UPDATE: For a look at the governor's full address and what's included, click here.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered his annual state of the state and budget address virtually this year as Illinois enters what it hopes will be the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic, despite the challenges that have come with vaccinations across the state and country.
The address, Pritzker's third as governor of Illinois, began at noon Wednesday and was streamed online.
Pritzker chose to focus much of his address on the state's battle with the coronavirus pandemic and his new budget proposal to combat Illinois' looming debt.
The failure of the graduated income tax proposal on the November 2020 ballot - an initiative Pritzker ran on in 2018 and strongly advocated for in the years since - presents a more challenging landscape for the governor in addressing the state's long-beleaguered finances.
Late last year, Pritzker announced more than $700 million in spending reductions for fiscal year 2021 as the state looks to cope with the projected loss of nearly $4 billion in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pritzker said at the time that a variety of strategies would be used to hit those reduction benchmarks, including a hiring freeze, reductions or freezes in grant money allocations, and operational savings.
Pritzker has leveled several broadsides against opponents of the Fair Tax Amendment, saying that state Republicans opposed the measure without ever proposing legislative ways for the state to balance its budget.
“The Republicans, who worked so hard to defeat the best solution, literally have no solutions. I’m waiting for them,” he said. “The General Assembly needs to come to the table here so we can make some decisions. I put on the table some very significant cuts, and they need to come to the table with their cuts, and we’ll see where they are.”
Republicans have argued the blame is misplaced and criticized the governor for the current budget, which relied on the passage of the graduated income tax proposal as well as federal aid, though Congress has still not yet passed a stimulus package for state governments.
"The Illinois Constitution cannot be more clear about the responsibilities of the executive branch,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said in a virtual press conference Monday. “Article 8, Section 2 and 2B say that the governor presents a budget that must balance spending with estimated revenue available for that fiscal year. Estimated revenue, not wishful thinking.”