February 19, 2020
GOVERNOR DELIVERS BUDGET ADDRESSGovernor JB Pritzker delivered his state Budget Address on Wednesday before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. Following several days of previewing his message of managing state debt and establishing new government efficiencies, he did highlight some spending increases – including for K-12 education.
Using new revenue sources adopted in the governor’s historic first legislative session last year, and taking advantage of an economic upturn in the state, Pritzker focused his new spending on educational and social programs. Spending increases are slated for pre-K, K-12, and higher education priorities, as well as some social programs and agencies. Being cautiously optimistic about voter adoption of a constitutional amendment this fall, the governor will hold in reserve new tax revenues until after the November election results. The predicted reserved spending totals nearly $1.4 billion.
Pritzker calls for spending an additional $50 million on Early Childhood Education; $350 million more for the evidence-based funding formula; 51 million new dollars for Mandated Categorical Grants (transportation and some special education programs); and over $16 million more for teacher recruitment and principal mentoring. He also wants an additional $50 million in Monetary Assistance Programs (MAP Grants) for higher education. Of the $350 million for evidence-based funding – $150 million would be held in reserve and would not be available if the constitutional amendment is voted down in the fall. Same for the $40 million of the mandated categorical funding.
IASB and the School Management Alliance will be pushing strongly for the full $350 million increase, regardless of the November election results. If the amendment fails, the full amount should still be appropriated by adjusting other state priorities. Several legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, have also stated publicly that they support the $350 million increase for evidence-based funding regardless of the passage of the constitutional amendment.
What was not highlighted in Wednesday’s address was the new state infrastructure program, including school construction. There are little or no funds currently being received from the newly identified revenue streams for school construction. The Chicago-based casino legislation has to be re-written and approved this spring before licenses can be sold, and well before any new monies would be coming in from new wagering. Expanded gaming is a major source of revenue that will be used for the bonding necessary to provide funds to school districts to build new schools. The task force in charge in determining how school construction monies will be distributed does not have to file its report until later this spring.
The governor’s budget outline is merely the beginning of the budgeting/appropriations process in Illinois. It is the legislature that ultimately must pass legislation that appropriates spending for a new budget year. Granted, with super majorities of the governor’s political party in both the House of Representatives and Senate, the final budget will likely look quite similar to the governor’s outline.