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State Rep. Ryan Spain disappointed with aspects of state’s 2024 budget

State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria
State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria

Republican State Rep. Ryan Spain of Peoria believes the fiscal year 2024 budget recently approved by the Illinois General Assembly gives Gov. JB Pritzker too much authority over state spending.

One particular area that did not sit well with Spain was increased spending toward the state's health care program for undocumented immigrants.

While Pritzker’s initial budget proposal called for $220 million, the estimate ballooned to $1.1 billion before legislators ultimately settled on half that amount.

“Those health care services are not available for matching funds from the federal government, and we’ve basically kicked the can over to the governor and given him additional emergency rulemaking power – that was the same power he wielded during the pandemic – to try and fix this program, instead of doing it ourselves,” said Spain.

The former Peoria City Council member felt the Democratic supermajority in Springfield did not give adequate consideration to GOP concerns.

“Budgets always include a lot of items that certainly are good but sometimes things that are bad, and in this budget I think a couple things jumped out at me,” said Spain, whose 73rd legislative district covers northern parts of the city and stretches north to include parts of Bureau and Whiteside counties.

“First, we certainly don't need to be increasing the pay for legislators in the State of Illinois,” he added, pointing to a 5% salary bump on the heels of a 16% raise that went into effect in January. “I don't have too many constituents who are getting raises two times in the last six months. So I think that's inappropriate with what we see happening in the state of Illinois economy right now.”

Spain did approve of a $350 million increase for the evidence-based funding formula for public schools.

“One of the things that we know we need to do as the state of Illinois is put more state dollars into our public schools,” he said. “That creates a relief on the property tax bill, because schools represent the largest line item on any person's property taxes.

“We have the highest property taxes in America, and if we want to do something to put some downward pressure on property taxes, we need to be putting more money into schools. This budget does that and I think that's a good idea.”

Spain said he would like to see a more bipartisan approach taken on future state spending plans.

“I don't think the budgets need to be unilateral actions taken from only one party. … You've got to have some victories that can help you tolerate some of the other policy outcomes or budget choices that you may not like, and in this budget there just wasn't much of that.”

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.