SPRINGFIELD (IRN) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first state budget calls for spending more on schools, colleges and universities and social services.
To pay for it, he wants to increase taxes on top earners and legalize recreational marijuana, among other things.
The state’s new governor started his budget presentation to lawmakers by going back to the Great Depression. He said Illinois had the same problems then as the state does now.
“Illinois’ 200-year history is a web of recurring challenges. The same theme is recycling with each new decade.” Pritzker told lawmakers Wednesday. “When reviewing past reports to the General Assembly by previous governors, the same problems are raised over and over again: There is not enough money to address social ills, not enough jobs to employ people, not enough resources to adequately maintain and build our infrastructure, and not enough attention to the plight of working families. It may not surprise you to learn that these problems existed in 1819, they existed in 1919 and they exist today in 2019.”
Pritzker proposed solving those problems by legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use, legalizing sports betting, taxing the people who take care of the sick and the old, borrowing $4 billion and pushing the state’s pension payoff further down the road.
“The budget I present to you today is an honest proposal,” Pritzker said. “The costs are not hidden, the revenues I propose are not out of reach, the hole we need to fill is not ignored.”
That budget hole is $3.2 billion. There’s also $15 billion in unpaid bills. They will stay unpaid.
Pritzker said outside of those bills, he expects the state to bring in $38.9 billion next year. He wants to spend almost every penny of it, $38.7 billion.