Springfield – Yesterday, State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) voted against the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget package. Rep. Hammond highlighted the budget’s multi-billion dollar deficit and reliance on massive borrowing from the Federal government. Hammond also noted the Democrats’ giving of enormous budget powers to Governor J.B. Pritzker and prioritizing their projects in their districts while ignoring those of Republicans.
“Hoping for a massive Federal bailout of state government and borrowing billions of dollars is not a real budget plan,” said Rep. Hammond. “Because of the massive deficit and new debt, this budget will put great strain and uncertainty on state vendors, social service providers, those who rely on services and taxpayers. I am also deeply disappointed in the Democratic majority’s complete abdication of their responsibility to craft a budget line-by-line. Giving the Governor even more control and less oversight over Coronavirus response efforts is ridiculous, given his track record of ignoring input from lawmakers. Similarly, it’s incredibly unfair that a university and hospitals in Democratic districts get special treatment and increased funding, while those in Republican districts get none. For these and other reasons, I oppose this budget.”
Although FY21 budget discussions began in bipartisan working groups, Democratic lawmakers opted to cut Republican lawmakers out from the final budget product. Opposition to the budget bill, Senate Bill 264, and budget implementation bill (BIMP), House Bill 357, was bipartisan.
The FY21 budget spends roughly $42.9 billion, which is over $2 billion more than the FY20 budget that passed last year. At the same time, state tax revenues have plummeted to $36.8 billion. $5 billion of the $36.8 billion in tax revenues comes from new borrowing from the Federal Reserve authorized by the CARES Act. The $5 billion in new debt must be paid over the next decade.
The FY21 budget contains a $6.1 billion deficit. Democrat lawmakers passed the unbalanced budget on the hopes that the Federal government would pass a fourth round of Coronavirus stimulus relief legislation to provide direct cash assistance to state governments.
Democrat lawmakers have ceded an enormous amount of authority over spending to Governor J.B. Pritzker in the FY21 budget. Governor Pritzker may have sole discretion over nearly $7 billion in Coronavirus relief funds that Illinois has already received or may receive in the future because the Democratic majority opted to not place any limitations on the Governor’s spending abilities.
The FY21 budget also increases funding for Chicago State University by $1.4 million, while state funding for several other public universities, including Western Illinois University, is held flat. Democrat lawmakers also gave $19.8 million in arbitrary grants to specific hospitals over and above the hospital assessment plan that a bipartisan group of lawmakers worked on for months.