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Pritzker on federal money, next year, transit fiscal cliff, Mendoza, Crespo, pensions, historic preservation

Wednesday, Jun 5, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker was asked today after he signed the budget if the budget process next year will be more difficult

Mary Ann Ahern: There’s so many that say that this COVID money’s about gone… It didn’t seem like it was all that easy to get to this budget. Is it going to be way more difficult next year?

Pritzker: Well remember that the dollars that you’re referring to that came for COVID were dollars that were set aside for one time use, because we recognized that there was going to be an end to the support that was coming from the federal government as the virus was waning, right as we were getting past the pandemic. […]

And so the challenge of this budget had less to do with that than it had to do in fact, there really isn’t, the idea of the federal dollars were somehow bloating or you know, affecting the state budget. It’s true that there were people who received $1,400 checks, and they went out and spent it and there were sales tax dollars that came to every state as a result of that. But the reality is that, as you may have heard, by now, this budget that I just signed, increased spending only by 1.6%, in a world where there’s 3.2%, inflation. So just take note of that, for all the complaining that I’ve heard from people about what amounted mostly to sports betting company increase in tax on people who are already making hundreds of millions of dollars from Illinois. The reality is that this was a good budget. It did the right things toward fiscal responsibility and made the investments that we think are necessary.

Please pardon all transcription errors.

* Another question about next year

* Isabel Miller: Some moderate House Democrats have said you should have saved some of your revenue enhancement proposals for next fiscal year when times could be tougher [due] to federal assistance and the impending mass transit fiscal cliff. Why do you disagree?

Pritzker: Well, the mass transit fiscal cliff is absolutely something that should be discussed. It isn’t just a state issue, I might add, right, where the revenue will come from, where the expenditure cuts will come from. Those are not just state issues. And we will be addressing those. But we do need, as I have said before, we need the transit agencies to come forward. We need all the best ideas to come forward, you know, question about whether we should be combining the agencies and so on. So I think that’s a little bit of a separate question.

And then again, the complaints by people that, you know, that they felt like we should have handled the budget somehow differently or saved some of these ideas or whatever. Look, we are we have balanced the budget every year. We’ve heard complaints every year after we balanced the budget: ‘Next year is going to be terrible!’ You heard that in 2021. You heard that in 2022. You heard that in 2023. You’re hearing it in 2024. People say it every year and you know what we’ve done? Balanced the budget every single year.

* Background is here if you need it. Regarding Mendoza

Isabel: What do you make of Comptroller Mendoza’s comment that she would like to have seen across the board budget cuts during this budget?

Gov. Pritzker: Well, I want to remind all of you that across the board budget cuts, this idea is not an idea that Democrats believe in. This idea that you can just go across the board and cut 5 percent of the budget and not have a very deleterious effect on people all across the state.

I’m willing to talk with anybody about good ideas for how to tighten up our budget to make sure that we’re being efficient, and spending money well, and making cuts. Happy to talk about all that.

But you’ve got to have specific ideas. Because this idea that you’re going to cut across the board. What do you want to cut? You want to cut education by 5 percent? You want to cut health care across the board? What is it exactly that you want to cut?

So it’s easy to make these proclamations, usually Republicans make about across the board cuts.

* Background on this question is here if you need it

Isabel: Speaking of specifics, what do you think about Rep. Crespo’s proposal for a hiring freeze and 10 percent operation cuts?

Pritzker: Again, always happy to discuss these ideas. He did not bring those ideas to the governor’s office. Remember, I introduced the budget in February. If Rep. Crespo wanted to discuss that, I’m open for business anytime to sit down and discuss with him how we might have made changes in the budget. You didn’t raise those. It was something that just got thrown out at the very end. And once again, a lot of that are talking points that really I don’t share the idea with and I don’t think most Democrats agree with.

The governor undoubtedly knows that the budgeteer process doesn’t allow people like Rep. Crespo to pitch the governor about budget matters. Everything has to go through the budgeteers and the respective leaders. And Crespo told me today that he did present his ideas to his budgeteer.

Click here to see Rep. Crespo’s actual proposal.

* On to pensions

Amanda Vinicky: Can you speak about what happened with your pension proposal? That was part of the budget address. And you said your priorities all got passed, but that wasn’t part of it? What went on?

Pritzker: I think like everything that gets introduced in the General Assembly, you know, it has its moment. And I’ve had lots of conversations with folks in the General Assembly about that. And I expect that we will be taking up that pension reform idea, which I think is an excellent idea, and will help us to pay off our pensions to 100%, not to 90%. And to make sure that we get credit rating upgrades and that we’re being fiscally responsible. So I think it will get taken up by the General Assembly, I certainly will make sure that it gets a hearing and I expect that we’ll be able to do something that will put us in even better fiscal shape than we already are in.

* Historic preservation

Q: When it comes to the budget, historic preservationists say that there isn’t money and admittedly have not looked through the whole thing. So maybe it’s tucked in there. But there isn’t money for some historic preservation sites that are very dilapidated, falling down. Why not support that? Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Pritzker: Oh, I mean, let’s be clear, there are a lot of things that I would have liked to have seen done in this budget that there were only limited resources for. But I want to remind you that since I came into office, we have put more money into the Department of Natural Resources and into Historic Preservation than has been done in quite a number of years. And you’ve seen that many of those sites have already been renovated. There’s more to do for sure. And I’m sure there is somebody who would point to a site that nothing has yet been done on and needs to be done. And I would like to get to that as soon as possible. Once again, we’re, you know, always in every year you’ve got limited resources and an unlimited demand. But we’re going to do our best to get to every one of those things, because you’re right, the history of Illinois, history more broadly ought to be preserved.

       

16 Comments
  1. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 1:26 pm:

    ” Well, I want to remind all of you that across the board budget cuts, this idea is not an idea that Democrats believe in. ”

    I would believe JB if his point was that Dem’s only oppose across Board Cuts - when in reality they oppose any and all cuts.


  2. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:13 pm:

    ==-” Well, I want to remind all of you that across the board budget cuts, this idea is not an idea that Democrats believe in. ”==

    Last I checked Susana is a pretty powerful and respected Democrat. She cannot be too happy about this dis from the Governor.


  3. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:25 pm:

    === Across the board cuts ===

    Plain old lazy man’s Ior woman’s) pandering. Real solutions aren’t easy, but they don’t roll off the tongue as easily.


  4. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:28 pm:

    =She cannot be too happy about this dis from the Governor.=

    When the truth is a “dis” it really isn’t a dis, but a reminder to Mendoza to have a plan not a campaigning point.

    =when in reality they oppose any and all cuts.=

    It is hard to deny that sometimes it feels like that, especially when the mayor of Chicago comes asking for another $1 billion when he can raise it locally.


  5. - James in Little Italy - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:41 pm:

    =-” Well, I want to remind all of you that across the board budget cuts, this idea is not an idea that Democrats believe in. ”==

    Why does it smell like someone cut some Blago era cheese from the Rescissíon Creamery. Why would anyone want to go back to that awful world?


  6. - Yeesh - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:50 pm:

    I get why the Gov would go after Mendoza, who demands credit for work she doesn’t do (balancing the budget, ratings increases) and is first in line to score cheap political points (the nebulous no-pain ‘across the board cuts,’ where no group can be too angry because you’ve essentially said nothing).

    I don’t get attacking Crespo. 1) you need his vote, at least if next year’s House roll call is anything like this year’s. 2) you need his fellow Dems to approach FY26 with more restraint than they could muster this year. Instead of attacking, I would’ve said: I have a lot of respect for Fred Crespo and his service. I appreciate that he wants to take a cautious approach to the next couples of years, and look forward to our debates. I think we have a lot more in common than not.


  7. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:52 pm:

    The idea that neither Dems nor Republicans can have an opinion which deviates from boilerplate talking points is a big reason political discourse has become so toxic.


  8. - Yeesh - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:53 pm:

    == Last I checked Susana is a pretty powerful and respected Democrat. She cannot be too happy about this dis from the Governor.==

    Last I checked, she got trounced in her most recent competitive election, by Lori Lightfoot, no less.


  9. - Notorious JMB - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 2:54 pm:

    Mendoza is definitely a Dem, same with Crespo and both have political pull. Pritzker and his crew have been pretty adept at keeping everyone rowing in the same direction. These two making Republicanesque statements about spending may be a sign that that his political influence is waning with Dem office holders. May be fun to watch how it plays out.


  10. - Steve - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 3:27 pm:

    -You want to cut education by 5 percent?-

    With declining enrollments in many K-12 districts and at some of the state universities: it could be done. But, it will not be because taxpayers aren’t as powerful as the consumers of the taxes .


  11. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 3:28 pm:

    ===by Lori Lightfoot, no less===

    Lightfoot was a true juggernaut.


  12. - Morty - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 3:42 pm:

    consumers of the taxes .

    How is Galt’s Gulch this time of year?

    We’re all tax payers and we’re all consumers of taxes- it’s basic to the idea of a civilized society.


  13. - Proud Papa Bear - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 4:13 pm:

    “ taxpayers aren’t as powerful as the consumers of the taxes”
    Close to 100% of taxpayers can vote.
    Close to 0% of K-12 students can vote.


  14. - From DaZoo - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 4:18 pm:

    “…Rep. Crespo’s proposal for a hiring freeze…”

    Given there is budget for a certain number of staff, but some agencies are experiencing higher attrition rates than hiring, a hiring freeze is unnecessary. How much of each agencies’ personnel budget goes unspent in a fiscal year because of net staffing losses?


  15. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 4:39 pm:

    =With declining enrollments in many K-12 districts and at some of the state universities: it could be done. But, it will not be because taxpayers aren’t as powerful as the consumers of the taxes .=

    Prove it. And be specific.

    Also, tell me about what you know with regard to health insurance costs, wages, curriculum costs (massive increases in the last 4 years), the cost of buses (up 40% over our last 3yr lease), fuel and energy costs (completely unpredictable at this point), maintenance and construction costs (given the aging infrastructure of the vast majority of Illinois schools I am sure you are current on the cost to replace the compressor of a 20 year old HVAC unit).

    EVERY one of those is up more than 5% year over year for the last 10 years.

    And… teachers, as citizens and taxpayers, vote.


  16. - Tax And Spend - Wednesday, Jun 5, 24 @ 5:12 pm:

    Gov. Pritzker: Well, I want to remind all of you that across the board budget cuts, this idea is not an idea that Democrats believe in. This idea that you can just go across the board and cut 5 percent of the budget and not have a very deleterious effect on people all across the state.

    Amen Governor….no one going to argue with that ….


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