Will County Democratic state legislators voiced support for the governor's budget proposal this week, while Republicans said it fell short of tackling the state's long-term fiscal challenges.
Gov. JB Pritzker laid out his budget priorities to the General Assembly on Wednesday and spoke about the need for increasing spending on areas like education and the state's child welfare agency.
State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, praised Pritzker's proposals aiming to create new employment and educational opportunities. She cited a proposed community college apprenticeship grant program and investments in recruiting and retaining teachers.
“School districts across the nation continue to struggle to fill long-term positions at schools,” Bertino-Tarrant said in a statement. “Increasing our investment in keeping the best and brightest at the head of our classrooms will help ensure our children have the opportunity to be successful.”
Pritzker also stressed the importance of a graduated income tax, which the legislature passed last year. He argued the potential added revenue could be used to take "major steps" to stabilize the state's fiscal condition. Voters will have their say on the proposed change to the state's constitution in the November election.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, slammed Pritzker's priorities, saying the state's finances would not stabilize if Democrats didn't "curb their insatiable appetite for spending."
"We cannot keep taxing our way into new revenues," Batinick said in a statement. "We need to structurally change spending."
State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, also criticized Pritzker's proposal for containing "small ideas" and not doing enough to address the state's $137 billion pension debt.
"Lauding $100 million in savings here and there in an over $40 billion dollar budget is like a family celebrating finding a quarter in the couch cushions while the couch and the entire house are being repossessed," McDermed said in a statement.