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Largest state budget in Illinois history signed despite bipartisan calls for cuts

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(The Center Square) – The largest taxpayer spending plan in Illinois state history was signed Wednesday.

Approved by the House last week, and the Senate the week before that, the budget spends $53.1 billion in state funds. That’s 32% higher than when Gov. J.B. Pritzker first took office in 2019. Add federal tax dollars and other state funds, the fiscal year 2025 plan spends $125 billion.

Before signing the budget Tuesday, Pritzker heralded the budget.

“Education, health care, housing, child care, these are some of the most important issues at the top of mind for Illinois families and this budget goes a long way toward addressing them,” Pritzker said.

The budget also spends about $970 million on non-citizen migrants.

Before voting “no,” Senate Minority Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said the budget is a “missed opportunity to push back on the governor’s misguided agenda.”

President Joe Biden’s “refusal to secure our nation’s border coupled with Governor Pritzker’s quest to use non-citizen welfare policies to propel himself in the national stage is playing itself out in this very budget before us. It is patently unfair to require Illinois taxpayers to fund their joint failure.”

It wasn’t just Republicans who wanted spending cuts. Some Democrats, such as Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza and state Rep. Fred Crespo, sought to reduce spending. Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, suggested a hiring freeze, across-the-board reductions and building agency reserves.

“And we came up with a billion dollars and my understanding was that that wasn’t considered either,” Crespo said on the House floor last week.

Pritzker said they could have brought their ideas directly to his office. He also addressed concerns about future year spending pressures.

“You heard that in 2022. You heard that in 2023. You’re hearing it in 2024,” Pritzker said. “People say it every year and you know what we have done? Balanced the budget every single year.”

Just in Pritkzer’s first term, Illinois taxpayers paid at least $5.2 billion of increased taxes, according to Illinois Policy. The new budget starting July 1 increases taxes another $750 million, including another increase in gas taxes.

“Imposing new tax hikes on a shrinking population will exacerbate the outmigration crisis in Illinois,” said Illinois Policy’s Bryce Hill. “Illinoisans are forced to keep up with lawmakers’ unhealthy spending patterns, which drive away businesses and residents. Instead of increasing the burden, lawmakers should be looking for ways to reduce taxes and spending. Without major changes, Illinois will continue to be an unaffordable state to live and do business in.”

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