CHICACO – On the day Gov. JB Pritzker witnessed some of the first COVID-19 vaccines get administered in the state, he announced more than $700M in reductions to the 2021 budget.
Gov. Pritzker said the state will see a $3.9B shortfall for this fiscal year. He said $2B was created by revenue shortfall due to COVID.
The state could see money from the federal government to help with the COVID shortfall but the governor says the rest of the deficit has to be the focus right now.
“I am presenting $700M in initial cuts to our executive branch agencies. These are cuts that are under my control as to make as governor without help from the general assembly,” explained Gov. Pritzker.
The spending reduction plan includes a hiring freeze, grant reductions, and operational savings.
Pritzker’s administration is also in negotiations with AFSCME and other employee unions to identify $75 million in personnel cost adjustments, which could include furlough days.
“By definition, taking employees off the front lines will slow the delivery of services to residents but this is the place where we find ourselves today,” explained Gov. Pritzker.
The administration is also creating a Department of Corrections facilities closure workgroup to identify additional savings due to the lower offender population.
He says he is eager to hear the proposals from the republican lawmakers to help make realistic cuts.
“Illinois suffered a two-year republican induced crisis before getting to COVID,” remarked Gov. Pritzker
He said Illinois’ fiscal health needed intervention before the pandemic. He says little was done to address it before he took office.
Gov. Pritzker said he promised to focus on balancing the budget and paying down the bills when he took office.
The governor is also urging Congress to pass direct funding for state and local governments who have coordinated the pandemic responses.