(The Center Square) – While House Speaker Michael Madigan announced an “advisory group” to review Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed cuts, public finance watchdogs said what’s been revealed so far won't balance the budget.
A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced $711 million in budget cuts to shore up the state’s finances, Madigan and Pritzker separately attacked the Republican super-minority for a lack of a plan.
“I hope our Republican colleagues choose to be willing participants instead of partisan obstructionists and come prepared to offer real proposals that are void of political theatre,” Madigan said in a statement announcing he’ll form an advisory group.
“It’s easy to criticize when you have no plan of your own,” Pritzker said Wednesday of Republicans critical of the Democrats who passed the unbalanced budget in May.
Politics aside, Truth In Accounting Research Director Bill Bergman said what’s been proposed so far, in combination with $2 billion in borrowing, there’s still more than a billion-dollar gap in the budget.
One part of the governor’s plan includes union employee layoffs and “cost adjustments,” something Bergman said might be difficult to achieve.
“Yeah, that’s going to be a river to cross, we’ll see in the future,” Bergman said. “In the past, the labor unions have been very successful in advancing their case.”
The AFSCME union is resisting cuts and is pushing for finding more revenue instead.
A tax increase is the “dog that didn’t bark,” Bergman said, but he notes voters rejected the progressive income tax.
“Whether or not they’ll stand still for more tax increases also is not certain,” Bergman said.
Separately, Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said their research indicates people continue to leave the state and tax increases won’t help.
“In 93 counties out of 102 have lost people since 2010, they’re bleeding people,” Dabrowski said. “So more tax hikes is just creating the same problem and chasing more people away.”
Dabrowski said increasing taxes will push people out of Illinois and the proposed cuts are gimmicks and real reforms are needed.
“It means looking at the whole budget and changing how we do education, changing how we do the retirements, changing how we do healthcare,” Dabrowski said. “It’s a real, real big problem and it takes a big solution, not one-year gimmicks.”
Illinois’ budget is more than $3.9 billion out of balance.
A group of Democratic lawmakers from across the state plan a news conference for Thursday morning that a statement said would call on others to work on finding "billions of dollars in tax loopholes and giveaways so that we can preserve essential services."