With a wide variety of issues facing the state amid the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is calling on the General Assembly to convene and begin to formulate a plan to move forward with economic and fiscal recovery.
During his daily coronavirus press briefing Tuesday, Pritzker said that the legislature should reconvene not just to put together a framework for a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins in July, but also to provide relief to small towns and businesses impacted by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“The legislature must convene so that we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order, even as we battle this terrible virus,” he said. “The General Assembly needs to pass a comprehensive plan to support families, small businesses and small towns. The Congress is looking at supporting the states and we need to make sure that we are supporting the people who make our economy go.”
Pritzker called on the General Assembly to pass laws on a variety of fronts, including initiating small business tax credits for those businesses left out of the initial run of federal support programs. Pritzker also called for a law to distribute funds to small cities and towns to fund first responders and basic services that could be at risk because of revenue losses attributed to the virus.
“I hope the legislature will act expeditiously to support jobs and economic recovery,” he said.
Pritzker is also calling for the legislature to address the state’s budget, with fiscal year 2021 set to begin on July 15. The state is suffering revenue shortages after pushing back the filing deadline for state income taxes from April 15 to July 15, and has had to increase borrowing to make up for shortfalls caused by that decision.
“Our focus here is on the overall budget for FY 21, where there’s a significant need for revenue,” he said. “The borrowing that we’re doing is really just a temporary borrowing that would then be paid back, based upon that income tax revenue that would come in three months later.”
Even with all the pressing needs potentially on the legislature’s docket, Pritzker says that the safety of members and staffers should be a major point of consideration before bringing lawmakers back to Springfield.
“There are a lot of people when you get the legislature together. It isn’t just the 177 members,” he said. “It’s the staff that they may need, as well as all the very many other people who work in and around the Capitol while the legislature is in session.”