Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzer sounded the “alarm” Tuesday regarding the possibility that Illinois may have to cut 5% from its budget next year, which he described as a “nightmare scenario.” He also pleaded with the federal government for a bailout package to help avert such a “nightmare.”
“Until Republicans in Washington decide otherwise, middle class, working class and poor families across our state and across the nation will likely suffer from cuts to public safety, education, human services and environmental safety — and the potential layoffs will make the economic recession worse,” Pritzker said. “I can promise you that, for everyone and anyone who got into public service who actually wants to serve the public, this is a nightmare scenario.”
Meanwhile, Illinois Republicans had little sympathy for Pritzker’s pleas, saying that they warned Pritzker months ago that the state’s revenues, which are anticipated to reach only $37 billion, were woefully inadequate to pay for the governor’s $42 billion budget package.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, House Republican leader Jim Durkin said, “House Republicans repeatedly warned the Democrats in May about this looming catastrophe — budgeting for $42 billion in spending with only $37 billion in revenue.”
Pritzler warned that the budget shortfall could lead to “thousands” of layoffs. The city of Chicago has also faced a severe budget shortfall this year, leading mayor Lori Lightfoot — who has engaged in a frequent war of words with President Donald Trump — to propose a budget that includes severe cutbacks for 2021 in order to make up for a shortfall this year.
Of note, Illinois has consistently lagged behind most of the rest of the country, and federal guidance, when it comes to allowing economic activity to resume in the state. This means that many Illinois small business owners have had to cut their budgets by 100% specifically because of orders issued by Pritzker and his administration, as opposed to the “nightmare” 5% potential state budget cut bemoaned by Pritzker.
For their part, Illinois Republicans promised to work with Democrats to fix the budget hole, though they made it clear that they accepted no responsibility for the shortfall.
Durkin told the Sun-Times, “The $5 billion hole, created by the Democrat-controlled government, was to be filled on a wish and a prayer through a Congressional bailout that never happened. This may be the worst budget in recent memory. My caucus will gladly return to Springfield to fix this disaster with a reality check on our finances and hopefully avoid further damage to our state.”