U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is touting the benefits of the pandemic and omnibus spending bill passed by Congress, but on Tuesday warned Illinois’ leaders not to count on federal help to balance the state’s budget.
During a conference call with Illinois journalists, Durbin noted the pandemic spending bill passed Monday contains funding for specific programs to help Illinois and Chicago, including mass transit aid, support for airlines, restaurants and entertainment venues.
The $900 billion pandemic relief package that includes a $300 federal stipend to unemployment checks and $600 in direct payments to taxpayers along with aid packages for various industries.
Durbin said even if runoff races in Georgia give Democrats control of the U.S. Senate, legislation for state and local government pandemic relief would be difficult to pass under a Joe Biden administration.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker forecasts a $3.9 billion deficit for the budget year that ends June 30, attributing about half the hole to lost tax revenue due to pandemic restrictions affecting business and jobs.
The governor has announced $711 million in cuts and says legislators will have to do more. The state has borrowed $3 billion under a loan program run by the Federal Reserve, which must be paid back in three years.