Feb 21, 2024 - News

What to know about Gov. JB Pritzker's $53 billion budget plan

Photo of a man greeting supporters as he walks into a room

Gov. JB Pritzker arrives to deliver his State of the State and budget address before the General Assembly at the Illinois State Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Gov. JB Pritzker's $52.7 billion budget plan aims to boost funding for new arrivals, wipe out medical debt and eliminate the grocery tax.

The big picture: The governor's proposal, unveiled yesterday, comes as the state's fiscal health is wavering. Illinois is facing an estimated $900 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, mostly due to the migrant crisis and pension costs.

State of play: Pritzker's budget includes a plan to tackle the state's pension debt.

  • It also calls for $800 million in new tax hikes for larger businesses and the sports betting industry.

Here are six big takeaways from Pritzker's budget proposal:

Migrants

Pritzker is asking Illinois lawmakers to back his plan for more than $181 million to address the state's migrant crisis.

By the numbers: Pritzker said he's promised Mayor Brandon Johnson and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle that the state will pay more than half the tab for services to care for more than 35,000 migrants that have come to Illinois in the last year.

  • Pritzker lauded the state's efforts in moving 9,000 migrants from temporary shelter to more stable housing.

Medical debt

Following in the footsteps of Cook County and states including New York and New Jersey, Pritzker wants to wipe out residents' medical debt. He's proposed a plan to eliminate $1 billion over several years.

  • In this budget, Pritzker seeks $10 million to erase medical debt for 364,000 Illinois residents.

Quantum computing

The governor wants a half-billion dollars to boost quantum computing.

The big picture: The proposal is part of a sweeping quest to turn the state into a hub for the future of semiconductors, quantum and AI, writes Axios' Nathan Bomey.

Zoom in: Pritzker tells Axios that he's carving out $200 million for a cryogenic facility — needed to keep quantum computing systems cool — as well as $100 million for the development of a quantum campus site and $200 million in matching funds.

Reproductive and women's health

Pritzker has made accessible reproductive health a hallmark of his administration, and in this budget, he's tackling high maternal mortality rates for Black mothers.

Zoom out: Non-Hispanic Black women are nearly three times more likely to die in childbirth than non-Hispanic white women, per the CDC.

Context: The governor promised $1 million in grant funding to open birthing centers in communities where the mortality rate is highest, including the new Chicago South Side Birth Center.

  • He also pledged to ensure that doulas, midwives and lactation consultants are classified as Medicaid health care providers, and to further fund programs that help new mothers and families with resources for babies.

Tax breaks

Pritzker announced plans for a $12 million child tax credit for "working families" with children under 3 years old.

  • He also promised to permanently eliminate the grocery store tax to help ease the burden of inflation on lower- and middle-income families.

Early education

The governor wants to put $400 million toward preschool services, child care workers, early intervention and home visiting programs across Illinois.

The big picture: Increased access to preschool has been a big push for Pritzker. Thanks to his Smart Start program, the state is funding the highest number of preschool spots in state history, the governor said.

Zoom in:
Teacher retention for all education levels has been a national issue since the pandemic started in 2020. Pritzker has also proposed $45 million to help bring more teachers into the profession.

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