Illinois Senate Democrats Seek $41B Federal Bailout for Coronavirus Impact

Among other items, Senate President Don Harmon requested $10 billion for pension relief

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Earlier this week, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon sent a letter to members of Illinois' Congressional Delegation requesting a bailout of more than $41 billion to help the state recover from economic damage as a result of the coronavirus.

In his letter, Harmon cited a report from the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs that stated Illinois could see an estimated revenue loss of $14.1 billion for 2020-2021. The senate president said the loss would deplete approximately one-third of Illinois' general funds in the one fiscal year.

The largest of Harmon's requests is a $15 billion block grant which he said would be used to stabilize the state's operating budget. Additionally, Harmon asked for $10 billion for Illinois' underfunded pension plans.

Other requests included $6 billion in aid to the state's unemployment trust fund, $1 billion in public health support for communities disproportionately affected by the virus and $9.6 million in direct aid to municipalities.

When asked about the bailout request Saturday at his daily coronavirus briefing, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he wasn't involved in drafting the letter, adding he doesn't object to people communicating with their federal representatives.

However, Gov. Pritzker acknowledged that Harmon's request was "different" than what he had been talking to federal representatives about.

"I really believe the states need some unencumbered dollars that come in that will help us with the coming year’s budget," he added. "Every state has this problem. It just does."

The Illinois Republican Party responded to Harmon's letter on social media, saying the senate president should be ashamed.

"Illinois Dems brazenly using a global pandemic as an excuse to ask the Fed govmt to bail them out of the fiscal disaster they manufactured over the last two decades," a tweet from the party read.

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