SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Governor Pritzker’s new budget proposal has some ambitious goals.
His annual budget address included a proposal for universal preschool, an increase in MAP grant funding and a new initiative to combat homelessness in the state.
Each of those ideas comes with a big price tag, too. The preschool initiative amounts to a $250 million dollar investment. MAP grant funding would increase by $100 million.
“When done right, consistent, balanced budgets, strengthen the institutions our residents rely upon, creates new opportunities for success and makes life easier for the people of Illinois,” Pritzker said during his speech.
The Governor’s own budget experts are anticipating a revenue drop off next fiscal year by three percent. Republicans view the increase in spending during this period to be irresponsible.
“What I heard today is the governor is seeking to incorporate and build upon that additional spending going forward at a time when we are likely to be facing a recession,” Senate Republican Leader John Curran said. “We need to heed Comptroller Mendoza’s warnings. And we need to rein in spending and stop the Democratic majority from spending us into a tax increase.”
Curran is referencing some warnings that Comptroller Mendoza voiced over the past few weeks.
On Capitol Connection earlier this month, she said now was not the time for “frivolous spending.”
“We don’t want to see spending for new programs that might not be proven or tested programs that end up, you know, being added to the budget year to year,” Mendoza said on the show.
On Wednesday, the Comptroller joined other Democrats in saying the proposals from the Governor were far from frivolous.
“My hope was that Governor Pritzker would propose a balanced budget that shores up our Rainy Day Fund and the Pension Stabilization Fund; that avoids any major commitments for new programs and instead uses revenue surpluses on existing programs that have proven a good return on investment for Illinois taxpayers – programs like early childhood education and MAP grants for Illinois college students,” Mendoza said in a statement following the budget address. “His proposed budget does all that. Instead of new programs, I see careful, strategic, and necessary investments in childcare and pre-school programs where they are most needed.”
Mendoza also applauded the new investments into the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the Rainy Day Fund. When the pandemic started, the fund was virtually empty. This budget proposal from the governor would put nearly $1.2 billion dollars into the fund this fiscal year.