February 20, 2020
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Following Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget address, state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, issued the following statement:
“Last year, we took decisive action to put Illinois on a road to fiscal stability. For too long, working families and the most vulnerable in our communities have borne the burden of structural deficits. Draconian cuts to higher education put the cost of Illinois colleges out of reach for many of our students, leading them to look elsewhere for opportunity and thus removing their talent and potential from building our state’s future. Like last year, we are faced with difficult choices in our budget; however, our future success depends on funding programs that deliver services efficiently and provide opportunities for Illinoisans through education and workforce development.
“We must not pretend that we can simply erase our state’s pension obligations through an expensive, protracted legal battle. Beyond the Illinois constitution’s pension clause, the United States Constitution’s contract clause also prevents the state from unilaterally reducing pension benefits. The last thing taxpayers need is another legal bill with no results.
“The best approach to working our way out of this situation is through sound fiscal discipline and a commitment to paying down our pension liability more quickly. I support using the anticipated revenues from cannabis sales and a graduated income tax to directly address Illinois’ pension obligations, which will allow us to solve this problem more quickly.
“Our budget is indeed a moral document – it reflects our values. But a budget that is beyond our means fails everyone. We must make hard choices and spend responsibly. We must find comprehensive solutions to ensure Illinois families can afford to attend our universities and colleges by increasing funding to higher education institutions and expanding access to the Monetary Award Program (MAP). Investing in our students—our children—is an investment in our future. Additionally, we must ensure our roads and bridges are safe and maintained, our seniors living on fixed incomes are supported and our economy is prepared to mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change, while taking into account the tax burden the middle class already carries.
“The chaos of partisan bickering and crisis management has harmed our community for long enough. When I came to Springfield, I pledged to work across the aisle to restore stability to our local economy and secure the future of our families for generations to come. I intend to honor that pledge. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to repair the damage of the past and move our state forward.”