September 15, 2020; Chicago Tribune
Yesterday, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker revealed he has asked agencies to cut their budgets by five percent this year and ten percent the next. This comes in the face of Congress refusing to agree upon and issue a stimulus package that would release money to the states to help fill the gap left by pandemic-related revenue problems. And, as we know from experience, this is a situation that simply passes the burden and losses down to nonprofits and the communities and people they serve under state contracts.
“Every state in the nation has suffered, every municipality in the nation has suffered from the fiscal effects of COVID-19,” Pritzker declared. “However, until Republicans in Washington decide otherwise, middle-class, working-class and poor families across our state and across the nation will likely suffer from cuts to public safety, education, human services and environmental safety. And the potential layoffs will make the economic recession worse.”
As we reported yesterday, Pritzker is not sitting idle; in the face of congressional inaction, he’s backed a proposed amendment to the Illinois constitution that would allow a graduated-rate income tax to replace the mandated flat tax. But, the results of that effort will not be known until November when it appears on the ballot.
Meanwhile, New York is nearing the middle of its fiscal year around $14.5 billion out of balance. Ron Deutsch with the Fiscal Policy Institute also believes now’s the time to impose higher taxes on the super wealthy. “New York is home to some 118 billionaires, who since the pandemic began have actually seen their wealth increase by about $77 billion,” Deutsch says. The projected budget deficit for the next four years for the whole of the state is around $62 billion.—Ruth McCambridge