Gov. Pritzker Reveals $52.7B Budget Focused on Migrant Crisis, Education

The migrant crisis, education and quantum computing. 

Those are the priorities of the nearly $53 billion Illinois budget proposed by Gov. JB Pritzker. Moreover, the plan includes tax increases primarily aimed at businesses, including a significant tax hike on sports betting. 

Pritzker, a second-term Democrat, described the $52.7 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year as “focused and disciplined,” stating that it represents a modest 2% spending increase. Despite tight finances, he assured lawmakers in Springfield that Illinois maintains fiscal stability and can uphold its commitments to its residents.

“I wish we had big surpluses to work with this year to take on every one of the very real challenges we face,” Pritzker said to lawmakers during his annual State of the State address. “It’s important to note, that while this budget is tight this year, our fiscal house is in order, and we are able to keep our commitments to the people of Illinois.”

Pritzker’s proposal will go before a Democrat-majority House and Senate, where budget negotiations will ensue. The funds allocated for new arrivals will likely get the most scrutiny, particularly by Republicans. 

The budget proposal allocates an additional $182 million for migrants, in collaboration with Cook County, earmarked for “welcoming center” services such as housing coordination, legal assistance, and combating homelessness.

Last year, Pritzker’s budget office forecasted a nearly $900 million shortfall, but on Wednesday, they revealed a smaller deficit than expected and introduced new revenue measures to address it. These measures involve doubling the sports wagering tax to 35%, projected to generate around $200 million, and capping a deduction for corporations, aiming to save $526 million.

The proposed budget allocates $500 million for quantum computing technology, including a cryogenics facility. 

An additional $150 million was dedicated to the statewide initiative for universal preschool by 2027 and a $450 million increase for K-12 education, covering transportation, special education grants, literacy programs and teacher recruitment efforts. 

Pritzker also outlined plans to address Illinois’ pension debt by raising the funding target to 100% and extending the payment deadline to 2048. Additionally, he proposed permanently repealing the 1% sales tax on groceries, previously suspended in 2022.

As expected, lawmakers and officials representing various interests issued statements reacting to Gov. Pritzker’s budget, including Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton:

Today, Governor Pritzker reaffirmed what he has demonstrated every day for the last five years: leadership matters. The 2024 State of the State and Budget Address continues our administration’s fiscal responsibility to the people of Illinois.

Building on our record of five balanced budgets and nine credit upgrades, the proposed FY25 budget will further our work to uplift and invest in Illinois’ working families.

Budgets bring hard decisions, but Governor Pritzker is particularly good about centering compassion in his leadership. The proposed FY25 budget will give more children access to pre-school, more students can attend college tuition- and fee-free, and more entrepreneurs can pursue their dreams. The proposed budget also addresses an endemic issue for Black women – maternal mortality. 

The new Birth Equity Initiative proposes $23 million to invest in decreasing pregnancy-related deaths in Black women through community-centered approaches. Our administration’s commitment to Illinois’ financial health goes hand-in-hand with our dedication to healing communities across the state.

The future of Illinois is bright, and I can’t wait to see what strides we’ll make next.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford:

“As we navigate the fiscal landscape of our state, it is imperative to craft a budget that prioritizes the well-being and prosperity of all Illinoisans, addresses the key issues facing our communities and fosters sustainable economic growth. The proposed $13 million investment to launch the Department of Early Childhood will ground on our transition to a whole, trauma-informed approach to meeting children’s diverse needs.

“Investing in education is investing in our future. I continue to stand in support of allocating additional funds to enhance K-12 education, ensuring that every student has access to quality resources and opportunities. This includes ensuring adequate funding for underprivileged schools and supporting initiatives aimed at reducing the opportunity gap.

“We must put forth a budget that outlines strategic investments in education, health care, infrastructure and economic development to address the diverse needs of Illinois residents. By working collaboratively and making prudent financial decisions, we can build a stronger, more equitable future for all.” 

Democratic Party of Illinois:

“Building on five years of fiscal progress and responsibility, Governor JB Pritzker once again laid out a positive vision for our state that invests in education, health care, infrastructure, public safety, and human services in his State of the State and Budget Address. Democrats across the state will work together to continue bolstering our finances while investing in budget priorities that move Illinois forward.

Governor Pritzker, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Treasurer Mike Frerichs, and Democrats in the General Assembly have put Illinois’ finances back on track over the past five years, with nine credit rating upgrades, five balanced budgets, an eliminated bill backlog, and over $2 billion invested in our Rainy Day Fund. Democrats continue to prove their commitment to uplifting Illinois’ working families and delivering real progress for all Illinoisans,” said DPI Chair Lisa Hernandez.

Illinois Republican Party: 

“Governor Pritzker has made it a habit of standing up every year to tell the people of Illinois not to believe their own eyes and just trust him with their money. Governor Pritzker’s budgets have spiked spending more than 30% since he took office while we as a state continue to lose population, more than 260,000 people leaving Illinois in the last 3 years alone. Governor Pritzker helped bring the ongoing migrant crisis to Illinois and despite 18 months of disaster proclamations, still can’t get on the same page with the state’s largest city. All the while, he jetsets across the country giving political speeches, more interested in headlines and presidential speculation than actually governing this state.

This budget proposal represents what we’ve come to expect from Governor Pritzker: empty promises of bipartisanship, a radical agenda, and more of your taxpayer dollars to cover the tab.”

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford:

“If we want to build a stronger Illinois, it starts with developing a robust budget that reflects the challenges and opportunities facing families – especially those in communities that are far too often left behind. I am going to take a close look at the priorities outlined by the governor today, and am particularly focused on how we intend to enhance public safety, create jobs and support education every step of the way. With so much at stake, we have to invest in behavioral health, homeless support and harm reduction strategies for those living with substance abuse disorders. Every budget is an opportunity to help people, and we need to make sure we get this year’s right.” 

Illinois Chamber of Commerce:

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is aligned with the Governor’s goal of expanding opportunities for the growth of businesses of all sizes and to continue the expansion of our state’s gross domestic product that has surpassed $1 trillion.

We are, however, disappointed by the Governor’s proposal to extend the cap on business net operating loss. The cap is nothing more than forced borrowing of funds from Illinois businesses to finance government.

We are also disappointed by the Governor’s proposal to reduce the sales tax retailers’ discount. This is a stealth tax increase on our retail sector, who are managing increased operating expenses due to rising labor and raw materials forcing them to operate on already razor thin margins.

We appreciate the Governor’s unwavering support for education and we are aligned that investing in education is vital to building a brighter future for our communities. We believe strongly that educational optionality should be the right of all our states students, especially those in underrepresented communities which saw significant cut backs due the expiration of the Invest in Kids Act. 

The Chicago Teachers Union:

Governor Pritzker’s Budget Address shows what our members already know: when it comes to the budget, our students need more. Chicago Public Schools still need full funding per Illinois’ school funding formula.

Illinois has a best-in-the-nation school funding formula. The formula identifies what makes schools work best – lower class sizes, librarians, social workers, counselors, and teachers’ assistants, for instance. What Illinois doesn’t have is enough money invested into schools based on this formula. In Illinois, 70% of children go to a school that’s underfunded, including every child in Chicago Public Schools. The Illinois Board of Education reports that we need $820 million in new money in each of the next three years to get the State funding formula to 90% funded.

Because of this, not to mention the decades of privatization and structural racism that preceded the formula’s creation, Chicago Public Schools have never been funded the way they should be. Instead, Chicago schools have been starved of resources through the no-neighborhood school-choice school choice model, innumerable closures, and a race to the bottom based on underfunding that exacerbates declining enrollment.

Neighborhood schools like Nicholson in Chicago’s Englewood community have 1 out of 3 houseless students, and are tasked with providing a safe haven for newcomers and increasing numbers of ELL students: these schools, and the students they serve, deserve more.

Every student in Chicago Public Schools needs a baseline of supports and resources. There is still a tremendous gap between the educational resources available to Illinois’ wealthiest communities and poorest, putting Black, Latine and working-class communities at a structural disadvantage. We need our partners in state government to close this gap and provide the foundational level of support all our students deserve.

Today Governor Pritzker highlighted his commitment to the children of Illinois, including his dedication to public schools and his faith in the funding based formula for education. With the Governor, the Board of Education, and the Mayor of Chicago all in agreement on our educational priorities, this is a chance to meaningfully fund the formula and make those resources a reality. It’s a chance to set a real baseline for quality education in every Chicago Public School. We ask that the Governor and State Legislature fund our schools in the ways they deserve.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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