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Illinois legislators return Wednesday to reveal, pass state budget


Wednesday, May 24, 2023  |  Article  |  Greg Bishop

Illinois taxpayers still have yet to see how legislators plan to spend their money in the coming fiscal year.


July 1 begins the next budget year for the state of Illinois. The Illinois Constitution states all bills passed after May 31 with an immediate effective date require supermajority support in the legislature.


Gov. J.B. Pritkzer in February proposed a nearly $50 billion plan, up from around $37 billion in fiscal year 2014. Since the governor’s budget address earlier this year, revenues have come in below expectations. The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability projected revenues for April 2023 were $1.8 billion less than the same month the year before.


Pritzker acknowledged the need to tighten spending.


“Knowing that this might be coming, we’ve ramped down some of the spending here and there within all of our agencies to make sure that we could cover that 1% difference,” Pritzker said last month.


One of the big sticking points is taxpayer subsidies for the health care of undocumented migrants. The cost for the coming year with Illinois’ policy of covering those over the age of 42 is estimated to be more than $1 billion. There are no federal matching taxpayer funds for such a program.


Some at the statehouse want to drop the age to 19, which would cost significantly more. Last month, Pritzker suggested ways to shore up those costs.


“There could be for some people at certain income levels copays, that’s an example of something that would defray the cost of the program,” Pritzker said.


Friday, the self-imposed end of spring session before summer break, Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, told the chamber to not take that vacation just yet.


“Our work is almost done. I appreciate all the good work everyone has done,” Harmon said. “We will return … to complete our business for the year and I am optimistic we will be able to bring all the planes in for a landing.”


Democrats have the supermajority in both chambers and made the schedules for the spring session.


Before adjourning Friday, state Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock, said he’s ashamed of the legislature as they prepare to return Wednesday.


“We’ll probably be here until 3 o’clock on some morning just in order to pass a budget because that’s the tradition,” Reick said. “The tradition is dropping it at 3 in the morning so nobody sees what we do under the cover of darkness.”