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HomeGov. JB Pritzker’s $53 Billion Budget Plan – Here Are the Highlights You Should Know

Gov. JB Pritzker’s $53 Billion Budget Plan – Here Are the Highlights You Should Know

Gov. JB Pritzker‘s $52.7 billion budget plan aims to boost funding for new arrivals, eliminate medical debt and the grocery tax, as well as direct funds towards mothers and children.

The governor’s proposal, unveiled February 21st, 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.

Pritzker’s budget includes a plan to address the state’s pension debt. Larger businesses and the sports betting industry are going to have to pay $800 million in new taxes.

Governor Pritzker’s investment priorities for the fiscal year 2025 are: 

  • Early Childhood Development (Birth to Age 5) 
  • K-12 Education 
  • Higher Education 
  • Social Service Programs 
  • Public Safety and Violence Prevention
  • Economic Development and Infrastructure 
  • Environmental and Cultural Resources

The Governor is building on his track record of fiscally responsible budgets that honor the state’s financial commitments while prioritizing investments that help working families. This year’s budget proposal continues historic investments in early childhood education, K-12 public schools, and the teacher pipeline to ensure quality education for all of Illinois’ students. The budget also advances Home Illinois, a whole of government approach to ending homelessness as we know it, and responsibly funds a joint effort between the state, Cook County, and the city of Chicago to welcome asylum seekers.
The Governor unveiled new efforts to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all, including a historic effort to eliminate $1 billion in medical debt for low-income Illinoisians. The Governor is also advancing health equity, funding initiatives to address maternal mortality as a whole and maternal mortality for black women in particular, and new protections for health insurance consumers from unfair industry practices. The budget builds on the state’s historic progress in economic development and business attraction with new capital investments for a quantum campus and infrastructure improvements to make sites ready to host new businesses. The budget also puts money back into the pockets of working families with a child tax credit targeted at the most vulnerable new parents, and a permanent elimination of the state grocery tax.
Studying Pritzker’s budget proposal, some big takeaways become obvious when it comes to the main issues the general public is interested in. 

Migrants

Pritzker is asking Illinois lawmakers to back his plan for more than $181 million to address the state’s migrant crisis. In his address, 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 recognized the state’s efforts to move 9,000 migrants from temporary shelter to more permanent housing.

Medical debt and healthcare accessibility

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. “It’s also time to help those who have suffered financial harm, often through no fault of their own, from past failures of a broken health insurance and healthcare billing system. Treating a health emergency is not an optional expense. But too many Illinoisans have had their credit ruined or have been pushed into bankruptcy when they had one unexpected accident or one prolonged illness. So today, I propose that over the next four years we eliminate $4 billion of medical debt for over 1 million Illinoisans. Working with a national non-profit called RIP Medical Debt, it costs on average one penny to buy back and eliminate every dollar of medical debt, and we can start this year with a $10 million dollar appropriation to relieve nearly $1 billion in medical debt for the first cohort of 340,000 Illinoisans. County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has already done this for residents of Cook County. Let’s make this a reality for all of Illinois,” Governor Pritzker said. Last year, he signed legislation to protect health insurance consumers from unfair rate hikes.

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.

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

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.
“It’s imperative that we act now, ensuring that as we do, we also reduce and eliminate racial disparities.
The current system is failing our most vulnerable women and babies. The solution lies, as it often does, at the community level. Dr. Jeanine Valrie-Logan is a certified nurse-midwife at the Birth Center PCC in Berwyn—the first freestanding non-profit birthing center to open in Illinois. But in Jeanine’s home community on the Southside of Chicago, no such center has ever existed. After years of mobilizing and submitting grant applications, Jeanine finally is able to open the Chicago Southside Birth Center to meet her neighborhood’s needs—offering a full spectrum of reproductive care from contraception, STI screenings, and abortion to pre-natal, birthing, and post-partum care. It can be a model for how Illinois can decrease Black maternal mortality.Because of work my administration has already done, beginning this year, doulas, midwives, and lactation consultants can now be recognized as Medicaid healthcare providers, ensuring that they can be fairly compensated. That will make more services more readily available to communities with the highest mortality rates. I intend to break down bureaucratic barriers in state government by coordinating work across agencies to improve access to a full spectrum of reproductive healthcare services. Our Department of Public Health will provide grants to assist providers with Medicaid certification and licensing associated with starting and sustaining a community-based practice. We’ll also invest an additional $1 million in DCEO capital grants related to the cost of opening”, Illinois’s governor said. 

DHS will also invest $1 million in a pilot program to ensure new moms and babies have clean diapers, along with an additional $5 million into home visiting for our most vulnerable families to connect new moms and babies with resources they need to be healthy and thrive during babies’ first year of life. Although advancements have been made, with women’s healthcare services provided via online platforms, there is a lot still to be done to eliminate disparities in healthcare access for all women.

Early education

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

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.
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.

The focus of funding the education system from cradle to career implies:

  • record levels of early childhood, K-12, college scholarship and grant funding 
  • raised teachers’ salaries and increased funding for public schools by over $2 billion 
  • proposed creation of a new agency dedicated to early childhood investments 
  • launched SMART START Illinois to eliminate preschool deserts and increase access to affordable childcare
  • increased financial aid by more than $325 million to make college affordable and attractive in Illinois
  • eliminated the unfunded liability for the College Illinois pre-paid tuition program

Tax breaks

Pritzker announced plans for a $12 million child tax credit for “working families” with children under 3 years old.
“My budget also proposes investing $12 million to create a Child Tax Credit for families raising our youngest children. By targeting this investment at low and middle-income families with children under 3, we can put money back in the pockets of our newest parents who need it most and make those early years just a little bit easier”, governor Pritzker said.
He also promised to permanently eliminate the grocery store tax to help ease the burden of inflation on lower- and middle-income families.

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