Pritzker says budget proposal will include $225 million in savings

Gov. JB Pritzker joined local lawmakers on Illinois State Universities campus earlier this year to release findings for ISU’s fine arts complex. (Blake Haas/WJBC)

By Illinois Radio Network

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that his budget proposal will include $225 million in savings along with the potential for $750 million more in taxpayer savings in three years.

The current fiscal year ends June 30. At $40 billion in state funds, the fiscal year 2020 spending plan was the largest in state history.

In the previous fiscal year, the state government spent $1 billion more than it brought in, despite claims from policymakers the budget was balanced. That was revealed in an interim annual fiscal report from the Illinois comptroller.

The governor said thanks to employment contracts with healthcare savings for state employees, among other efficiencies, taxpayers will save big in the upcoming budget that he is set to propose Wednesday in Springfield.

“I’m proud to announce that for the coming year our efficiencies and initiatives will yield at least $225 million in savings and will put the state in a position to save $750 million over the next three years,” Pritzker said.

“Effective government demands efficient government,” he said. “And since every dollar we work with here in state government belongs to the people of Illinois, the only responsible choice is to ensure that every dollar spent is a good one.”

Among other things he laid out was the Illinois Department of Revenue set to save taxpayers $15 million through new technology to conduct audits and compliance exams for the coming fiscal year. When that’s fully running he predicts $100 million a year in savings annually for state and local governments.

The Department of Corrections reduced expenses by $25 million, Pritzker said, by controlling overtime and temporary assignments.

The Governor’s office also said they worked with the Illinois Treasurer and Comptroller to save $15.7 million in late payment interest costs with an additional $25 million saved in the coming year.

Other efficiencies the governor laid out included “the elimination of redundant and obsolete boards and commissions,” Pritzker said.

He said there could be even more savings through potential agency consolidations. The governor said he ordered the Illinois departments of Labor and Employment Security to investigate a merger.

“Providing the public with a one-stop-shop for employment matters that will operate in line with the majority of state governments across the United States,” Pritzker said.

A group of private-sector employers called The Joint Employers said it appreciated the move to make government more efficient, but said merging the two agencies may not provide any savings and could get rid of a neutral arbiter in negotiations over policies that impact employers.

“IDES was created by the legislature in the early 1980s in recognition that the system of unemployment insurance benefits is funded by Illinois employers and deserved special focus outside of the Illinois Department of Labor, which has a very different function,” said the group, which consists of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and others. “Because 100 percent of IDES’s administrative funding comes from the federal government, except for in the case of special projects, it is unlikely that there are any administrative savings to be had.”

The Joint Employers also includes the Associated General Contractors of Illinois, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

“Further, IDES was created to serve as a neutral arbiter to assist both employers and labor during agreed bill negotiations,” the group said. “These occur every few years when a negotiating group from both sides come together to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to the unemployment insurance benefit program.”

Pritzker is set to deliver his budget address on Wednesday at the capitol in Springfield.

Illinois Radio Network can be reached at News@WJBC.com. 

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