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Pritzker, Bailey lay out fiscal plans for the state

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Much of Gov. Pritzker’s message on the campaign trail has been about his reputation — especially the state budget. When he took office in 2019, the state was in crisis.

A two-year budget impasse has left the state with a gigantic amount of delinquent accounts — the lowest in the nation’s credit rating. And state bodies are in ruins

“Bruce Rauner has left us in a huge hole. And we really rebuilt it,” Pritzker said. “And I’m very happy with where we’re at.”

During Pritzker’s first term, the state received six improved loans and there is no backlog. He points to this couple of facts to prove his financial success during his first term.

But even with the state’s financial base improving, 52 percent of people still say the state is on the wrong track, according to our Nexstar/Emerson College/ The Hill Poll.

Governor Pritzker, however, is not opposed to that figure. He said he wants it to be higher, but given the state he was in when he started, it’s good progress.

“Before I came into office, at the end of Governor Rauner’s term, 9% thought the state was on the right track if people were going to distract Illinoisans,” Pritzker said. . “You’ve just seen the latest poll which showed that 48% of people now think the state is on the right track. It takes years to improve, you know, the reputation of an agency or an entire state, we’ve got work to do, too.”

Pritzker said in a one-on-one interview with Capitol Connection that if his Republican opponent, Darren Bailey, is elected, that progress will be lost and it will feel like a return to the Rauner years.

“It’s going to lead to Bruce Rauner budgeting where we didn’t have a budget,” Pritzker said. “We can go years without a budget under Darren Bailey.”

Bailey disagrees, saying the rosy picture the state’s governor paints is far from accurate.

“Illinois in better shape?” Bailey said in an interview Monday. “No one can say with an open face that it is.”

When talking about public finances, Bailey relies on his idea of ​​a zero-sum budget. According to his plan, every government agency must start with zero dollars and prove the need for every dollar it invests in the budget. Bailey claims there is $10 billion to $15 billion in waste in the state budget.

“Ten-15 billion dollars of unaccounted expenses? Yes.” Bailey said. “Again, when J. B. Pritzker took office, we had a budget of 34 billion dollars. Today, we have a budget of $46 billion.”

Experts of the Tax and Budget Reporting Center say that such cuts are impossible. At first glance, Bailey’s figure of $10 billion to $15 billion is a third of the state budget, but Ralph Martyr, CTBA’s executive director, says it’s an even bigger chunk. There are billions of dollars in every state budget that the state is legally obligated to pay. According to Martyr, that cost is just over $18 billion.

So instead of Bailey looking at cutting the state budget by a third, it will really end up being about 46 percent of the state’s spending plan.

Despite this, Bailey stuck to his ideas, saying his cuts are what the state needs for tax relief, pointing to a significant increase in government spending without saying what specific cuts he would make.

“We need to shrink government,” Bailey said. “We need to start with a zero budget that will show us exactly where our money is going.”

Pritzker says the state is already on that path. This year’s budget included temporary and one-time tax breaks for Illinois residents, but he says the state may begin discussing permanent relief in the near future.

I’m very happy with where we are. But now we are in a position where we can really think about lowering taxes in the future.

The CTBA also disagrees with that sentiment, saying the state doesn’t even come close to offering a permanent tax break.

“Let me think. No, now that they want me to think about it again… No,” Martyr said. “There may be some tax relief. But the bottom line is that we still have this structural imbalance. So our revenue growth is not keeping up with our cost growth, just adjusted for inflation.”

During the campaign, Bailey tried to distance himself from some of the hyperconservative positions that won him the primary, including his support of former President Donald Trump. In June, Bailey received an endorsement from Donald Trump and appeared on stage with him at a rally in Quincy.

At that rally, Bailey said he would “roll out the red carpet for Trump in 2024.” But in recent weeks, he has shied away from Trump, using the fact that the former president has not said he will run again.

Asked today if he still plans to rock the red carpet, he said: “I’m a man of my word.”

“Let’s see if he decides to run for office. I’m a man of my word,” Bailey said. “So, as far as I know, he’s not a declared presidential candidate, and we’ll see what happens when that time comes.”

Pritzker has long used Bailey’s support of Trump and vice versa as a way to attack Bailey, saying the Republican is too extreme for Illinois.


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