Pritzker Touts New $42B State Budget In Peoria Appearance
Gov. JB Pritzker believes the $42 billion state budget passed this week by the General Assembly moves Illinois one step closer to the kind of state its people want it to become.
Pritzker stopped in Peoria on Wednesday alongside local Democratic legislators State Sen. Dave Koehler and State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth to tout the budget’s advantages.
“I came into office in 2019 with a promise to always meet our most basic responsibility, and that's our real balanced budget,” said Pritzker. “For the third straight year, I'll sign into law another balanced budget for Illinois that demonstrates fiscal responsibility, (and) works with a vision of governance that truly values public education, public roads and public services.”
Pritzker said Peoria will benefit from the state’s commitment to investing in communities, workers, and families, adding small businesses will continue to get support as Illinois begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Illinois has been a national leader in getting relief to businesses through our Business Interruption Grant program, reaching 128 businesses here in Peoria so far, and this new funding will build on that success,” he said.
Pritzker said the state remains on track to enter Phase 5 — a complete reopening — of his Restore Illinois plan on June 11. But he cautioned the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, urging people who have not gotten vaccinated to do so.
“We have declining numbers of cases, declining people in the hospital, and declining numbers of people who are going to the hospital for the first time with COVID,” he said.
Gordon-Booth said the budget will allow Peoria to continue making strides.
“Now, we're in a place where we are able to think about a new vision for Peoria and what Peoria can be in its new iteration, and the new iteration of Peoria is inclusive of everybody,” she said. “It's inclusive of labor. It's inclusive of phenomenal organizations that are here today, like the South Side Mission and the children that go to institutions like that, that are going to receive resources through this balanced budget to be able to have quality after-school programming, to keep kids off the streets and keep their minds and bodies nurtured and doing positive activities.”
Pritzker said the new budget will enable Illinois to do “more than ever before to stop the crime and violence that ravages too many vulnerable communities.”
“That includes additional support for our summer youth employment program, which meant that over 200 young Peorians got to pursue a new opportunity last summer, and we continue that effort now,” he said.
The governor also noted that Illinois will direct more than $100 million toward affordable housing, on top of a recently announced $1.5 billion commitment to rental relief. Pritzker urged renters needing assistance to visit IllinoisHousingHelp.org.
Koehler said passing a balanced budget for a third straight year shows progress from the years under former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“We have come out of the dark days of the years in which we went two years without a budget, and in that time period where we saw our credit rating go into the cellar,” said Koehler. “We're now at a point where this budget is balanced. It's good. It gives the people of Illinois what they deserve what they expected. And watch and see: Illinois credit rating is going nowhere but up.”
With the Murray Baker Bridge in the background, Pritzker highlighted the accomplishments of the Rebuild Illinois infrastructure program, saying the budget also will curb ethics violations in government and improve equity in the legalized cannabis industry.
“This pandemic has brought a whole lot of challenges to a whole lot of people across our state in our nation,” he said. “But it's also underscored the need for smart investments that reflect the good spirit of our residents' investments, only possible when elected officials from across the state can come together and commit to doing the right thing for the people of Illinois.”