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capitol 021921Following Gov. Pritzker’s budget proposal speech Wednesday, Senate Democrats expressed their thoughts on the priorities he outlined and their concerns about the areas they feel must remain the focus as negotiations begin in earnest.

Senate Democrats’ top budget negotiators said they found much to like in Pritzker’s message but stressed that negotiations are just beginning.

“The governor has presented a budget plan that I believe has been put forward in good faith and that takes important steps to fund the vital criminal justice reforms we passed, including funding for additional law enforcement training and body cameras,” said State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago). “Likewise, I am heartened by his proposal to increase funding to some social services, including those that help people stay in their homes. As I prepare to negotiate further, I’m determined that these areas remain our unshakeable priorities.”

 

State Senator Cristina Castro (D- Elgin) said it is important that the state budget focus on how to best support those who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic.

 

“While the budget proposal isn’t perfect and we continue to negotiate how to utilize the funds that we have, I look forward to working with my colleagues to provide stability for residents of our state,” Castro said.

Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) said he was pleased to see what he called a responsible budget proposal.

“The governor’s plan reduces corporate benefits for large companies, saving over $900 million for the state coffers and creating a more level playing field for small businesses,” Aquino said. “My colleagues and I will work with the administration to provide the support, services and health care our communities deserve.”  

Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) said the governor’s proposal seemed reasonable and responsible, highlighting things like his commitment to fully funding pensions.

“Even during a pandemic, we need to maintain our commitment to fiscal discipline,” Ellman said. “I was glad to see that priorities I consider important for District 21 – child care, help for seniors, student aid – are maintained. While this proposal is not perfect, I’m looking forward to working with all of my colleagues to ensure we produce a responsible budget, serving current needs with an eye to the future.”

The Illinois General Assembly now begins the process of convening committees to craft a budget for Fiscal Year 2022, which begins July 1, 2021.