MOLINE, Ill. — It's a fiscal plan that's unheard of in Illinois.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is able to pay down its bills, resupply its severely underfunded pension program and invest in education, policing and other government programs.
"Illinois will end this fiscal year with a $1.7 billion surplus, the first of its kind in more than 25 years," the governor proudly told lawmakers during his 2022 State of the State address.
He went on to outline a $45 billion dollar fiscal plan to move Illinois forward in 2022. And then he laid down the challenge:
"During this budget cycle especially," the governor said to lawmakers, "seats at the grown-up table will be off limits to those who aren't working in the public's best interests."
While State Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) aid she saw merit is parts of the governor's plans, she found fault with that line of attack.
"I was ashamed for him," she said on "News 8 This Week with Jim Mertens."
"I don't think that kind of rhetoric was necessary because at the end of the day I would hope that we all would have seats at the table," she said.
"And it would be one table: not a grown up table, a child's table but the table."
It may be Illinois' "sharp elbows politics" that has state Democrats and Republicans taking jabs at each other.
"This is the Governor's plan," explained Rep. Hammond.
"It is his outline, and how he would prefer to see dollars spent, but the reality is that it is the General Assembly that does those appropriations."
You can listen to our entire interview with Rep. Norine Hammond on THE CITIES PODCAST.
"Now, I know that the same tired old characters who are always so desperate to bad-mouth Illinois will falsely attribute our fiscal success to the federal American Rescue Plan Act," said the Governor.
"As usual, they're wrong."
But Republicans are quick to point out that despite the savings in the Governor's plan, more money will be going out rather than coming in.
"One of the things I have real concern about is the fact that the governor is proposing what appears to be about $2.5 billion in government expansion providing $1 billion of tax insurance term basis only for this next year," said State Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Lake Zurich, Illinois).
"The devil is always in the details for these things definitely," said Rep. Hammond.
Rep. Hammond saw positive expenditures in the Governor's plan, especially in childhood and higher education.
"A lot of the focus of the budget was in the area of education, K through 12 education has some significant increases, as does higher education," she said.
"And unfortunately for many, many years that's not been an area of focus for this administration and previous administrations."
The governor is also proposing "substantial increases" in the state's education system.
- A $350 million increase for the K-12 Evidence Based Funding Formula.
- Increase MAP scholarships and broaden their allowable use for career training programs in industries like health care.
- Invest $25 million into the Pipeline for the Advancement of the Healthcare Workforce (PATH) program in community colleges to improve the recruitment and training of new healthcare workers.
The increase in MAP scholarships is something Rep. Hammonds thinks will greatly improve Illinois schools.
"It's key that we keep our Illinois students here in Illinois for higher education."
You can watch "News 8 This Week with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.