently announced Pritzker’s budget proposal would not include a tax increase. The same press release indicated the budget would “strengthen” IDPH, DCFS, IDES, and other “vital services.”
“We have a credibility issue and a transparency issue,” Demmer said. “The administration needs to be more forthcoming with information for both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature. And if they’re not going to be forthcoming, we need to use the power of the legislature to demand those answers.”
His beef is with the House Speaker.
* The Tribune editorial board wants a crackdown on AFSCME…
For all of Pritzker’s use of unilateral executive orders and emergency rules, he can’t claim his hands are tied with AFSCME. He has options. He needs to apply them.
The board did not actually explain those options.
* Greg Hinz…
A second item worth watching is Pritzker’s upcoming new budget. Despite his decision not to raise the current flat income tax, there’s still a lot of budget detail we don’t know, notably whether Congress will come to the state’s aid with a big check from President Joe Biden’s pending $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. If Biden delivers, Pritzker will be able to breathe much easier. If not, some distasteful spending cuts and other revenue enhancers are on the way.
Of course, Pritzker could have avoided much of this nastiness if he’d acted like the bean-counting businessman he is and moved to slash overly rich state pensions, one way or another. But that, sadly, does not appear to be in the cards.
Which path to slashing benefits would that be?
One way or another, the budget will get done before the new fiscal year begins July 1, but probably not without the usual gimmicks that will make it looked balanced on paper.
No one should envy the challenge facing the governor. He’s got a tough job. Then again, he’s getting what he asked for — good and hard.
* From Jordan Abudayyeh…
Republicans fought against the fair tax to protect millionaires and billionaires from paying their fair share and took the best option to balance the state’s budget off the table. The Governor has presented more than $700 million in budget cuts, yet Republicans have offered no solutions to the fiscal challenges facing the state because, by their own admission today, Republicans don’t believe it is their responsibility to present their ideas to balance the budget. It’s going to take a lot more than empty rhetoric to rebuild the state’s economy after this devastating pandemic and the Governor welcomes Republicans to present their realistic ideas, so the state can balance the budget in a bipartisan fashion.
Their real job is to lob verbal grenades at this point. It’s not like they’ve been invited to the budget table as equals, after all.
The transparency and process arguments made by House Republicans are rooted in willful ignorance of the many ways the Governor’s Office communicates budget related matters to the General Assembly.
Attached is a breakdown of cuts that has been publicly available since December and below is the press release announcing the cuts.
An outline of federal dollars sent to Illinois and how they were spent is on pages 4-6. These reports were provided to the General Assembly’s Legislative Budget Oversight Committee:
After the budget was passed in May 2020, GOMB posted this document outlining how lawmakers appropriated the federal dollar in the budget:
The attachment is here.
* The Blue Collars Job Act in a pandemic: What it means for Illinois’ budget