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Questions about costs surround Pritzker’s United Kingdom trip

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(The Center Square) – As Gov. J.B. Pritzker and business leaders across the state travel to the United Kingdom for a business trade mission, some have questioned the state of business at home and taxpayer costs involved in the trip.

Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, are part of a 40-person group that includes education officials and business leaders. The group is headed to the U.K. to discuss manufacturing, clean energy and technology, quantum, higher education collaboration, and other industries.

Sheila Weinberg, of Truth in Accounting, said the Illinois taxpayer could end up being on the hook for the trip’s costs.

“There is obviously a lot of security concerns involved, so how much that is going to cost, we do not know,” Weinberg said. “What type of plane are they taking? Are they going to fly commercial or are they going to use the governor’s private plane?”

Weinberg said there are also expenditures that will need to be paid for when the group arrives in the U.K.

“There is also hotels and ground transportation, then meals and other costs,” Weinberg told The Center Square. “So you have to add up all the costs and try to look at how is this going to benefit the state of Illinois?”

As officials talk business overseas, Chris Davis of the National Federation of Independent Businesses told The Center Square that small businesses are still dealing with issues at home.

“Small business in Illinois is still struggling. They are still recovering from the pandemic,” Davis said. “They are still facing workforce challenges, and they are still facing historic inflation.”

Davis said growing business outside of the United States is important for the state of Illinois but did say more focus should be paid to the problems surrounding the state’s businesses.

“Those messages need to be sold. However, it would be nice to see some attention to the workforce issues here in Illinois and the cost of doing business here in Illinois,” Davis said.

According to state numbers, Illinois is the largest exporting state in the Midwest and the fifth largest in the nation.

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